Book Club: The Other Side of the Season

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Author: Jenn J McLeod
ISBN: 9781925030320
RRP: $32.99

The upcoming Jenn J McLeod release, The Other Side of the Season, arrived on my desk late last week and I could not resist. It doesn’t release until May 1st but I couldn’t wait, it jumped straight to the top of the pile.

This is the 4th book in the Seasons collection though they aren’t really a series. The books stand just as well on their own, and I am still yet to read the first two but I do really want to.

The Other Side of the Season is set in a different location to the first books as well, this time we are off to the Blue Mountains and a little town close to Byron Bay called Watercolour Cove.

McLeod has again woven two timelines into a suspenseful and intriguing story that kept me captivated, it also kept my mind off the pain of my new tattoo and that is saying something this time round. Some of the elements of the story were a little predictable and I could see what was going to happen quite early but there were some pretty major twists that threw me for six.

Being as how this story has two distinct timelines that slowly converge to a point where all is revealed I need to be very careful what I say here because I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery.

Beginning in the blue Mountains in 2015 we have a prologue, an interesting snapshot of time that doesn’t really relate to anything yet but you just know that at some point it’s going to become very important.

Still in 2015 we head to Watercolour Cove where we meet brother and sister roadtripping duo Sid and Jake on their way to Byron Bay, well that’s where Jake thinks they are heading anyway. Sid has other ideas, she has planned a detour to Watercolour Cove to chase up some information about a grandfather she never knew she had.

Back we head to Greenhills Banana Plantation in 1979, located at the top of the tallest hill in the small seaside town of Dinghy Bay. In 1979 we meet the Hill brothers, David and Matthew, who live and work on the plantation and will one day inherit it. Next door to the Hill plantation is the much smaller Markht property where foster siblings Albie and Tilly live. These kids have had it tough, their lives til now have been very different to the Hill brothers. Tilly has had it pretty tough and she learned early that sometimes to get where you want to be in life you have to play the game, no matter what the cost. David and Tilly are madly in love and talking about escaping their hilltop home for an exciting future as artists in the big city.

the other side of the season

The bulk of the story is told in 2015 where we get to know Jake and Sid better as they settle into their respective roles as caretakers of the hilltop gallery in Watercolour Cove and Sid tries to work out how she’s going to get the information they need about the grandfather they didn’t know they had. We learn a lot about Sid, her childhood, her strained relationship with her mother, her current relationship issues and the reason she’s running away from life to chase a newly discovered grandfather.

Sid is a strong and capable woman who lacks faith in herself at the moment. The relationship she shares with her mother has never been that close but with the challenges Sid is facing it seems their relationship has taken a turn for the worse, their arguments are more regular and more brutal.

The picture painted of Natalie is not flattering. She is not a likeable character and on more than one occasion I would have liked to slap her. Say what you want about her though; she was driven, determined and she thought she was doing what she had to do.

I was completely dragged in by this book, the twists were fantastic and though there were some that you could see coming from very early on there were others that suckerpunched you out of the blue.

Jenn’s writing is evocative, gorgeously descriptive and transports you to the places she writes about. Unfortunately I don’t think that Watercolour Cove actually exists, but if it did I would definitely want to visit.

The Other Side of the Season is a touching story of love, first love, new love, enduring love, love of convenience, family, truth and the importance of learning the other side of the story; because there is always at least two sides to a story.

One of our characters has had quite the hand dealt to him in life and things have been far from easy but he teaches us a valuable lesson, that if I hadn’t been under the gun at the time I may have marked the passage, about forgiveness and moving on.

All of the characters in this novel have had their share of heartache and things going wrong and all of them deal with that differently. Jenn has made it interesting to watch how the different characters deal with their challenges.

Stunning writing, spellbinding storytelling, art in all its glory and the message that it’s never too late to make things right. You may not be able to fix all the mistakes you made in the past but you can still make amends and change your future.

An amazing read that I am glad I allowed to jump to the top of the pile and just cemented my resolve to read the first two of the seasons collection.

The Other Side of the Season is book #17 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

The Other Side of the Season is available in May from Simon & Schuster Australia, Booktopia, Bookworld and where all good books are sold.

Jenn J McLeod can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia 25 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Other Side of the Season so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

31 thoughts on “Book Club: The Other Side of the Season

  1. The Other Side of the Season by Australian author Jenn J McLeod is a book that kept me wanting to keep reading and reading till the very last page. I found the book easy and relaxing to read.

    The story goes back and forth between periods in 1979 to 2015 with many twists of love, hurt, family dramas and finding out the truth as to what really happened.

