BOOK CLUB: Starting From Scratch

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Starting from Scratch by Penelope Janu is a rural romance with a conscience. It takes up the cause of climate change and the environment as well as dealing with addiction and the impact it has on families. Penelope Janu is an award-winning Australian author whose novels have an environmental focus and feature strong women.

Sapphie Brown has had a tough upbringing, losing her mother in an accident when she was a child and being estranged from her father. She finally feels that she’s found a place to call home in the country community of Horseshoe Hill.

Sapphie keeps herself terribly busy, maybe too busy, she teaches at the local school (living in the schoolhouse) chairs the local environmental committee, helps troubled teens at the youth centre and cares for ex-racehorses. She does much of this work at an old farmhouse which she has fallen in love with.

Unexpectedly an old childhood friend, Matts Laaksonen, appears. He says he’s here to warn her but suddenly he’s popping up everywhere. Sapphie and Matts were very close as children in South America and Canberra. It’s not evident at first what caused the rift between them but it is clear that Sapphie hasn’t forgiven him for a betrayal and doesn’t want to give him a second chance. Matts is a highly regarded environmental engineer and joins the local environmental committee. As well as the tension between them as the story progresses there is an obvious physical attraction.

The descriptions of the Australian bush are a feature of this novel, which given Sapphie’s environmental focus works very well. She also loves to create flowers from paper and has a very creative eye for colour – she doesn’t see just one colour but many shades so where most people would see yellow she sees “Saffron, lemon, amber and gold”. This recurrent theme throughout the book made me start looking at nature and considering the many different hues and shades in colours.

It was thought-provoking to read a rural romance that has such an emphasis on the environment. As a country, we must deal with the many environmental problems our beautiful country is struggling with before it’s too late Introducing these ideas through popular fiction is an effective approach, reaching people who might not normally read about these issues.

I enjoyed reading this novel and its focus on important issues only added to the story. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this enjoyable rural romance.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Starting from Scratch by Penelope Janu. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 978-1-4892-7878-4
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Starting From Scratch

  1. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins, I was given the chance to read ‘Starting from Scratch’ by Penelope Janu.

    We return to Horseshoe Hill for Sapphire and Matts story, I did read ‘Up on Horseshoe Hill’ and l enjoyed it but felt this book was not as good. It was still well written but I felt the back stories of Sapphire and Matts were a bit over the top and not believable. I also found it a little hard keeping track of the story. I did enjoy reading about the environmental element.

    Overall I was a little disappointed, but I did love the first book ‘Up on Horseshoe Hill’ so I think I had high expectations for this one. You don’t have to have read the first book to read ‘Starting from Scratch.’ I look forward to reading more books from Penelope Janu.

  2. Thanks to Beautyandlace for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful rural romance.
    I always love a good love story specially when it’s set on a rural environment ad it has got that old school charm and values.
    I loved all the characters specially sapphie as she feels so relatable. I loved the fact that they had environmental issues embedded to it.
    The story was very easy to follow and the book was hard to put down once started overall a great read.

  3. Starting from Scratch, Penelope Janu.

    I have read numerous books written by author Penelope Janu and have enjoyed all of these. Penelope has the ability to embrace the reader and bring them into her imagination, describing the beautiful rural setting, the smells of the fresh air, garden and treats from the kitchen. Penelope describes the complex characters and the even more complex emotions & traumas they have experienced, clearly having done a lot of research into important environmental issues and the experiences of the troubled teens from the local youth centre, all of which make for a very interesting story.

    This is a beautiful rural romance story and a pleasure to read. Thank you to Beauty & Lace Bookclub and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read such a lovely story.

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