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. From the moment I hold one of Jenn’s novels in my hand, I know I am going to be memorised with her writing of characters in such a way that I feel like I know each one personally and I am living amongst them as I read. I have loved all of her covers that represent each of her last 3 books because they represent what evolves in the story that you are about to read. The cover of this book is just glorious with reflections.

    The book starts with a character that is writing a letter. To who or why, we won’t now till further on. This book also takes us through one year of 1979 and another 36 years later in 2015. Sometimes I can get confused when this happens but not with Jenn’s writing. I somehow figured through the first chapters that the characters are going to be entwined somehow.

    The book starts off in a fictional place called Watercolour Cove in 2015 and we meet the characters of Sid and her younger brother Jake. Both characters I fell in love with straight away. . I found the character of Jake making me laugh at his antics and his hilarious throw back remarks to his sister kept me entertained from beginning to the end. Jake reminded me of my own older brother with joking around. Just as we follow why they are heading to Watercolour Cove we then start a new chapter in Greenfill Banana Plantation 1979.

    In 1979 we meet a lot of characters and some I would love and some I would think were horrible. It’s not till further on, that my opinions will change for some of them.

    On reading about Watercolour Cove it did remind me of Nambucca Heads where I had a few holidays there in my younger days and it wasn’t till the end of the book on reading Jenn’s thank yous that I saw that the V.Wall from Nambucca Heads featured in the book. It is always lovely reading a book of places that you know and love. I could visualise the banana plantation and of course the Big Banana.

    This storyline totally moved me in every way with all the memorable characters, the compelling family drama with dark threads and secrets entwined through the pages, lies, love and death. I could not put the book down as I was totally captivated in reading and finishing such an enjoyable book.

    We learn from this book that long held secrets from the past never stay hidden and will eventually come to the surface. For one character she hoped her secret didn’t tear her family apart and she would be left alone. This character just turns all her energy into protecting her kids and these are the ones who would have suffered the most to learning the truth.

    I wasn’t ready for the ending and I will warn now, that tissues should be on hand for those that feel strong emotions.

    Another absolutely. brilliant book by Jenn that just lingers with me long after I have finished reading the last page. Even now, I have this heavy feeling in my chest just from the ending and I still have tears of sadness and joy.

    I thoroughly recommend anyone to read this book and you will definitely feel the emotional impact of this book that will remain with you for quite a while.

    Thank you again to Beauty & Lace and Simon Schuster for giving me such a wonderful book to read and enjoy but to have also introduced me to Jenn’s first book which started my journey of following her on facebook.

    Jenn is such a true warm and lovable Aussie who captures Australian places so well. I have never met Jenn but have travelled with her throughout Australia through her facebook journeys and am happy to call her a true fun friend. Maybe one day, I will get the opportunity of meeting her.

    p.s. with the character of Albie I kept thinking of Alby Mangels whenever I heard his name and they are so both different in every way. Just made me chuckle whenever I saw Abies name in the beginning.

  2. This is the first ‘Non-Mummy’ book I’ve read since having baby #3 and it sure made those long breastfeeding sessions go fast. I’d find myself hanging out for a break to lay down with bubs and get back into the story. Any chance I got to be honest! Housework was put on the back burner the past few days 
    I found it easy to read and was taken away from my little world for a bit.
    Watercolour Cove sounds divine, it was described perfectly and whenever I picked up the book I was instantly there, I can envision it clearly.
    The storyline was great, I like how it went between 1979 and 2015, it flowed nicely and kept me wanting more of 1979 so I could understand the characters more. The character Natalie made me angry and I found myself shaking my head and tsking a lot. However by the end I understood why she is the way she is. Albie grossed me out but again by the end I understood him too. Funnily enough the character Matthew who I felt for (nearly as much as David) was the one I ended up not a fan of…. As for David, well he is a beautiful soul who got the raw end of the stick. So true, there is always another side to the story.
    At first the story was predictable and I settled in but along the way a few things threw me too.
    The ending I didn’t see coming, I liked it (well as much as you can with such a blow). Without giving anything away I would’ve loved to hear Sidneys reaction and how things unravelled after her knowing…but the ending was fitting and well written.
    So now here I am back to my normal life and I feel thankful it’s drama free  although I will be tracking down Jenn’s other books to keep my head in the clouds a little longer.

  3. The Other Side of the Season is a well written book.
    The storyline flows effortless backwards and forwards between 1979 and 2015, and intertwines the main characters and brings this beautiful descriptive book to life.
    There is laughter, sadness and stubboness that is believable.
    Jenn J McLeod descriptions of scenery and artworks shows she sees the beauty around her and can put this passion into words.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this lovely book, I have already recommended it to friends.

  4. As this is the only book I have had the opportunity to read by Jenn J McLeod let me say that it is a spellbinder of a story & very well written enough that I must chase up her other novels.

    Great storyline as I have already said & for once I didn’t mind flipping from 2015 to 1979 very easily done & so engrossing sometimes it just flows so well.Strong characters with very different personalities but all likeable in their own way.
    As said by a few people had some predictable moments but then had some twist & turns not expected which made the book one of those you cannot put down.

    I really enjoyed this book recommend it as a great read & just hope for more of the same.

  5. I absolutely loved this book! One I found very difficult to put down once I started reading. It even made me late to a surprise 80th birthday party.
    I loved the way it flipped from1979 to 2015. Jenn J McLeod did this very well, which mad it very easy to follow and not confusing in the least. I loved the way the characters I thought I hated at the beginning were the ones I was cheering for in the end. It was quite sad at times, the tears were free flowing, and funny at others. The ending was quite sad In fact I wonder whether the story could have need any differently. The epilogue was perfect, something I totally love in books.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this
    book. Congratulations also to Jenn J McLeod on such a great book!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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? 🙂

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