BOOK CLUB: Wood For The Trees

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[Total: 5 Average: 3.4]

Wood for The Trees by Ian Belshaw is an easy read with characters you can relate to.

Luke Barkley has an obsession with old-time bushrangers.  He can only see the romance of their lives and disregards the fact that they were simply lawbreakers that stole and often killed innocent people. 

Luke decides to live his life as a modern-day bushranger and follows the lead of bushrangers from the past.  Things don’t go quite as he had planned and he begins to see that perhaps this lifestyle was not as romantic as he had thought. 

His good upbringing starts to cause conflict with his bushranger life…but he is in too deep.

wood for the trees

Stephen Owens has spent his life as a police officer and finds himself hunting down this modern-day bushranger.  As he becomes more involved in the case he also has personal concerns for his marriage. 

Somehow things are just not the same. There is a breakdown in communication between him and his wife that he decides he will work on and repair. But, he sidelines that until after he captures his criminal.

As Luke and Stephen’s paths finally cross nothing goes the way either of them wanted or expected.

This was a story that was a great weekend read.  A story that’s very real.  I felt that I understood exactly where both main characters were coming from.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Wood for The Trees by Ian Belshaw. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781922444011 / Publisher: Shawline Publishing Group

18 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Wood For The Trees

  1. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Wood for the Trees by Ian Belshaw.

    Luke Barclay, a young man fascinated by the history and romance of Bushrangers, decides to become a modern day bushranger. He leaves home, he still lives with his parents, and heads into the Australian bush where his heroes of yesteryear became famous.

    He becomes known to police for his unusual crimes.
    Stephen Owens a veteran police officer is in charge of the case. He interviews Luke’s parents who can not believe their son capable of any of the events unfolding.
    This is a wake up call for Stephen as he realises he really doesn’t know his own children.

    Luke and Stephen’s lives are on a course together…..the hunted and the pursuer. The title Wood for the Trees is apt, as both Luke and Stephen do not notice what is important about their lives as a whole.

    A good , suspenseful ,crime novel.
    4 stars

  2. Thanks to Beauty and Lace Magazine and Shawline Publishing Group, I recently had the opportunity to read and review Wood for the Trees by Ian Belshaw
    Like most Australians I grew up with a glorified view of bushrangers. Never thinking of them as criminals, but as heroes making a living. So too, did Luke Barkley the main character (sorry definitely not the hero) in Wood for the Trees.
    Unlike most of us Luke’s fascination takes over his life. He sees himself as a modern day bushranger and sets off for the adventure of a lifetime
    As bushrangers do, he comes to the attention of the law, notably Stephen Owens, a man somewhat jaded by life
    This novel is the story of the two men and the realisations they find on opposite sides of the law
    Ian Belshaw’s writing style made for a pleasant yet thought provoking read. At times, tough issues are tackled yet it still remains a quick and easy read. I read this over two nights and thoroughly enjoyed it
    It had a nice pace while still packing a few surprises along the way

  3. Wood for the Trees is the first novel by Ian Belshaw who has a self-confessed interest in Australian History and deep fascination with language.

    Luke Barclay, the only child of loving middle-class parents, has been fascinated by tales of Australian Bushrangers his whole life. A loner whose bedroom walls are covered in pictures of those with whom he is fascinated, and their derring-do.

    As a young adult, Luke’s fascination develops into a desire to emulate his heroes, and so he begins to practice survival skills in the bush until on June 15th, he quietly leaves his home—dressed in his new bushranger outfit—to begin his new life as a modern day bushranger.

    Stephen Owens is the Senior Police Sergeant in the Central West, with 20 years of policing under his belt. He worries about his children yet lacks the ability to connect with them. He loves his wife, yet increasingly finds it hard to connect with her, a situation perhaps exacerbated by the house rule that he leaves his work at the front door.

