For three generations of Australian women, becoming a grazier’s wife has meant very different things.
For Stella in 1946, it was a compromise in the aftermath of a terrible war.
For Jackie in the 1970s, it was a Cinderella fairytale with an outback prince.
While for Alice in 2015, it is the promise of a bright new future.
Decades earlier, Stella was desperate to right a huge injustice, but now a long-held family secret threatens to tear the Drummond family of Ruthven Downs apart. On the eve of a special birthday reunion, with half the district invited, the past and the present collide, passions are unleashed and the shocking truth comes spilling out.
From glamorous pre-war Singapore to a vast cattle property in Queensland’s Far North, this sweeping, emotional saga tests the beliefs and hopes of three strong women as they learn how to hold on to loved ones and when to let go.
The Grazier’s Wife by Barbara Hannay is another stellar read from an Aussie author who consistently delivers memorable stories. I love multi-generational focussed novels and The Grazier’s Wife is a beautiful book filled with secrets, love, passion and heart breaking decisions.
The discovery of a lost letter hidden behind a family heirloom, a sideboard in the present day, is the catalyst for the unearthing of life changing events from the past for the Drummond family. The current day grazier’s wife, Jackie Drummond, comes across these startling letters which were written by her now deceased mother in law. Jackie quickly realises the content of the letters have to power to disinherit Jackie’s husband Magnus. Jackie must wrestle with the decision to reveal this new information to Magnus, or to keep the secrets of the letters locked away in the past. Meanwhile, Stella’s offspring, her grandson Seth Drummond who works hard at Ruthven Downs, is dealt with a life changing blow. Out of the blue, a love interest from the past returns to Seth, revealing a shocking secret. Interspersed with the present day Drummond family’s lives, is an exploration of the past grazier’s wife’s life, Stella Drummond. Through letters and journal entries, the reader learns about Stella’s colourful life serving as a nurse in Singapore during the war. Stella’s legacy and her time spent in Singapore, holds the key to a major family decision that must be made by the current Drummond clan occupying Ruthven Downs.
Barbara Hannay is an author who I can always trust implicitly to weave a wonderful tale of family, secrets and love, all wrapped up in a fantastic rural setting. The Grazier’s Wife once again proves Hannay’s ability to spin a lovely Australian yarn. The opening scene in The Grazier’s Wife serves to pull the reader into the ensuring story. I was immediately drawn into Stella’s plight, right from the very start. Likewise, Stella’s offspring in the present day, are just as compelling, as they have their own secrets that come to light as the book progresses. Hannay handles the secrets side of this novel well, feeding the reader just the right amount to compel the reader to continue to stay loyal to the story until the end. Hannay has selected her characters perfectly for her latest novel. I enjoyed Stella’s story the most, especially the parts set in Singapore during the war. In fact, it is safe to say, I wanted more from these parts as I adored this story thread so much. Stella’s addictive story is backed up by a number of interesting threads, involving the present day Drummonds. Seth and his love interest Alice’s story was emotional, heartbreaking and compelling. Alice is a complicated character and I welcomed the opportunity to unpack this protagonist’s issues. Seth is a great leading man, who is admirable in the action he takes. Other supporting players, such as Seth’s sister Flora and Deborah, Hugh’s sister, also add further layers to this expansive story. What I appreciated about The Grazier’s Wife, was the movement in setting. Hannay shifts the sense of place in her novel seamlessly. The reader is taken on a journey to Singapore with Stella, through to post war country Australia through to the present day rural setting with ease. No matter where the location, it is easy for the reader to imagine the vivid setting detail. I put this down to Hannay’s descriptive prose. The conclusion to The Grazier’s Wife was satisfying, with the ends tied up very neatly. There was also a heartwarming addition to Stella’s story that came at the end of the novel. I will admit these scenes did reduce me to tears.
The Grazier’s Wife is an affective novel, that captured my heart from the beginning, to the close of the story. As with all Barbara Hannay’s novels, I cannot recommend this author enough. The Grazier’s Wife is a stunning story, filled with secrets from the past, a family battle and an endearing love story that stands the test of time. I definitely recommend The Grazier’s Wife to all readers.