Book Club: Willow Tree Bend

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Author: Kaye Dobbie
ISBN: 9781489245465
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher/NetGalley

Kaye Dobbie is an Australian author with an extraordinary talent for weaving timelines and generations into a compelling and cohesive novel that is both contemporary and historical. This is the second novel I have read, with one more still on my TBR shelf awaiting a quiet time to get to it, and it seems that the dual timelines is a storytelling tool she uses often.

The dual timelines in Willow Tree Bend are not as far apart as some of her previous ones but that hasn’t changed the masterful mystery and sense of suspense built throughout the story.

Hope Taylor is a Hollywood actress suffering a stall to her career, she’s at a crossroad and decides to do a reality show back in Australia called Looking Back, a show that looks back into the pasts of those featured and brings forth the little known facts and secrets. Hope goes in expecting to be able to control what the investigators find and what goes into the show then cash in on the publicity with interviews, TV appearances and maybe even a book; all great ways to kickstart her lagging career. I can understand all of this, it makes the show seem like a good idea… but if you have secrets to hide it’s not the greatest way to get back in the limelight.

Faith Taylor is Hope’s older sister, still living in Willow Tree Bend, and working on her own line of desserts. She hasn’t always been in Willow Tree Bend though, there was a time in 1969 that she spread her wings and moved to Melbourne. The fresh-faced 17yr old Faith hit the city lights of Melbourne and worked in the infamous The Angel nightclub. She returned to Willow Tree Bend and it was never spoken of again.

Now it’s 2000 and the prodigal daughter is returning for a short time to film the reality show designed to unearth all of the family secrets, Faith gets a mysterious phone call at work and takes off to settle unfinished business; leaving everyone at home worried about her because it is extremely out of character.

The story is told from three perspectives, Hope, Faith and Samantha. Hope’s storyline is in the present, Faith tells of her time in Melbourne in 1969 and Samantha, who is Faith’s daughter, also has a present day story arc.

There is quite a lot of mystery in these pages and Dobbie weaves clues slowly through the narrative so we are left making theories, connecting dots (with half of them missing) and drawing conclusions from the paltry store of parceled out clues; only to jump to the wrong conclusions and discover that there are more secrets hidden in the Taylor closet than anyone realised.

The Taylor girls were very close growing up and they always dreamed of getting out of Willow Tree Bend together, so when Faith left for Melbourne in ’69 it put a strain on her relationship with Hope. A strain that they struggled to get back from, Hope then fled to make a career for herself and the close sisters drifted apart. Hope’s return in 2000 sees her first trip back in a decade, and it shows in her relationships with the rest of the cast.

This distance between the sisters seems reasonably normal for considering the physical distance between them, until you start to discover the true depth of their isolation from one another and the strain in the relationship between all of the family.

Willow Tree Bend is a story that I loved; the mystery of the slow unraveling secrets, the characters, the vibrant drawing of The Angel in ’69. The recurring themes in the lives of the leading ladies is interesting to note and again, Dobbie’s writing is captivating. The weaving of timelines is fluid rather than jarring and I just wanted to keep reading, I needed to uncover all of the secrets; some of which were a little predictable but some of which blew me away.

I would have liked a couple more chapters at the end to see how everything panned out and what was resolved, there were a few too many unanswered questions. I am also still not completely sold on the fact that Hope would choose to do Looking Back with the skeletons in her closet, she didn’t know about anyone else’s secrets but hers were enough that she didn’t want anyone knowing so why would you risk it… The arguments put forward as to why she did were realistic and convincing but I’m still a little sceptical.

There is an element of romance, actually there are a few elements of romance because there is romance in the life of each of our leading ladies. We see the sweet rush of first love, the enduring love of a long term relationship, the slow unfolding of attraction in people who have been burned before and the excitement of coming close to your first celebrity crush. All of the relationships were sympathetically explored and we were able to get to know the characters better because of them.

This isn’t a romance story though, the main story is one of family and mystery; a story of long held secrets coming out. It was well written, captivating, vibrant and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly.

Willow Tree Bend is book #39 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Kaye Dobbie can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Willow Tree Bend is published by Harlequin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Willow Tree Bend so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

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19 thoughts on “Book Club: Willow Tree Bend

  1. My thanks to Harlequin Publishers and Beauty & Lace for supplying the latest book for review, ‘Willow Tree Bend’ by Kaye Dobbie.