    Sidney who offers to drive her brother Jake to Byron Bay to escape the winter in the Blue Mountains doesn’t tell him she plans to detour to Watercolour Cove to try and track down the grandfather that she didn’t know she had. Sid is a very headstrong young woman whose relationship with her mum is somewhat strained, together with her own relationship issues. The story goes through phases in characters lives from when they were young and unassuming to older and wiser. The story takes us on a journey that focuses on the lives of Tilly, David, Matthew, and Albie who are all affected by different events and happenings that change their lives forever.

    I really enjoyed reading a novel by an Australian author with the story set in Australia. Jenn McLeod showed she really had a feel for the story line and its characters. I found it interesting that I felt I could relate to the characters as if I was there on the journey with them.

    The Other Side of the Season left a lasting memory with me and that is “the truth can heal, wrongs can be righted, the lost can be found and there is always another side to every story”.

    I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Australia and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Other Side of the Season it is a book that I would highly recommend everyone read.

  2. I really enjoyed “The Other Side of the Season” by Jenn McLeod. A big thanks to Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read it.

    I love a story with a nostalgic element that links the past and the present of the characters, slowly revealing all their secrets. This book did that effortlessly in a very easy to read way. I also loved the Australian setting and ‘Australianisms’ in the writing style. It made me smile 🙂

    I’ve already passed this book onto my mum to read and will be looking out for more by Jenn in the future.

  3. How lucky we are in Australia to have so many wonderfully talented writers. Jenn J McLeod being one of them. Her book “The Other Side of The Storm’ was one I found delightful to read.
    The story flicks between two timelines. To start with I was a little unsure how it was all connected but I found it easy to jump back and forth between the different characters.
    This book very much shows us that its all the different experiences in life that make us into the person we are today. Everything that happens in our lives has an impact but we get to choose if we make it a negative or if we refuse to allow it to drag us down and find the positive in it and keep on moving forward. We all handle things in our own way and this is shown throughout the book.

    A wonderful book to read during those cold Winter evenings and rainy weekends. Add a cup of hot chocolate into the mix and you have perfection 🙂

  4. The Other Side of the Season is a mysterious, Australian novel set near Byron Bay. It’s the fourth book by Australian author, Jenn J McLeod and it’s basically like an onion. As you read the prose it’s like another layer is slowly stripped away to reveal something more and slightly different. The Other Side of the Season is a heart-warming tale that proves that there are often multiple sides to a story and that each perspective is often as valid and as important as the other.

    The book begins in the present day with a strong woman named Sidney who is looking to escape her mother’s house in the Blue Mountains. Sidney found herself returning home to live with her Mum after a long-term relationship break-up. This character is named after the artist, Sidney Nolan and she is looking at discovering some information about the past. Sidney is a relatable and rich character who has never been told much about her extended family so she decides to go on a journey with her younger rapscallion brother to get some answers.

    The second major thread in this novel has the reader immersed in a quaint town called Dingy Bay in Northern NSW in the late seventies. The main characters in this story are two young brothers, a 17 year old aspiring artist named David and his elder brother Matthew. The pair work on the family’s banana plantation. David is in love with the girl next door and Matthew looks poised to run the family business but one day a tragedy strikes and the decisions the characters make will have long-standing ramifications that shake their simple, rural lives.

    McLeod has done a fantastic job of creating very real and interesting characters and revealing many facets of their lives so we know exactly what makes them tick. She also expertly weaves together two very different stories set in opposing periods in time. In the end the reader is offered a very vibrant, detailed and lush tapestry of life, love, family and friendship and a story that is told with a nostalgic view of the past and present. This novel is one that will tug at your heartstrings as it is so emotional. It will also make people stop and cherish life and realise that the choices we make are often more complicated than they initially seem and that you really shouldn’t live your life filled with regrets.

  5. What a great read this book was! I got this book quite late and had just finished reading Daughter Of Australia which was that brilliant, I didnt think I was going to be able to ease into this one because of the comparison. I did ease into it and was surprised how I fell for it being a completely different story and setting with new characters all very different from one another. I soon clicked when Tilly was really Natalie and I found myself wanting for more and more information especially when Sid and her brother Jake went to Watercolour Cove (Dingy Bay) as it was previously called. It was a captivating read and I felt right there with the characters amongst the scenery.
    Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Jenn J McLeod as you took me on another journey in this book 🙂 Glad to see Jenn has written other books as I now have a growing wishlist 🙂 xo

    1. Forgot to say for those who also read Daughter Of Australia and then went to read this book, the pages were a lot thicker in this one and every time I turned pages I had to check if any were clinging together but they werent, did anyone else do the same? 🙂

  6. The Other Side of the Season by Jenn McLeod was a wonderful read that I struggled to put down.

    I found I could relate to the setting, based in Coffs Harbour as my fiancé was born there and used to help his parents on their banana plantation. This made it so much more enjoyable to read.

    I loved how this book was set in two different times and the switch between the two was very easy to follow. The characters were so well developed and so unique. Sidney was my favourite character and I admired her strength and determination. Her love of family showed everyone that truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and there’s another side to every story.

