By Rachael Johns
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins
The following review may contain spoilers.
Fergus McWilliams arrives in the dairy town of Walsh: population 1381, situated 3 hours south of Perth. He is about to take up his substitute teacher job, filling in for a teacher on extended sickleave, so he knows his time in Walsh won’t be forever. His Grade 3/4 should suit him just fine, and he will be away from the gossip and pitying glances of his friends.
Tabitha Cooper Jones happily owns runs the local ice cream Business and Tea Rooms, where she makes the ice cream herself, and is always experimenting with new flavours. She is the eternal bridesmaid, adored by her family, popular with everyone, but there is just one thing missing from her life – a man to love her, and to share her life.
So when Tabitha lets slip at the local Football club Grand Final win celebrations that she is pregnant, her family and friends are stunned at the news. They were all aware that there is no man in Tabs life. Her last boyfriend was 10 years ago!
Tab is determined to go this alone, and is pretty sure that after the shock wears off, she will have the backing of everyone in the town.
When Tab meets Fergus as he is painting the school yard fence,they seem to clash as she somehow manages to throw a plate of scones and cream right down his shirtless chest, then warns him that there’s this kind of thing about new teachers, especially if they are good ones. The town wants to keep them, so they try to marry them off.
So, he had better be alert to being accosted by single women. Fergus doesn’t take kindly to being told such a far fetched story, so they part each shaking their head at the others manner.
As Fergus settles into his surroundings and begins to meet the townsfolk, he realises that Tabithas warning was indeed true, as mothers with single daughters ‘just happen to be passing by’ and invite him to meals. Eventually he tells his fellow teachers that he has just come out of a long term relationship and is not looking to date yet. He is asked if he plays sport, and when he says he has played a bit of cricket in his time, he quickly gets persuaded to coach the junior cricket team.
The first afternoon of junior cricket, Fergus is rattled to discover that his assistant is none other than Tabitha. Her nephew Ned is in Fergus’s class, and also loves cricket, so she is pleased to help out as coaches assistant. Fergus cannot see how she can help, as Tabitha only has a stump on one arm. She might be able to throw ok, but how could someone with only one functioning arm be able to bat? Yet again Tab and Fergus clash.
Tabitha calls in to the nursing home to visit with her grandmother and the place is frantic as they have discovered Mrs Lord, suffering from dementia, has gone missing. The police are called, and Tabitha suggests they look for her at her old house, which is 12 km out of town, and is where Fergus is staying. A search there discovers nothing. But the next morning, Fergus wakes to the smell of bacon cooking, and leaps out of bed to find an old lady in his kitchen. He realises who she is, and retreats to the bedroom and calls 000. The call goes to Tabitha, who is a St Johns volunteer, and she goes to the house to find Fergus comforting the distressed old lady. When police and ambulance sirens further upset Mrs Lord, Fergus settles her by saying he will drive her back to town. Tabitha begins to see the caring side of Fergus.
As they get to each see another side to each other, a friendship begins to develop, then sparks fly yet again. We all know the path to true love is never easy.
Will love win out in the end?
Something to Talk About is a heartwarming read, with believable characters, a good plot, story twists and a satisfying ending. Thank you Rachael Johns for another great look into the lives of the people of Walsh, population 1381.
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