Book Club: Tallowood Bound

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Author: Karly Lane
ISBN: 978-1-74331-727-3
RRP: $29.99

Stunning storytelling by the terrifically talented Karly Lane in this fabulous new read that brings together a little bit of everything for a book that is very hard to put down, my case of one-more-chapteritis last night lead me all the way to the final page.

Tallowood Bound is set largely in the small NSW town of Tuendoc in the present but there is an integral second storyline running through the narrative set in Townsville during the second World War. This story has mystery, romance, history, international travel, family secrets and a rural setting so it doesn’t really matter what your go-to genre is this is a book you are going to love.

Erin Macalister leaves the city to take care of her grandmother after a fall and is devastated to find the beloved independent woman so frail and fading. She finally feels that she’s found home again in the house she spent much of her childhood in at Tallowood.

Lane has woven a gripping tale that has you forever wanting to know why and how as it slowly plays out in front of you. Gran is slowly slipping away and the only way Erin has found to bring the light back into her eyes is to take old photo albums in to her in the nursing home and listen to her tell stories of her younger days in wartime Townsville. Stories that Erin has never heard before, of people she knew nothing about.

Erin is relishing being out of the city and away from the devastating ruins of her marriage, rebuilding her strength before having to face the world again. Her job allows her to work remotely for the most part, only returning to the city for meetings. She wasn’t really counting on the hunky farmer next door still having the same effect he did on her when she was 17, and the sparks are definitely flying on both sides.

In the space of a few short months Erin’s whole life has changed, everything she relied on for stability and strength is crumbling beneath her and when she starts uncovering the family secrets there is no going back.

In some respects I could really relate to Erin, medical problems meant that she was never going to conceive naturally which is something I can completely understand. She and husband Phillip had been trying IVF but failed cycle after failed cycle had taken it’s toll and Erin called a halt to her dreams of becoming a mother and said ‘no more’. To discover that her husband had an affair with his much younger assistant was heartbreaking, to be told her was leaving her because his girlfriend was pregnant was utterly devastating.

tallowood bound

The pleasantly surprising aspect of Tallowood Bound is that the characters are all older than I expected. Gran is in her 90s, Erin is in her 30s and her mother Irene is into her 70s. Gran and Irene come from an earlier time where things were very different, and Gran made her choices in wartime which made things very different. I’m not sure that they would have made the same choices if the times were different but they made their choices and knew they had to make the best of them.

History has a way of repeating and generations of women in the family found themselves in similar positions, with all this in mind some of the decisions Erin contemplated making really made no sense to me. I would have been able to understand it had Erin not made all the discoveries she had, it seemed out of character to what I would have expected and left me very disappointed in her thought processes.

The sparks between Erin and her first love Jamie are electric, they are believable and I was invested in discovering if they would ever get it together. Lane wrote their romance in a way that you were never quite sure how it would end for them.

I loved all the characters in the book and it really was a story of three Macalister women and their journeys through life. The end of Evelyn Macalister’s life brought a lot of new information to light and allowed bridges to be built and old hurts to be healed.

An engaging novel with elements of real Townsville wartime events, heart breaking and hopeful. A delightful read that is sure to entrance readers young and old.

Tallowood Bound is book #66 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015

Karly Lane loves to hear from her readers, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Tallowood Bound is available through Allen & Unwin and from Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.
10 of our lucky readers will also be reading Tallowood Bound so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “Book Club: Tallowood Bound

  1. I was just reading about this book on my emails and totally hooked on this book. Another book that will be on my list.

  2. Thank you for providing me with a review copy of this book. I had not read anything by Karly Lane before, this was a great book. Although it seems to be classed as Rural Romance, I felt it had a more contemporary feel about it.

    Erin returns home to see her beloved Gran who is slowly fading away from her. Whilst visiting her she unearths a box of photos and other memorabilia with photos of a man she doesn’t know. She learns that Gran had a past that no one was aware of, and this sends Erin off on a journey of discovery.

    Meanwhile she reconnects with a past love, but as she is already married, but separated she struggles with whether to pursue this relationship or not.

    I loved the fact that her Gran’s (Evelyn) former life drew upon WWII and the American soldiers in Townsville, which is based on fact. I’m sure there are many stories like this one that were true of the time.

    This will appeal to all readers of Womens Contemporary Fiction and was a very easy read. I will definitely be seeking out more of Karly’s titles in the future. 5 stars from me!

  3. This opportunity to read and review “Tallowood Bound” was a genuine pleasure.

    Dealing with the declining health and eventual death of her Gran, Erin I think got more than she bargained for. What was in part an escape from the reality of her failing personal life, her impending divorce and her inability to conceive, turned out to be a learning lesson where she found more of herself and her family than could have been predicted.

    Evelyn, her Gran, had a bit of a sordid past that very few had any knowledge of, and these few were not in Australia. A forbidden romance, an illegitimate child, resentment and finally peace were part of her life. Taking us back to Townsville in WWII and the changes that it had undergone, the landscape, the culture and especially the people. Notes of true history gone by hidden in the story within the novel.

