Author: Karly Lane
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.
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
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