    There was a lot of twists and turns and parts where I could predict what was coming and others that completely took me by surprise. All in all, an expertly written novel focusing on contemporary issues regarding identity, family, love and truth, all interwoven throughout the story. Jenn’s gentle approach lets readers enjoy the narrative and mysteries absorbing the issues without the schoolmarmish lessons being given.

  7. This book really does have it all – romance, tragedy, family secrets and scandals galore. The Other Side of The Season is the second of Jenn J McLeod’s books I’ve had the pleasure to read. I love her real rural Australian settings and being familiar with the country around Coffs and the Blue Mountains made this book that much more familiar and I was rapidly completely immersed. I always love a book with two storylines and/or time zones twisting and turning until at last you see how they are intricately intertwined.

    All the characters are well formed and portrayed, although as others have said many are flawed and not all are completely likeable. But for me this makes the book all the more real and the way each tackled their challenges and tragedies differently made for interesting reading.

    I have to admit I can usually pick a plot twist on the horizon but one particular turn of events in the later part of this book really stunned me! It was really not what I was hoping/expecting would happen but then again life does not always turn out perfectly, which I think is a main theme of this storyline.

    So once again Jenn has created an enthralling story set in a wonderful Australian landscape expertly exploring themes of love, loss, family and survival. I would recommend The Other Side of the Season as a thought-provoking and enjoyable read.

    Many thanks to the Beauty and Lace Book Club as well as Simon and Schuster and of course Jenn J McLeod for the opportunity to read and review this great new novel. I will now be looking for the other two in the Season series to complete my set!

  8. I really enjoyed The Other Side of the Season! I have read all of Jenn’s books so far and this and House for All Seasons are my favourites.
    I was drawn into the characters lives and mysterious story that surrounded and linked them quite quickly and relieved that this did not go away as it sometimes can throughout a book.
    The time shifts are made clearly, and the reader has no problem in knowing what is going on or where they are at each point in the book.
    As noted under the title of the book “Everything has a reflection” and there are two sides to every story. A great lesson to learn.
    Can’t wait for Jenn’s next book and this is yet another I have been raving about to my family and friends!

  9. I loved the two siblings, Sidney and Jake, and their adventures to discover family that had been hidden from them. The Other Side of the Season touched on love, strength, betrayel and most importantly survival. Reading what Tilly, Jake and Sidney’s mum, went through, and did, to survive confused me at the beginning of the novel but by the end, when it all began to fall in place, I was in tears. A wonderfully written book that I was easily able to visualise and appreciate “Watercolour Cove” it’s beautiful setting. I am very interested in reading Jenn J McLeod’s other books after reading this.

  10. If I had to describe “The Other Side of The Season” briefly I’d say it’s easy reading. The language is modern Australian, the characters relatable & not too complex and the storyline intruguing. The jumping between time periods was easy to follow as the chapter titles are clearly marked.

    I enjoyed this book but did find some of the outcomes a little predictable. In saying that though, there was enough mystery & surprise to keep me engaged.

    I did feel like I was living vicariously through brother & sister Sid & Jake as they upped & set up as caretakers of a seaside gallery in the 2015 era. And the relationships between Tilly & David & also David & his brother Matthew at the plantation in 1979 kept me entertained & wanting to discover more.

    Jenn J McLeod’s The Other Side of the Season is a memorable read with enough mystery, intrigue, character attachment & twists to keep you guessing and wanting more.

  11. The Other Side of the Season is a beautifully written book by the very talented novelist Jenn J Mcleod.
    I loved this book from beginning to end and found myself visually entranced by the very descriptive writing.
    This is a journey between two worlds of 2015 and then back to 1979, I found the transitioning really easy and could follow what was happening with ease.
    I love the way the past always catches up with people and how it can mould them into who they are.
    I could not put this book down, even in between moving house.
    The story of Sid and Jake who are siblings going on their journey that turns out a bit differently to what they originally thought is just inspiring.
    The story of David and Natalie and his father and brother is also intriguing.
    I recommend anyone to give this book a read, as it evokes so many emotions.

  12. Thanks Heaps Beauty & Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
    I absolutely loved reading this book. Well done Jenn !
    I loved the twists this novel presented with, i constantly thought and tried to work out how the two stories were going to tie in.
    The story line was beautiful.
    Another successful and well written book by Jenn J Mcleod.
    Keep the novels coming

  13. Wow! Just wow! Beauty & Lace book club, you have blown me away with your beautiful words. I wish there was a way for me to let you know how much it really means and how important such feedback is to me. The Aussie publishing biz is crazy and crowded and authors need word of mouth. So for every review, every recommendation or every time you say, “Have your read this book comment…?” you are helping writers to keep writing. Thank you. I have lost more stories to tell yet. 🙂

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