2016 Reviews · Australian · Uncategorized

Book review: Out of Alice by Kerry McGinnis

out of alice

Book blurb: From the bestselling author of Pieces of Blue and Wildhorse Creek comes an evocative and heartfelt story about how in the remotest of places lives can be lost…and found.

When Sara Blake takes up a position as governess on Redhill Station in Central Australia, she isn’t expecting to encounter a family in crisis, or to uncover a tragedy of her own.

With the owners’ son critically ill, Sara is called upon to take care of their young daughter. As the family struggles to make a living from the drought-stricken land, everyone pitches in – and Sara finds herself letting people in to the empty spaces in her heart.

But the longer she spends out bush, the more she becomes plagued by elusive visions of her dark and troubled childhood. The fragments of memory lead her deep into the red centre of Australia, where at picturesque Kings Canyon she must confront the horrifying secrets of her past.

4 stars

Living and working on Australia’s harsh and unforgiving outback land, at the mercy of the elements, has provided Kerry McGinnis with the skills set to produce authentic rural stories. Out of Alice is another fantastic rural based fiction offering from Aussie author Kerry McGinnis.

Out of Alice is the story of a determined young woman named Sara Blake, who trades in her going-nowhere life in the city, for a fresh start in the outback as a governess. Out of Alice is also the story of a family doing it tough on the land, struggling to make ends meet as the drought continues to wreck havoc on their land and lives. The family face further adversity when one of their children undergoes treatment for cancer. As Sara supports the family as best she can, her life begins to change when an opportunity to indulge in a new romance arises. However, Sara is also forced to confront painful memories from the past, triggered by her move to the Alice.

Kerry McGinnis had me gripped simply by her choice of book title, I knew I was going to be in for a cracking read and McGinnis certainly did not disappoint. I would dearly love to visit the Alice and Australia’s central region in general, especially after reading this book. I felt even more determined in my quest to get to this part of Australia once I finished Out of Alice. McGinnis draws on firsthand experience to inform her novel and storyline. Out of Alice contains a number of themes from drought, financial struggles, land issues, health, family secrets, self discovery and romance, to a touch of outback mystery. Each of these themes are fleshed out by McGinnis, so the end result is a highly readable and realistic picture of life in the red centre. To read a Kerry McGinnis novel is always a pure visual spectacle, her passion and understanding of her setting, rural Australia, is undeniable. I lapped up each and every setting description in the novel. Characters are also strength in this novel and Sara Blake is a great female protagonist. Her very personal journey is heartfelt and I admired her kind hearted nature. Adding a sense of mystery around this character and the memories she must unlock was a wise choice by McGinnis, as it gave me further incentive to read on. The gentle romance that lingers in the background of Out of Alice rounds up this novel perfectly. I am sure readers are bound to appreciate McGinnis’ ability to balance a remote landscape and memorable characters with an interesting plotline.

Out of Alice marks the fourth novel I have read my Kerry McGinnis and I can whole heartedly say I have enjoyed each and every one.

Out of Alice was released in 2016 by Penguin Australia.

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