Author: Victoria Purman
Only We Know is the latest Victoria Purman novel, also set in South Australia, and leaving me itching to travel. Much of this latest offering is set on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. I have lived in South Australia for almost half of my life and have never been to KI, never really felt the need…. until now. Yet again Purman has painted a vivid and enchanting picture of a local place that has me itching to go and see it with my own eyes.
The cover image is gorgeous green grass right up to the sea, and it is an actual photo of Kangaroo Island taken by none other than Purman herself. I think there is quite a bit of Purman in this one, she obviously love Kangaroo Island and I sense a deep appreciation of wine and chocolate in her personality traits also because lead character Calla must have inherited them from somewhere.
I was rapidly swept up in the story of Only We Know and quite early on I could see where things were going and had quite a clear idea of how the story would end – and I wasn’t disappointed. Having said that I was still enraptured by the unfolding of the story as the characters got to know each other and themselves.
Calla Maloney has embarked on a mission to mend the cracks, well they’re actually more like chasms, in her family. She is an art teacher in Adelaide and has made the most of school holidays to take an impromptu trip to Kangaroo Island searching for her long lost brother. He disappeared from the lives of Calla and her sister Rose two years ago and they have heard nothing from him since.
The ferry ride to KI has Calla feeling decidedly green, part of it seasickness and part of it nerves about where this journey will lead her. In the two years since she has seen her brother she has managed to make a mess of her life so this is the first step in a pilgrimage for Calla to simplify her life. The weather is dismal and the crossing is choppy so when Calla finds herself about to lose her lunch she heads off in search of a way out of the cabin and onto the ferry deck, which is when the handsome helpful stranger points her in the right direction.
Sam Hunter is the handsome stranger, one time resident of KI now an Adelaide firefighter. He is heading back to the island to try and convince his dad it’s time to leave the family farm and move into a retirement home but it is an uphill battle that has been raging for over a year. Charlie is starting to lose his memory and is becoming a real worry for his family, never sure where they will find him or how lucid he will be.
Calla and Sam run into one another a few times and when she literally runs into him, writing off her car, he takes on the role of tour guide after staying close to keep an eye on her the first night to rule out concussion.
Sam has been gone from the island for a long time and he takes it’s beauty very much for granted, these are the views he grew up with and he saw them every day. He begins to see them through new ones when he shows Calla the sights because she sees them with such a fresh perspective having never visited the island before.
These characters have both had it tough, for very different reasons they have both shut down their hearts and sworn off relationships. They seem to have quite a lot in common though in very different ways. There are secrets buried in both of their family pasts and they both find themselves on the island to deal with family drama.
There were times that I found myself quite unsympathetic to Calla, some of her decisions prior to the book made it difficult for me feel for her and some of her thought processes as the story played out at times had me wanting to shake her. I must admit that as her back story was fleshed out I started to see how things came about and became a little more understanding even if I couldn’t bring myself to be sympathetic.
Sam on the other hand was extremely easy to be sympathetic too. He has done it rough and anyone would be able to understand his reactions but in the end they are self-sabotaging. So much of his life has been out of his control that it’s no wonder he thrives on the authority afforded to him in his chosen career.
Sympathetic or not these characters were extremely likeable as people, as were all of the characters in the book. In a short space of time they managed to get to know more about one another than anyone else ever had, which taught them just as much about themselves.
A tale of family, of secrets, and of new beginnings. A tale that shows you can change the legacy of a family, secrets and lies don’t have to travel through the generations. Another outstanding offering from Victoria Purman that ignited a spark or wanderlust.
Only We Know is available now from Harlequin Books and where all good books are sold.
Only We Know is book #23 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.