    Being the third pick of my choices for this month of reviews, I was a little sceptical as to just how much I might enjoy this book. Well how refreshing it was to experience an unexpected story line; different from the typical love scorned, return to your place of birth, rekindle your past love and live happily ever after.

    A novel full of non-stop intrigue, totally believable characters full of flaws. The story line is based in 1969 in Melbourne VIC told from the perspective of 17 year old Faith Taylor who has escaped the cloistering confines of her country life to experience the thrills of the city. Thrown into a workplace of drinking, drugs, criminals, lecherous men, prostitution and a criminal police investigation the reader experiences the unexpected highlights of this wild lifestyle. With each ensuing chapter the author slowly unveils the events of 1969, keeping the reader constantly guessing. At the same time the author gives us details of modern day in 2000, introducing us to Hope Taylor, Faith’s younger sister. The chapters are also told from the perspective of Faith’s daughter, Sam who is trying to unravel the family secrets of the past in order to understand the strange and sudden disappearance of her mother.

    This book touches on topics of family loyalty, jealousy, love, despair, keeping secrets at all costs, living with consequences of your actions and murder. Kaye Dobbie intertwines an interesting but more lighthearted story of a love interest for Sam in the form of her teenage music idol, come semi reclusive neighbour Lincoln Hall. Co-incidences and snippets of information lead to revealing more interesting and unexpected details.

    It was a hard book to put down, resulting in broken sleep. I just needed to read on to reveal more clues. I was also tempted to search through near the end to find out the conclusion to the mystery – nearly tempted!!!

    I would highly recommend this book. It was totally enthralling, capable of captivating a reader to the very end. It was the first Kaye Dobbie book I have read and I will be on the lookout for further novels by this talented author.

  2. A big Thankyou to Harlequin Publishers and Beauty & Lace for supplying the latest book for review, ‘Willow Tree Bend’ by Kaye Dobbie.
    I have found the book to be very interesting just about every person in the book was related in some way or another. A murder is committed at a night club where anything goes on in the club. A very good read.

  3. ‘Willow Tree Bend’ is the first Kaye Dobbie book I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    The story follows Faith Taylor, her sister Hope and Faith’s daughter Sam.
    When Faith mysteriously leaves her family with only a critic phone call to Hope they are all worried and left wondering what is going on.
    Faith’s story follows her time in Melbourne during 1969 when she left Willow Tree Bend for a new adventure in Melbourne where she worked at an infamous club the Angel. The Angel had some shady going ons and when Faith is told by a policeman that a former waitress at the Angel was murdered, her sense of justice makes her realise she must do what she can to help the police bring the killer to justice.
    Faith’s younger sister Hope is a famous actress who has lived in New York for many years, Hope’s part in the story is in the present day of 2000.
    Hope is returning to Australia to star in a TV documentary Looking Back, before her return Hope receives a phone call from Faith saying she had to go, mentioning The Angel and a photograph of Hope, Faith, their mother and Samantha that had been reprinted ahead of Hope’s return home, leaving Hope with more questions than answers and very worried.
    Upon returning home Hope starts looking for answers to where Faith is and what she is hiding, realising that it stems from her time working at The Angel, all whilst she has a documentary crew following her around, ready to pounce on anything that the world may not know about the famous Hope Taylor. Can Hope find out Faiths secrets all whilst trying to keep her own secrets hidden.
    Sam’s story is also written at the present time, focusing on her relationship with her aunt who she doesn’t know that well and her concerns for her Mum, with a bit of romance thrown in. Piecing together snippets of conversation she has overheard Sam is determined to get to the truth. She is certain there is a connection between The Angel and Willow Tree Bend.
    Dobbie has done a superb job of blending the three stories together they all flow smoothly into one another with no gaps. Right from the first page I was intrigued and kept guessing about the sisters secrets.
    I thought I had the secrets and events worked out but wasn’t 100% sure I was on the right track until towards the end.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the chance to read and review Willow Tree Bend.

  4. Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it . It is the first book by Kaye Dobbie I have read and will definitely be reading her others!
    This is an engaging story written in an easy to read manner about family and secrets past and present. Wanting to know and guessing what the secrets are keep you interested!

    The main characters are two sisters Faith and Hope Taylor and Samantha who is Faith’s daughter. Their story is set in two time lines, 1969 and 2000.

    Faith and Hope plan to escape their small town home Willow Tree Bend together. However in 1969 Faith leaves first and finds a job at The Angel, Melbourne’s most infamous night club. Hope is jealous, but has her own teenage romance in Willow Tree Bend before leaving to become an actress in New York.
    Although they were close as children…they now both have secrets!

