Author: Jenn J McLeod
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 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.