BOOK CLUB: Eight Seconds

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Eight Seconds by Frances Dall’Alba is set in rural Australia. It is a story with romance, survival, passion, and courage to follow your dreams.

In 1966 twelve year old Grace Lucas has a troubled home life. To escape her father’s temper she is able to ride a horse, Megaton, at her neighbour Liz’s farm. Megaton was Grace’s true friend.

Liz took her own sons and Grace to a Rodeo. Liz entered Grace into the poddy competition.

Grace nearly changed her mind. The only way to stop being scared was to give it a go. She just had to hold on tight for eight seconds – how hard could it be!?

Grace was the only rider to make the eight seconds. They were the longest in her entire life and she would never forget them. She was hooked.

Little did she know the rodeo world was a male-dominated sport. Being a girl had never stopped Grace from doing anything. But, the Association rules were that girls were not allowed to compete against boys. Reluctantly they allowed her to have the trophy.

In the present day, Erin Blackwater spends her weekends at her grandparent’s tranquil acreage property with her dog Lacey. Her grandparents, and parents are all pulling her in different directions.

Erin has taken a break from her medical degree. She has completed 4 years and still has 2 years to go. Her parents, brother, and boyfriend are all doctors. Erin realises that it is THEIR dream for her, but it is not HER dream.

Erin has taken a job as a medical researcher. Her first project is to interview Grace and document her miracle recovery.

Erin needs to delve into Grace’s past health and emotional factors that might have contributed to her rehabilitation.

The interview is some years after Grace’s rodeo days have finished. Her house is filled with trophies and ribbons from horse shows. Grace explains that her horse and her family mean the world to her.

As Grace relates her life story, leaving home at an early age, suffering abuse, troubled marriages, and a happy one, a passionate love of horses shines through.

Grace has lived her life to the fullest without fear or regrets.

Erin is inspired by Grace’s strength and resilience and realises that she needs to take control over her own life and make changes. 

She needs to start with her relationship first. She had met her boyfriend in college days. Her parents love him but since living together a sinister side of his nature has surfaced.

Erin wonders about where her love and connection to animals and the countryside has come from. Could it be from her other grandparents who she has never met?

Grace has organised Tom, a friend and local vet to give Erin horse riding lessons. Will Erin have the courage and strength to follow her own dreams, at the risk of upsetting her family?

This exceptional story of two strong women is narrated by Grace with chapters in the past and present, and by Erin telling her own story in the present.

Fate has brought Grace, Erin and Tom together. The action in their lives keeps you engaged. Some events will make you laugh, but others are filled with sadness.

What makes this book even more amazing, is that Grace’s character is based on the life of Dianne Lucas Lippi. Frances discovered Dianne’s story while searching The Women’s Museum of Australia to find an inspiring woman to base a story on. Frances says that it is not a biography but a story inspired by the life Dianne has lived so far. At the end of the book is a link to a photo gallery of Dianne. Rodeo changed in 1984 when the sex discrimination Act was passed. Women could no longer be excluded.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.

A selection of our members are reading Eight Seconds by Frances Dall’Alba. You can read their feedback in the comments below, or add your own review.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Eight Seconds

  1. Eight Seconds by Frances Dall’Alba is a story about courage, passion and the determination to make your own path. Set against a backdrop of horses, rodeos and country shows, it tells the story of Grace Lucas who overcomes a troubled family life and numerous hardships to become famous as Australia’s first female bull rider. The eight seconds of the title being the length of a qualified ride, ie the rider must attempt to stay on a bull for at least eight seconds.
    Grace’s story as she looks back on the setbacks she has overcome as well as the glory moments she has achieved, act as inspiration for young Erin who is at a cross roads in her own life. Meeting Grace helps Erin face her own challenges, work out what she wants and to live her life on her own terms instead of simply doing what others want for her.
    An enjoyable read which would particularly appeal to horse lovers. And interesting to find out that the story of Grace was based on the real life story of Dianne Lucas Luppi.

  2. I’m not usually a fan of books that jump from past to present and back again but this was different. The first chapter reeled me in hook, line and sinker!

    I absolutely fell in love with the characters and their stories but most of Grace! What I wouldn’t give to spend hours with her reliving all of her memories! What an amazing woman!

    When finishing the book I was pleasantly surprised to read the authors note about how the story came about and am very impressed with the research that went into it. Inspired by Dianne Luppi, the author was able to write a story based on her remarkable history.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Frances D’Allba for the opportunity to read and review 8 Seconds. It was an absolute masterpiece!