    In 2000 Hope’s career in New York is at a standstill. She agrees to return to Australia to be on a program “looking Back”. The “secrets” are about to be exposed by the Looking Back researchers.
    What are the secrets and who will they hurt!
    It is a good read.

  5. AS my third pick of the books available for this month, I was a bit hesitant about whether I would enjoy Willow Tree bend. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was wrapped up inthe storyline and wondering about how it would end.

    A very well written book by Kaye Dobbe with a lot of thought gone into making the characters believable and not the typical run of the mill story.

    I also loved the way it left the ending open with another secret to be revealed, does that mean a sequel?? It also ended with the feeling that no matter what happens they are no longer a dis jointed family but one that will stick with each and support each other.

    Thank you for the read

  6. Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie published by Harlequin Australia 2017, my rating 5/5 stars for the genre, 3/5 over all, a highly enjoyable book that I had to read to the end! A clever, engaging, character driven tale of two sisters Hope and Faith, and daughter Sam unravelling incidents at infamous Melbourne night club The Angel in 1969. Told in a sequence of chapters each from a sister or the daughter’s point of view and clearly labelled by year, 2000 or 1969, the stories fills in bit by bit. You are kept guessing, as you grow to care about each woman, and question the motives of the people in their lives. Could Kitty be trusted, was she involved with the dark deeds and missing girl at The Angel, what about the charming Ray, what really happened with the police. Without spoilers, the book spirals to reveal surprises right to the end. Highly recommended, for a fun, story full of twists, loves and lusts.

  7. Thanks for selecting me to read this book
    I have never read any of Kaye Dobbie bookies before and I can honestly say I throughly enjoyed this book
    The main characters are two sisters Faith and Hope who grew up in a small town called Willow Tree Bend
    The chapters in the book go from 1969 to 2000 but readers will not get confused by this
    The story unfolds beautifully and readers will be surprised with the ending and the secrets that are revealed ( no spoilers from me )

  8. Willow Tree Bend – a story with dual timelines Faith in the 1960s and Hope (her sister) and Sam (her daughter) in the present.

    Faith had gone to the big city in the 1960’s and worked at a nightclub, the events that happened there form the “mystery’ of this book, what were they? how do they impact on today? those are the impelling questions that made me keep reading until the end.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for introducing me to Kaye Dobbie, its great to find well written aussie novels

  9. Willow Tree Bend

    I really enjoyed Willow Tree Bend. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and although it doesn’t quite fit that genre it was a good easy weekend read.
    The story centres around two sisters Hope and Faith and tells the story of their family and secrets that are close to home.
    Hope is a famous actress who has returned home to Willow Tree Bend where her family has lived for years to film an episode of Looking Back; about her early life before becoming famous.
    Faith is married to Joe who’s family owned the local milk bar in the small country town and they have a daughter Samantha who is starting up a gardening business .
    The story is told through the three women; Hope, Faith and Sam.
    It is 2000 and Faith has disappeared from Willow Tree Bend just before Hope returns home and it has something to do with the time she spent working in a nightclub called Angel in 1969 as a 17 year old girl. Faith as a young woman had wanted to escape the boring small country life she lived and was excited to be working in a nightclub in Melbourne. Something happened at the nightclub and Faith returns home not quite the same young woman that left Willow Bend. The secret of why she returned home never revealing itself to her family.
    There are the three women’s stories interweaved that keep you wanting to read to the end – to find out what happened to Faith at the Angel, why is Hope so scared of her past being revealed, what is the connection between the Angel and Willow Tree Bend. No spoilers you’ll have to read it to find out what the connections and secrets are.

    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the chance to read and review Willow Tree Bend it is a great read.

