Author: Kaye Dobbie
Kaye Dobbie has written a spell binding tale of intrigue and mystery in her latest release Sweet Wattle Creek, a novel in which she deftly weaves two very different time periods into one unforgettable story.
Sophie is a journalist in the small country town of Sweet Wattle Creek. The year is 1986 and Sweet Wattle Creek is preparing to celebrate its Centenary. Sophie is a new arrival to the town, having only been around for a year, so a far cry from being a local. She is finding her feet, and her way, in a town where the families can trace the generations back to the founding of the town.
Sweet Wattle Creek may be a small town but they still manage to produce a weekly newspaper, on the very same printing presses that have been used since the paper’s beginnings. Sophie works at the paper and on her arrival one morning she discovers an old cardboard box on the step, when finally she builds the courage to open it she discovers an old wedding dress; obviously destined for the centenary display but mistakenly left at the Herald office.
There is a story behind the wedding dress, Sophie just knows it, and it isn’t long before she gets caught up in the search for answers. The mystery deepens as Sophie is stonewalled every time she tries to ask the locals about the owner of the dress.
Sophie is an intriguing character, we know from the very beginning that she has a story and a past that she would prefer to keep hidden. It is only slowly over time that hints are dropped and we start to piece together the story of her past.
Belle is our other leading lady and her story plays out in alternating chapters. We get a little of her background in Melbourne but then in 1931 she discovers a link to Sweet Wattle Creek and ventures there to investigate, finding life to be very different from what she’s used to. Her upbringing has been quite privileged and she never wanted for anything, or needed to worry about anything, so is unaware of the effects of the Depression. She knew a little about it but hadn’t seen it’s effects firsthand until her arrival in Sweet Wattle Creek, which is also the first time she has had to fend for herself.
Sweet Wattle Creek is an engrossing read that explores many issues from domestic violence, the long range effects of the war and the Depression. Dobbie also takes a close look at the small town community and how it can ostracise as easily as embrace. There are many mysteries hidden in these pages, slowly to be unearthed.
Dobbie captures the essence of her time periods beautifully and creates very realistic characters.
I think what I love the most about this one is the parallels I started to see between Sophie and Belle. They both have mysteries to unravel and pasts left buried just as a beginning but there is a lot more that connects them and if I continue we will be taking a sharp turn into spoilerville.
Sweet Wattle Creek has a romantic element, or two, but there are so many layers to Dobbie’s storytelling that I was engrossed. Dual timelines and protagonists mean alternating chapters and a case of one more chapteritis that always draws out to two or three because the next one is our other heroine.
The two timelines had me separating them much further in my head, but Sweet Wattle Creek is 1931 and 1986 which makes it possible for the characters to factor in both timelines – a factor I hadn’t given enough thought.
Kaye Dobbie has written an emotionally intense tale of secrets and finding yourself against the backdrop of a town’s Centenary and the publicity that could bring. A gripping mystery that kept me guessing, and will keep me on the lookout for more by Kaye Dobbie.
Sweet Wattle Creek is book #51 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015