    As Luke embarks on his life of crime (for in reality that is what a Bushranger does) there are some almost comedic moments, e.g. crying ‘stand and deliver’ to the person who has stopped to pick you up as a hitch-hiker, as is the pub scene which I won’t give any more detail on so as not to spoil the reader’s experience.

    As Luke’s crime spree escalates, a game of cat and mouse played across NSW between himself and Owens—as the officer assigned to the case—ensues, until it reaches its climatic conclusion.

    In reviewing this book, I find myself conflicted.

    What I have written above is a brief synopsis of the story and it is a good story. Watching the escalation of Luke’s actions, trying to understand what drives a person to take the actions he takes. At the same time being compelled by the conflict being experienced by the middle aged police officer Owens, a product of a society which doesn’t teach men how to connect with their spouse and children, and still be a man.

    And yet, I found the language used by Belshaw to be both evocative, and overwhelming to the point of being a distraction from the tale.

    Many thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Wood for the Trees. I give it 3 stars.

  4. Wood for the trees is a lovely quick read where you can curl up on the couch and finish it in one afternoon.

    For his debut novel Ian Belshaw has done a wonderful job taking us through the Australian bush and beyond with a Ned Kelly feel.

    Luke Barclay, still living at home with his parents decides to head to the Australian bush and pursue his fantasy from youth to become a fearsome modern-day bushranger. Luke comes to the attention of Stephen Owens, a veteran police officer who sets out on a journey to capture him and bring justice but at the same time balancing the burdens of his family life. Two men conflicted with their own personal issues, yet one must come out on top.

    This novel contained great characters and a storyline that keeps you interested. I recommend to all fans of crime and the Australian outback.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing group for the opportunity to read and review.

  5. Loved the storyline, we all love a good bushranger story but I struggled with this book.

    The blurb reads well and outlines an enticing saga, and it did. It just took along time to say what it needed to say. The characters were very believable and well thought out.

    But I read to relax, to enjoy what I am reading, to immerse myself in the story and get away from my everyday life and I couldn’t do that.

    I had to put it down and pick it back up again numerous times. I got frustrated with where one descriptive word would do, there were 3 or 4 or a long string of words. But then I read that the author is a lyricist, and that made sense.

    I got angry? at the ending and got up in a huff. I’m not sure why maybe it just wasn’t the ending I was expecting.

  6. Unfortunately I was not a real fan of this book which is sad as I was really wanted to love it!

    I did enjoy the storyline and the characters, even the look of the book, however I was just a little put off by the style of writing. Sometimes the language felt so descriptive it actually lost you and I found myself rereading sections. It’s a case where I think less words would have still given you a great story but made it a more enjoyable to read.

    I am glad others enjoyed it though!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing Group for the chance to read and review this book.

  7. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Wood for the Trees by Ian Belshaw.

    I was intrigued by the blurb as I’m a sucker for Aussie tales so to speak, especially bushranger style.

    I really enjoyed the storyline and found it a very interesting read that I couldn’t put down!

  8. This one has me baffled a great blurb, a great storyline but I struggled to get into it. It was a challenge to finish, yet you can see the talent the writer has I can’t wait to see the next book to try this author again.
    Thankyou beauty and lace and shawline publishing for the opportunity to read wood for the trees.

  9. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing for this copy to read and review.
    I loved the cover and the story line. Although not a book I would normally read.
    Luke Barclay, obsessed with the stories of bush rangers, decides to become a modern day villain.
    He leads law enforcement on a journey as he continues to commit his crimes across the country.
    The other point of view in this book was Stephen Owens, a veteran police officer, who has his own demons and issues. He is on the hunt for Barclay at whatever cost.
    A modern day cat and mouse story.
    I found it too descriptive at times and my mind would wander off and I had to go back and reread sections. Having read that Ian Belshaw loves language it makes sense but in a way sometimes less is more. I appreciate his writing but just not my style. I am sure others would love it.

  10. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing for the book to read.

    A new Australian author to read for the first time. How exciting.