  10. Willow Tree Bend was my first pick and I could not have been more impressed! It is a fabulous book and one that definitely stays in your mind – always a good test for a great book. I had no knowledge of Kaye Dobbie before I read this but I’ll be looking out for her other works.
    I love stories with time lines and it was incredibly easy to follow the different time lines. The writing was excellent, easy to follow but with the reader wanting more. I’d actually LOVE a sequel! The suspense was brilliantly written – definite suspense with the reader wanting to be able to speed up the reading to discover more but not something that gave me nightmares or had me wandering the house in the middle of the night.
    I loved the way the characters developed and their interaction with each other. The information regarding “Angel,” a night club that was much more, was incredibly interesting and fitted into the story brilliantly. I also loved the way Hope became “more human” as the story progressed. Her famous life style as an actress gave way beautifully to her once more putting her small town values ahead of her fame and fortune.
    It is impossible for me to add any story lines without spoilers, Michelle has done a great job in her review, suffice to say I believe this book would have an incredibly wide and very satisfied audience.
    It is wonderful to find an Australian Woman author with such a wonderfully interesting and effective novel. Thank you, Kaye Dobbie for this fabulous work, thank you so much, Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this excellent book and thank you too, Harlequin Mira for generously providing this fabulous book for Beauty and Lace Book Club. I’m sure it will remain a favourite of mine for a long time to come.

  11. Willow Tree Bend written by Australian author Kaye Dobbie and is a story that focuses on dual timelines of Faith in 1969 and Hope her sister and Samantha her daughter in the present.

    The story focuses on Hope a famous actress based in Hollywood whose career has come to a sudden halt so decides she will try and boost her career by returning home to Willow Tree Bend where her family has resided for many years to film an episode of Looking Back, and this is where the producers want to know where and what she has done in her life in Willow Tree Bend and start digging for a bigger story when they realise she has a secret and want to try and reveal what it is, but Hope wants to keep it secret.

    Faith her sister is married to Joe, she has her own business working on a line of desserts and they have a daughter Samantha who is a local business person setting up her own gardening business. The storyline goes between the three family members Hope, Faith and Samantha.

    Just before Hope is to arrive home to film Looking Back, Faith suddenly leaves Willow Tree Bend without giving anyone a reason why, including her husband and her daughter. Samantha wants to find out why her mum has left, and starts looking for reasons and starts digging for information. She discovers that it may have something to do with the time she spent working in Melbourne at a nightclub called the Angel, when she was 17 years old back in 1969. Faith moved to Melbourne to get away from the quiet lifestyle of the country and do something more exciting with her life. Something happened at the Angel and Faith returned home never letting anyone know the reason why.

    There are many things that have happened in the lives of Hope and Faith, from what happened at the Angel, and why Hope wants her past kept as the past and this keeps you wanting to keep reading to find out what really happened in their lives of these women.

    A well written story and I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to read a story about family and mystery within.

  12. Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie
    This is the first novel I have read by this author and I wasn’t disappointed. The blend between timelines is flawless. Many authors struggle with this but Ms Dobbie has it mastered.
    I did find the storyline to be a little slow in places but there were enough hints along the way to keep my interest piqued.
    A few things are left unanswered and left me wanting more, a few more chapters to answer these would have been nice, but this novel isn’t a cliffhanger so I guess I’ll never know.
    Overall this is a well written mystery with a little romance thrown in. I’ll definitely read more from this author.

  13. Willow Tree Bend is a story of secrets. It tells the tales of Faith and Hope two sisters and Sam (Faith’s daughter). This is a coming of age story as it focuses on Faith leaving her small town home for a more different life in the city. She ends up working in a nightclub The Angel where she grows up very quickly
    The novel flips between the present time and the late 60’s
    The two sisters’ pasts come out to meet them when Faith suddenly leaves home after receiving a phone call. Hope whi is an actress living overseas returns home to film a show Looking Back
    Ironically we all end up Looking Back to reveal the past’s secrets and how they have impacted on the present
    This is a story of families and interactions, of romance and secrets. It is a good mix that keeps you turning the pages and speculating what will be revealed
    I enjoyed reading this and will certainly seek out other works by Kaye Dobbie

  14. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for the novel to read.

    Thanks also to Kaye Dobbie for her wonderful story telling.

    This was my first time reading a novel by Kaye Dobbie and she has written others and I shall now be on the look out for them. Knowing me there’s probably one hiding in my TBR pile somewhere.
    Willow Tree Bend is a story about two sisters Faith and Hope and their lives in 1969 and again in 2000.
    Two country sisters getting together after many years apart but first let’s get to know them a little bit.
    It has a touch of Studio 54 in a nightclub called Angel and I’m sure there were many things happening in this nightclub back in 1969. We get to see Faith’s side of the story of the club and what happened to her back in 1969.
    Hope is the movie star come back home to do a tell-all documentary but some things are better left unsaid. Things should remain hidden but what are those things and why are they hidden.
    This is a very indepth story that covers a lot of what happened in the lives of Hope and Faith. Two very different paths were taken back in 1969 and both had different outcomes.

