The Willow Tree Wharf by Australian author Leonie Kelsall is a comfort read that has all the happily-ever-after scenarios one would expect in a good romance.
Samantha (Sam), thirty-seven, is the owner of Ploughs & Pies Café in Settlers Bridge. She has lived her entire life in the small town.
Sam met her husband Grant when she was sixteen and they had been married for twenty- two years, after years of putting up with his abuse which had worsened over time, she now finds herself sleeping out the back of her café.
With the help of Christine, a member of the CWA and town busybody, Sam decides that she is finally moving on from her life as a victim at the hands of her husband. Her life was now her own to live and rebuild from the aftermath. Healing and gaining her confidence back were going to take time, but she was looking forward to spreading her wings and trying new things.
Pierce DeAngelis arrives at Settlers Bridge to help his friend Gabrielle with catering for a wedding. When asked he jumped at the opportunity — life in Adelaide was becoming too tense working as a chef in his parents’ trattoria. His troublesome younger brother Dante had returned, and he wasn’t going to sit back and watch his parents make excuses for his brothers’ actions.
When Pierce meets Sam, he is drawn to her. She is very tense and anxious, but Pierce sees something in her and was willing to take the time until her walls came down. Both are looking for a fresh start, when an opportunity to start a future business together restoring Pelicanet, a 150-year-old paddle-wheeler, on the river’s edge. Could this be the solace they are looking for?
This is not a fast-paced story, but it is filled with emotion and drama, with compelling dialogue, thorough descriptive narrative, and a driven plot to push the reader to follow the two main characters Samantha, and Pierce to the very end.
I instantly liked both. Sam has a caring nature but a hard exterior and does not open herself up to people. As her character moved forward, it was a joy to see her blossom and come out of her shell. Pierce is respectful of boundaries, dependable and trustworthy. They are good people doing noble work for all the right reasons.
Samantha and Pierce’s pain from the past was depicted well enough, you can understand why they were fearful of letting down their defences and getting involved in a relationship. Their hearts have indeed become undone by past tragedy. Kelsall does more than tell us just how damaged this couple is; we see it in the hesitancy of the early interactions and the self-doubt that pops up on occasion. Can they put the past in its proper place for the future?
I grew up in a small town and I love the portrayal of the closeness and warmth of small-town feels at its best. The delightful cast of characters from previous books are easy to connect with, I felt as though I was reconnecting with old friends.
As with a small town, you get the busybodies who feel free to voice their own opinions on the town folk and no one gossips more than the ladies from the CWA, especially Christine. Regardless of her blabbermouth she has a kind heart and shows compassion.
Leonie Kelsall has a deft hand when it comes to writing romance. She chooses her words and scenes carefully so that the reader never forgets that romance does not always come easy in the real world. Sometimes it may need a little help from a magical setting, a good friend, or simply kismet.
What I liked most about The Willow Tree Wharf was the sensitivity and care with which the author crafted the domestic abuse, each scene and the interaction between the characters.
I loved the cover of the book, readers will be drawn to the wholesome feel and beautiful setting, it shows warmth and happiness and will attract readers to this genre.
From the moment I started reading The Willow Tree Wharf, I was hooked. I have read Kelsall’s novels prior and have always enjoyed her novels, but this one was really a standout for me. I highly recommend.
A selection of our members are reading The Willow Tree Wharf by Leonie Kelsall. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.