    1. Thank you so much to Beauty and Lace and Frances Dall’Alba for the opportunity to read and review Eight Seconds.
      I loved that the book was based on a true story of the very of the very first female bull rider. It told the story of Grace Lucas and all of the hurdles and tribulations she encountered as she succeeded in becoming a fantastic female rodeo rider. Grace’s character was inspired by Dianne Lucas Luppi.

      Throughout the story it crosses between the past and present but it didn’t confuse me.
      Grace meets Erin during the novel and each of their lives forever change.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and would highly recommend.

  3. Based on the life of Dianne Lucas Luppi, this contemporary fiction book takes us through the decades of the 60’s, 70’s and the present day. Enjoyable read. Thankyou Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this. Frances Dall’Alba did a fantastic job capturing Mrs Luppis life achievements

  4. Like others I often find reading books which go from past to present and back and forth quite intense and hard to read! Not so with Eight Seconds! I am a fan of Frances Dall’Alba’s writing and she hasn’t disappointed me in this compelling story.
    Unique, strong character with pasts which have an impact on future decisions. Eight seconds to stay on a horse may seem a lifetime and it does at the time but these seconds play an important part in Grace’s future. Meeting Erin and Tom brings this story together. An enjoyable read!

  5. Another good story from Frances Dall’Alba based on a true story of Australia’s first female bull rider.
    I enjoyed the story of Grace as a young girl trying to find her way in life. She has a great spirit and plenty of courage.
    It was an interesting way to bring her life into view via the interviews with Erin.

  6. This book surprised me, and I feel is Frances Dall’Alba’s best so far.
    The story is written from an interview style persepctive.
    Erin is doing medical researh and begins to interview Grace (based on real life of Dianne Lucas Luppi, and her Roseo career).
    As Grace tells her story, we go back and forth in time, but it is very well written.
    Through it all, Erin comes to admire Grace and all she has achieved and overcome in her life, and is made to realise herself, she has some big changes to make in her own life, and some hard decisions, to find her true self and happiness sh craves.
    Both such likeable women, and both equally strong and determined, you can’t help but keep turning the pages.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review ‘8 Seconds’ and to follow along as Frances Dall’Alba evolves into a wonderful novelist.

  7. Thank you, so much Beauty and Lace, this is the third book of Frances Dall’Alba that I’ve read, I was rivetted to the story and really enjoyed that Grace’s story is based on Dianne Lucas Lippi an inspirational woman giving the boys a run for their money and smashing through that stereotypical glass ceiling. With Grace proving that if you have the passion and the drive, accepting no is just not an option and showing that anything the men can do, women can do better.

    Grace finds peace and solace with Liz’s family who treat her more like a daughter than her own father does and loves nothing more than riding bareback with the smell of the eucalypt, and wildflowers surrounding them.

    A dual timeline story, featuring Western Australia’s North, flitting back to Grace’s youth as Grace wondered why her mother never sided with her and didn’t intervene when her father dealt out his undeserved punishment. Then present day when accident prone Erin stumbles into Grace’s ward, Grace is taken aback as to how quickly she warms to the young researcher and as she learns more of Erin’s story. How alike their family life mirrors each other’s, and maybe Grace could convince Erin of her profound love of horses, and how life changing they can be and the impact they make on your life, and that they’ll open your eyes and how you can’t help but then see the world from a totally different perspective.

  8. I absolutely loved this story, mostly because I am an avid fan of stories with a base in truth. I really admired the character Grace, based on Diane Lucas Lippi, who showed courage and dedication to her passion for riding bulls in the male dominated rodeo world. Grace as a character is well developed and is very inspiring as her story displays all the determination and passion required to break through the many challenges on her life journey. I found the interweaving of the past and present well written and eventful. I will recommend this book to my very elderly neighbor who also loves to read about strong, determined and passionate women. In our current social climate, we women need such inspiration to follow our dreams no matter how old we are.

  9. Strength, stubborn, health challenged, passionate and unfortunate – these words could all be used to describe Grace. She’s had a life and a half, achievements and tragedy. She liked to live her life 8 seconds at a time, she liked to feel the adrenaline and fear of bull riding.
    Erin is at a point in her life where changes need to happen, decisions need to be made and in the interim, she has a job to do. She has taken a year off from studying medicine, much to the disgust of her family and boyfriend. But her work in medical research will hope to help her to get to her goal, to find the answers she seeks. She didn’t count on Grace, the client she has to interview to find out her medical trail, how she got to where she is. She didn’t count on a life story to go with the medical, of an invitation to think about another life. Is she brave enough to follow Grace’s lead?
    Frances Dall’Alba writes a great story, drawing you in, helping you emote. I really enjoyed this read, thanks Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity.

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