Beneath the Bloodwood Tree, by Julienne van Loon

Now she listens, perhaps unwisely, to a prickling beneath her skin. It’s a sensation she hasn’t felt since she was a child. There’s some kind of presence in the air, something intangible.

Pia Ricci has come to Port Hedland to escape her past and rediscover the town of her youth. Running a busy dental practice should be enough to keep her busy, and free of attachments. But then Pia discovers a bundle of money and men’s clothing buried near a bloodwood tree outside town, and her life starts to change.

Joachim, too, has come to Port Hedland to escape his own past. A nurse, he wants to leave behind his mother’s death, but one of his patients forces him to revisit his mother’s illness. Joachim and Pia feel an immediate attraction, but as they engage they each struggle with the changes around them and with the ghosts of their pasts.

Beneath the Bloodwood Tree is a passionate story of life, death and betrayal. Set in the brooding, dusty north of Western Australia, the novel takes a hold of the reader, dragging him or her through the physical and emotional landscape peopled by the characters.

Author Julienne van Loon’s debut novel Road Story won the 2004 Vogel Award. This, her second novel, continues her development as a writer of absorbing, yet challenging reads.

Beneath the Bloodwood Tree

Beneath the Bloodwood Tree, by Julienne van Loon
Allen & Unwin, 2008

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Road Story, by Julienne van Loon

Diana Kooper is running. She is looking straight ahead through the warm rain, all silvery in the fluorescent streetlight. The footpath beneath her is so shiny and black it could be liquid.

When Diana Kooper crashes her car, she flees the scene, leaving her best friend slumped and bloodied in the passenger seat. She jumps on a train out of Sydney, then a bus and eventually finds herself at an isolated truck-stop, where she lands a job as a kitchen hand. Here she struggles to forget her past, not knowing whether her friend has lived or died.

Life at the truck-stop is not easy, either. The owner, Bob, has a gambling problem which has landed him in hot water. When his dog is brutally stabbed to death and then Bob rolls his ute, Diana knows that trouble is brewing.

The winner of the 2004 Vogel Literary Award, Road Story is a haunting tale of youth, relationships and addiction. One of the most effective parts of the story is that the author has chosen to focus on the way other people’s addictions impact on the main character.


Road Story, by Julienne van Loon
Allen & Unwin, 2005