Author: Mandy Magro
Charlize Dawson is a talented Sydney reporter working through the fallout of an adulterous marriage. She is grieving, she is angry and she is sick of the constant attempts at contact by her cheating husband. Charlize needs some space to work through her feelings and that is something Alistair won’t let her have. Her boss at The Insider also happens to be an old family friend and he puts her forward for a promotion, if she takes a week to head to a country town to interview cowboy Dallas Armstrong who is working towards becoming crowned the Australian Bull Riding Champion. She is a city girl through and through which makes the whole idea of living in the sticks for a week quite daunting for her, but this promotion is what she’s been working towards her entire career so she has to give it a shot.
Dallas Armstrong is a bull riding champion, farmer and loving son. We meet him early on as he struggles to digest things he has overheard and the tragic death of his father. He is suffering through his grief and his guilt as he tries to stay strong for his mum. He is kind and sensitive and not sure he likes the idea of being interviewed for a Sydney paper.
The characters are well drawn and I could feel their grief. There is an element of suspense running through the story and it isn’t resolved until close to the end. I kept waiting and waiting thinking it was about to be revealed but it was kept under wraps quite well.
I did find it all to be a little predictable and could see what was going to happen but I still enjoyed the slow unfolding. There was a scene quite close to the end that I found very difficult to suspend disbelief for and it did mar my enjoyment of the closing chapters. I don’t believe that these characters would actually have it play out like that so it didn’t feel genuine.
The romance is all encompassing in Walking the Line; as well as the chemistry between Charlize and Dallas we are treated to the very sweet romances of other couples. Magro managed to tell the story of Reg and Nancy, Dallas’s grandfather and late grandmother, and Dallas’s parents. Both his mum and his grandfather are widowers still grieving the loss of their spouse, still feeling the loss intensely regardless of the passage of time and we are treated to their love stories and the enduring nature of some loves. The kind of love many of us aspire to and hope to find for ourselves.
I like the storyline and the flow of Walking the Line, the characters are endearing and watching city girl Charlize begin to embrace her time on the farm was a joy. She was sure she would struggle out of ‘civilisation’ but found that Grenfell wasn’t quite the end of the earth she was expecting. She found a sense of belonging and embraced the spaces, the animals and the people in a way she hadn’t expected.
I quite like Mandy Magro’s stories but there is something about them that makes it difficult for me to be completely enthralled and in love with her storytelling. I’m not quite sure I can explain what it is. The bones of the story are great, the characters I can completely feel but there’s something a little simplistic about the method of storytelling that holds me at a bit of a distance. I have loved all of the stories I have read that Magro has created but they haven’t completely enchanted me.
All in all Walking the Line is a beautiful story of love in all its forms, it’s also an interesting look at farming and rodeo with quite a bit of country music thrown in. Lovers of the rural genre are sure to get a kick out of the latest by bestselling Australian author Mandy Magro.
Walking the Line is book #61 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.