    While finding her own past love still ever present, Erin sought the information to explain a box of discovered treasures that her Gran had left behind. The past that involved not only her Gran, but could also unlock the changes over time that her own mother had made, who she became and why. The journey, taking her to Louisiana and the Bayou, only to find herself somewhat in a similar position to her Gran and mother. Should she continue the family line of mistakes or embrace this new, scary future.

    The story touches on so many people at stages in their lives that made me think of my own family and experiences. It drew me in and had me reading away all afternoon. For those who know me this is very uncommon. While my life and family are not quite the novel topic I’m sure that I am not the only one who can sympathize with aspects in this story.

    Finished within two days, this book is an easy read, sweeps you along in the romance and tragedy within. I will be recommending it on to others willingly… But not my copy, I think there is still time for round two in a week or so!!

    5 stars for sure.

  4. TALLOWOOD BOUND by Karly Lane is a wonderful read. It’s a fascinating story of three generations of very interesting women.

    I particularly enjoyed going back to WWII Townsville with Gran’s reminiscences. I would have fallen in love with Jimmy too. Such a warm, loving man.

    I’m glad that we got to know more of the mother Irene, Serenity, in the second part of the book. She certainly beats to her own drum. The word quirky comes to mind.

    The daughter Erin takes a while to sort herself out, almost right to the end, but she finally gets it all together giving us a HEA.

    I will always remember the chapter where Gran dies and Jimmy comes for her. So beautifully written it moved me to tears.

    I will be looking for more books by Karly Lane.

  5. What a wonderful book to read. I really enjoyed Tallowood Bound and finished it in 2 days.
    I adore how Karly Lane has the two different timelines of modern day City Life and WW2 Rural Townsville. I know a little about the ‘American Invasion’ as the American Troops in Australia as called and the hundreds of Aussie Women who became involved in War Time Romances and the War Brides. I remember reading of the Ships leaving Australia with the Brides going to be reunited with their American Husbands. It has also been documented in Fiction and Non-Fiction the resentment the Aussie Soldiers felt of the Yanks stealing all the women by giving them the hard to come by rationed goods like coffee, silk stockings etc.
    There are fascinating Historical facts of WW@ Sites in Townsville. I will definitely love to do a bit of research about these.
    Three very strong women, history repeating itself in the choices Evelyn (Grandmother) Irene (Serenity the Daughter) and the Granddaughter Erin make until Erin breaks the cycle with her final decision to include the Father of her child in its life.
    It is heartbreaking for Erin to witness the decline of her beloved Gran, her stability in her life once her Mother – Evelyn decides to follow her alternative path in life. The secrets Erin discovers when she finds a tin of Grans memories-letters, photos and an old ring, and the names Gran mention to her has Erin intrigued to discover the truth of Grans past.
    The unfolding story of romance, love, tragedy and old fashioned beliefs amaze Erin, especially the discovery of her Gran having a illicit affair with an American Soldier while engaged to her Grandfather knocks the stuffing out of her while she is recovering from the betrayal of her own husband.
    A teenage romance rekindled after many years is wonderfully described and the trials that occur while trying to sort herself, steers Erin to travel back to Townsville where the story originated and then onto Louisiana where she discovers her Grandfathers family and how they welcome her and her mother.
    There are a few twists that keep you on the edge of your seat and I was very pleased with the outcomes for Serenity and Erin’
    Though Tallowood Bound is Rural Romance, I agree with other Reviewers that this book will appeal to other readers.
    I highly recommend this book, an will definitely be re-reading it and reading other novels by Karly Lane.

  6. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review this book.

    I totally enjoyed reading it and couldn’t put it down, it was a nice uncomplicated read that I could easily get back to after being interrupted by the kids and pick up where I left off.

    I loved the historical aspect of the book, especially as it was to do with Australia and WWII, a war my grandfather was involved in.
    I related easily to Erin’s character as my grandfather was in the British navy and wooed my grandmother while he was in port in Sydney, similar to the story of Erin’s grandmother and Jimmy (except we had a happy ending)

    I would recommend this book for anyone as I think that it appeals to a really wide audience and it is such an enjoyable story.
    I will also be looking at the other books from Karly Lane and reading those too!!

  7. “Tallowood Bound” is a really enjoyable novel that uses some familiar themes, but injects a certain freshness in the way characters handle things or the way the author reveals things to us. For example, structurally, I’d expected a more traditional approach in which Erin discovers her grandmother’s secrets. Instead, the novel leaves us with more information than Erin has, in the end.

    I found this a very moving story. Lane has created some very vivid characters, and given them extremely understandable dilemmas. Most readers will find something to empathise with here, and many will find more than one aspect. Lane’s writing style is a little understated, but that works well – I think this could have been soppily sentimental if written wrongly; as it is, the reader is left to fill in some of the emotions, and that makes for a strongly engaging story.