    Ian Belshaw has created a story around tales we all know, Bushrangers.

    The story is of Luke who all his life has wanted to be a bushranger.
    He studied them since childhood to learn exactly what he would need and how he could become a modern day bushranger. He leads us on an adventure of crimes he commits along the way.

    A veteran Police Officer names Stephen Owens is the officer on the hunt for Luke.
    The story is unique and an amazing one to read as it takes you through the Australian bush and deeper into the story.
    At times I found it hard to read as there seemed to be too many words describing a scene. To me it felt like a very old style of writing.

    I enjoyed it but at times found rereading a passage helped me understand it a bit better.

  11. I don’t know quite what to say about this novel. If I hadn’t been reading it as a review book for Beauty and Lace Bookclub, I would have put it down several times over and not picked it back up. I enjoy poetic, descriptive writing, but this novel was saturated with it to the point I skimmed where I could, but it was hard as in a paragraph of description there might be one sentence that was important to read.

    The story of a man aiming to be a modern-day bushranger and the police officer that pursued him sounded like a great premise for a story, and it was, but I think this would have faired far better as a short story, without the extraordinarily poetic prose, that at times made me wonder if I even understood what the author was trying to convey. He did do a great job of describing the landscape however and I could clearly see the vast Australian plains and the rough Australian bush.

    I had a hard time really connecting to the characters, I felt a lot of the time that I was just being told a story, rather than experiencing the story, then there would be times where I was engaged with the characters only to lose the flow as the writing changed and I was thrown back out again.

    I got to the end of the novel and was upset by the ending, that I’d made my way through this plethora of words and it ended the way it did, I guess it was a good ending, but for me a disturbing one, that didn’t leave me feeling any hope or joy whatsoever.

    I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will thoroughly enjoy this tale of caution.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub ( and Shawline Publishing Group for providing me a copy in return for an honest review.

  12. An interesting story of a young man who wants to be a bushranger and the policeman who pursues him. But, for me, the story got bogged down in the language. I ended up skimming and reading the bits where something happened just to find out what happened. And the ending left me confused!

  13. Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book.
    I did enjoy the storyline but struggled, I found the words perhaps a bit too fancy for me….I know that sounds ridiculous as it is so well written but it made me kind of drift away and have to bring myself back to the story a few times.
    I’m just not quite sure how I feel about this book. The ending wasn’t what I expected. I’m sitting on the fence with this read.

  14. A very wordy tale of a modern day bush ranger.

    What started as an interesting story, took a poetic turn about a third way in and the story became somewhat lost in the detail. A thesaurus was definitely at play as the words became more obscure at this point, further detracting from the story.

    I really wanted to like this but as Ned Kelly was heard to say, such is life!

  15. Ian Belshaw’s Wood for the Trees promises an interesting storyline with lashings of bushranger folklore and Australian history. However, the flow of the novel was somewhat impeded by the writing. It never really absorbed my attention, although I did enjoy the landscapes in which the story is set.

    Many thanks to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Wood for the Trees.

    1. I was intrigued by Wood for the Trees and the concept of a modern day Bushranger in this debut novel by Ian Belshaw .
      Luke has been fascinated with Bushrangers since he was a child. He decides that he wants to see what being a modern day Bushranger is really like despite his own good moral compass. Of course the law eventually gets involved. This was an interesting read but the language and writing at times became a bit overwhelming which could put off some readers.
      Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Shawline Publishing for my review copy.

  16. Honestly, I struggled to get into this book, I think perhaps it needs to move faster at the start because it just didn’t do it for me, I had to pick it up several times and couldn’t get into it, sorry!

  17. Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this suspense novel based on Australian Bush rangers.

    I was extremely fascinated by the storyline at the start and was wondering what would make someone do that but I have to say even though the characters were strong I didn’t particularly liked the style of writting.
    It was a bit of struggle to finish the book but can’t just leave a book unread. I also found that there was no proper conclusion to this story, I was expecting more to the story.

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