Summer Harvest, by Georgina Penney

Book Cover:  Summer HarvestShe wasn’t sure what had contributed to her idiocy the most. It was a toss-up between her completely rational and reasonable fear of creepy-crawlies and the winded feeling she’d experienced on catching sight of the rural god who came to her rescue. His face had looked like something someone had carved out of granite with a blunt knife. He’d been all broad planes, deep grooved lines, high cheekbones and a slightly off-centre, once-broken nose. She’d caught him studying her with a set of thickly lashed, deep brown eyes that were disconcertingly pretty in contrast with the rest of him. She had experienced genuine heart palpitations

When Beth Poole, on holiday from England, first meets handsome Clayton Hardy, there is an instant, mutual attraction. Clayton has come to her rescue on the side of a rural road, and it turns out he runs the property adjoining the one she will be staying on for the next two months. Beth is divorced and Clayton is single, so there is nothing stopping them getting together: except her self-consciousness, his fear of getting hurt, and the secret she’s keeping from him.

Summer Harvest is a moving romance story featuring two strong, yet emotionally fragile people, as well as an interesting supporting cast. Clayton’s family is large and there are several other romances and family dramas happening, while Beth’s family, back in England, consists of her slightly crazy, soapie-obsessed gran, Violet, and her second husband Lionel, who also feature strongly.

For all the romance, drama and humour, there is also a serious side to the story, as it explores issues of cancer, its treatment and aftermath. Beth is a breast cancer survivor, and Clayton’s mum died from leukaemia when he was younger, the effects of both events on the two families are far-reaching.

From the author of Fly-In, Fly-Out and with overlapping characters, Summer Harvest will appeal to lovers of romance and family dramas.

Summer Harvest, by Georgina Penney
Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin, 2016
ISBN 9780143797081

The Break, by Deb Fitzpatrick

‘…You mean live there?’
The woman next door was clattering about in her garden, shushing the dog when it barked.
‘Well…’ He struggled to get it into his head. ‘Why would we do that, exactly?’…
‘To be our own people,’ she eventually managed, in a whisper.
‘Instead of…’ And he was quiet for a moment. ‘Being other people’s people,’ he said finally.

Rosie can’t be a journalist if it involves chasing ambulances and looking for shock value. Cray has had enough of the fly in fly out lifestyle, especially when it means long stretches away from home. When they throw in their jobs, they decide to make a change, and head down to Margaret River, a place they’ve always loved. But starting again in a place that’s facing challenges of its own might not be all plain sailing.

Fergus and Liza have always lived in Margies, and Fergus runs the farm which his father built up. Their son Sam loves life – watching stars, fishing and swimming in the river, and following his favourite sci-fi serial on the computer his much loved uncle gave him. The only thing he doesn’t like is when his parents fight. Lately they’ve been arguing more, especially about Uncle Mike.

Rosie gets to know Liza and Sam, through their common concern of the effects a big development will have on their favourite piece of coastline. Development, though, proves the least of their worries, when the coastline itself proves a natural enemy.

The Break is a heart-wrenching novel about family, community, loss and change, set in the South West of Western Australia in the 1990s. Though there are parallels with real events,including the Gracetown Cliff Collapse in 1996, this is a work of fiction, allowing readers into the lives of deftly drawn characters and allowing readers to consider one version of how such an event might impact individuals and a community. Fitzpatrick does this with a special touch.

This is Fitzpatrick’s first novel for adults, but would also be suitable for young adult readers.


The Break, by Deb Fitzpatrick
Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN 9781922089632

Available from good bookstores and online.

In the Company of Strangers, by Liz Byrski

Ruby stares at the letter and wonders why she isn’t crying, why the threat of that first sob has dissipated, why not a single tear is sliding down her cheek. It contains too much, she thinks, too much of her past, too many complex and conflicting emotions; it’s an ending which both robs and liberates.

When Ruby hears that her lifelong friend Cat has died and left her a controlling interest in a lavender farm in Australia, her emotions are mixed. Her relationship with Cat stretches back sixty years when they travelled together as orphans unwillingly sent to Australia. Together they survived the difficult years that followed, but in adulthood they became estranged. Now Ruby knows she has left it too late to visit Cat one more time.

Declan, too, has not spent as much time with Cat as he should have. Her nephew by marriage, he has spent much of his life drifting, but his share of Benson’s Reach brings him back to the place he loved as a child. His friend Alice also needs refuge, so Declan invites her to the farm, too.

Declan and Ruby are just two of the group of relative strangers who find themselves forming a kind of family as they work together to revitalise Benson’s Reach and follow Cat’s dreams. Each has ghosts to confront and must struggle to find peace, but perhaps they have more chance of doing so together than individually.

In the Company of Strangers is a moving tale of friendship old and new, exploring issues of forgiveness and self discovery. Set on a fictional tourist development int he South West of Western Australia, the novel focuses on characters from diverse backgrounds, allowing the reader to get to know each intimately. There are also mysteries and an exploration of the history and impact of the Child Migrant Scheme between the UK and Australia during World War II.

One of Byrski’s strength is in her ability create well rounded and interesting mature female characters, which she does here as well as previously, but the male characters also shine, and every character has layers which are gradually unwrapped as the tale progresses, keeping the reader surprised.

A satisfying tale.

In the Company of Strangers

In the Company of Strangers, by Liz Byrski
ISBN 9781742611297

Available from good bookstores or online.