    I enjoyed the way that moving to the country wasn’t presented as a solution for anything, really; Erin likes and appreciates the things the country has to offer, but never for a moment does she think that’s going to solve her problems. Similarly, I liked the fact that characters explicitly discussed the ways they were going to have to modify their behaviour to make a relationship work. That’s realistic, but too often glossed over in fiction.

    I knew something of the history of the Townsville area in World War II, so there were no great revelations here. However, I really enjoy stories that bring this recent history to vivid life and put a human face on it. Lane does that really well.

    Although some aspects of the story are fairly well worn – notably, Erin’s relationship with Jamie, which probably holds no surprises for most readers – the novel is strengthened by some interesting reflections on mother/daughter relationships and how things echo down the generations.

    This is a fairly easy read, but a very enjoyable one that uses recent history honestly and well. It should appeal to quite a wide variety of people – I recommend giving it a go.

  8. What a wonderful story this is. Not the type of book that I would normally read however within the first page you build a bond with the main character, her hopes, fears and heartache make her easy to relate to.

    I particularly felt close to her as her love and closeness of her grandmother resonated with my own relationship with my grandmother who I had cared for in an old age home.

    The seamless shift from Erin to her grandmother was wonderful, almost like the wisps of fog dissipating to reveal a new scene. Seeing the lives of women during WWII was insightful and developed the depth of characters in the book.

    I have tended to steer clear of war books however this was done tastefully without embellishment.

    This is an easy to read, pleasurable book which you would find hard not to enjoy. A great summer time read.

  9. And we have the review for Kerrie McDermid…

    I loved reading Tallowood bound and found it to be the perfect love story. The author Karly Lane captured all three of her main characters in the book and bought them to life.

    All 3 generations of Macalister women had their own story to tell yet the booked flowed and was easy to follow. I particularly liked reading about Evelyn’s journey during the war as I too have lived in Townsville. As I’m reading her memories, I imagine what it must have been like during the war and the hardships that she must have felt. Her granddaughter Erin’s journey was equally interesting to read but I found that they could of touched more on Erin’s mothers past and the distance that she kept from her family, especially as her mum lay dying in the home.

    Karly Lane is a inspiring writer with lots of passion and hope, and this really brought to light by the way she writes the characters. Enduring a lot of hardships and broken hearts, Erin comes out stronger and more focused yet is still independent and a confident young women.

    I will be keeping an eye out for other books from this author, especially Gemma’s Bluff – it sounds like the perfect summer read.

    Thank you for allowing me to be part of this trial.

  10. Thank you Beauty and Lace! Tallowood Bound is a gem of a book! This book is romance story that tells the tale of Erin who goes back to the country town where she grew up to escape a broken marriage and take care of her beloved grandmother Evelyn.

    Erin realising her gran doesn’t have very much time left, sets about learning all about her grans life. Part of Erin’s journey involves connecting with Jamie McBride, a past love, however, things did not end well for Erin and Jamie.

    The book takes you back to 1943 Townsville when Evelyn is much younger and tells the story of the romance between Evelyn, Roy and Jimmy. I really loved the wartime/historical aspect to this story, and Erin’s view on her grans life.

    I particularly liked reading about Erin’s journey and seeing the romance and sparks between Erin and Jamie. There is also some fun plot twists and turns. All in all it’s an interesting and compelling story.

    Tallowood Bound is a great read.

  11. Karly Lane’s latest novel, Tallowood Bound allows you to immerse yourself in some good, ol’fashioned romance as well as spend some time away in the country. The book is an Australian, rural romance novel that also spins together elements of historic fiction and contemporary, chick lit. The novel is ultimately a pleasant and engaging one about three generations of women from the Macalister family.

    The story begins with Sydney-based girl, Erin Macalister leaving the big smoke behind in order to care for her gran, Evelyn, who lives in Tuendoc, a small rural town in Queensland. Evelyn has had a bad fall and is also suffering from severe memory loss as a result of having dementia. The only way Erin can still get through to her grandma is to bring in some old photographs. But these pictures also unlock a series of long-lost memories and family secrets that have been buried for decades.

    The other major arc to this novel is about Evelyn’s life as a young woman living in Townsville and working for the Red Cross during the Second World War. She is engaged to a close family friend named Roy and he in turn has struck up a friendship with an American serviceman named Jimmy while the two were stationed in New Guinea. When Jimmy is allowed some leave in Australia he goes to meet Evelyn and her family and this sets off a series of events that had long remained a mystery and this is all slowly revealed to the reader.

    After Erin returns to Tuendoc she also meets up with an old love of her own named Jamie McBride, who also happens to be her grandma’s neighbour. The latter is keen to rekindle his relationship with Erin but she is weary and still wounded by her recent marriage breakdown as well as several ghosts from the past. Lane does an excellent job of writing realistic characters and creating authentic and complex relationships complete with feelings like emotion, loss and heartbreak.

    Tallowood Bound is a vivid, romance tale set in the country but it’s also a story that is far bigger than that. It successfully draws together multiple generations of a family and shows the long-lasting impact of some key decisions. In all, this was an enjoyable and predictable dramatic tale that has one big, old heart at its core.

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