    There are some wonderful smaller stories happening while reading about the main story and these just added to the level of ‘things’ you end up knowing.

    There is so much packed into this story that it was not a quick read but one that you took your time and enjoyed. It’s not a story to rush but more one to roll with and travel through time with.
    Reading slower also meant that I though I had worked out the secret and just had to wait until I got to the end to find out if I was right or not. Yes I was.

    Kaye Dobbie takes you on a journey with this book and it is informative and pleasant. The country life is in enough detail that you want to go find that town. The city life is full on and yet exciting and you almost want to know more secrets.

  15. Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie follows the story of Faith Taylor and her family. It is set in Faith’s past but 30 years on past and present collide. Faith leaves Willow Tree Bend at age 17 and moves to Melbourne to live and work with her cousin Kitty at the infamous nightclub, Angel.
    Faith soon learns that not everything is as it seems and learns that a former waitress at Angel turned up murdered. After the Angel is raided Faith is asked by a detective to help bring down the shadowy owner behind the club’s activities and help solve the murder.
    Thirty years later, Faith is back in Willow Tree Bend with a business, is happily married to her childhood sweetheart Joe and has a daughter, Samantha. Faith’s sister, Hope, a famous movie star is on her way home to film ‘Looking Back’, a take on where you have come from to where you are now. Several days before Hope is due to return Faith disappears with no explanation but it all has something to do with what happened at the Angel 30 years previously. What secret is Faith hiding? Hope also has secrets from her long ago past that she does not want revealed and tries to keep from being found out.
    As Sam and Hope talk about the disappearance of Faith it becomes clear that many things are linked; Willow Tree Bend, the Angel, Faith, Hope and Sam…..as the secrets start to unfold the biggest secret of them all is at the end (certainly did not see that coming) and will have you not putting down this book until you have uncovered all the deepest, darkest secrets of them all.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book, and even though it is set in both the past and present it is an extremely easy read. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for allowing me to read this book.

  16. A few of my own family commitments meant that this took longer for me to read than it should have, but what a wonderful story!
    Each chapter was a different puzzle piece of the Taylor girls and their past or present and all ended up beautifully interweaving with each other (even without the family ties). It was a tough one to put down as the twist and turns kept me enthralled and wanting desperately to find out the secrets that were messing things up.
    The characters were all likeable and relate-able and Kaye Dobbie has left this tale open ended enough that I truly hope there is another book in this story!

  17. Thank you for the Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Harlequin for the opportunity to read this page turning novel.

    This is the first book I have read by Kaye Dobbie and I will definately be on the look out for other books written by her.

    I found this book to be a great read, it is the story of two sisters and the secrets from their past which are all revealed thirty years later. The story has many twists and turns and has a surprising end.

    I would thoroughly recommend this novel to other book lovers.

  18. Thanks Beauty & Lace and Harlequin for allowing me to read & review Willow Tree Bend By Kaye Dobbie.
    It is the first book I’ve read from this author. And I would be likely to pick up another of her works after reading this.
    Hope and Faith are two Sisters who grew up in Willow Tree Bend and were as close as Sister’s can be but life takes both Sister’s in different directions.
    The story is told in past & present form. Jumping from 1969 when Faith left home at 17, to move to Melbourne, getting a job with her cousin, Kitty, in an infamous night club called Angel. To the present day, where Faith is now happily married with a childhood friend and Mother to Samantha, living back in Willow Tree Bend, while Hope is the one who has stretched her wings, living in the U.S. as she pursues her acting, she’s a Hollywood Star. Sister’s are to be reunited when Hope is the focus of a TV Series ‘Looking Back’, a documentary into her past. But a few days before Hope leaves for Australia, she receives a very odd call from her Sister Faith, that left her confused and alarmed. Faith disappears.
    The reader is now taken on a journey into the past, as deep, dark, long buried secrets are brought to light, bit by bit. As Hope, now in Australia, works with Samantha and Faith’s husband, Joe, to find where Faith has disappeared to.
    I really enjoyed this read. I discovered stories inside of stories. The settings, characters and storyline were completely relatable and believable. New questions and the slow unravelling of mysteries from the past kept me fully captivated.
    A great drama read set in Australia with love, family, crime, murder, secrets and a surprising ending….everything that’s needed to create that perfect book.

  19. Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie.

    The story swapped between each character and between 1969 and 2000, leaving the reader wanting to skip ahead to find out what happens.

    Family secrets, mystery, intrigue and a great story. Recommend to others.

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