2017 Reviews · Australian · rural ficition · saga

Book Review: A Distant Journey by Di Morrissey

Title: A Distant Journeydistant-j

Author: Di Morrissey

Published: October 25th 2016

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 361

Genres: Fiction, Australian

RRP: $34.99

Rating: 4 stars

In 1962 Cindy drops out of college to impulsively marry an Australian grazier, moving from the glamorous world of Palm Springs, California, to an isolated sheep station on the sweeping plains of the Riverina in New South Wales.

Cindy’s new life at Kingsley Downs station is not what she’d imagined as she is flung into a strange and challenging world. Natural disasters and the caprices of the wool industry shape her destiny and though she tries hard to fit in, she finds she is always the outsider.

Adjusting to her new life, Cindy discovers that her new family comes with secrets and a mystery that haunts them all. When Cindy uncovers the shocking truth, the consequences lead to tragedy and Cindy must fight to save her family.

My review:

Celebrated Australian storyteller Di Morrissey is back with her usual Christmas release, a new novel titled A Distant Journey. In her twenty fifth year of writing novels, A Distant Journey is a novel that harks back to where Morrissey’s writing career began. It is not too dissimilar to Morrissey’s first novel, Heart of the Dreaming. Both novels are examples of great outback sagas.

A Distant Journey begins in the 1960’s, in the picturesque Palm Springs, California. The reader is first introduced to Babs, a woman with a young child named Joey, who is starting anew after a bad marriage. Soon after Babs settles into her new home in the glamorous Palm Springs, her niece Cindy lands on her doorstop. Cindy becomes the pivotal character in A Distant Journey, as the novels shifts away from Babs and onto Cindy’s important pathway. Cindy is a college student when she engages in a holiday romance with a handsome Australian man, Murray Parnell. This fling comes directly after a heartbreaking split from Cindy’s first love, Robbie. Lust soon becomes true love; leading Murray and Cindy impulsively marry in Vegas. It isn’t long before the happy couple jet off to the other side of the world, to Murray’s home in Australia. Cindy learns upon her arrival in Australia that Murray is the heir to a huge grazing empire. Cindy finds she must adjust immediately to life in rural Australia and negotiate a convoluted relationship with her father- in-law, Lawerence. Cindy is a woman determined to prove her father- in- law wrong and she soon makes a go of her life in her new home of Kingsley Downs. Cindy is also determined to get to the bottom of a family secret held by Lawerence, over the mysterious disappearance of his wife Rose, many years ago. Decades go by and the Parnell’s witness the happy expansion of their family. They also suffer from a number of disasters that threaten Kingsley Downs over the years, before the mystery of Rose is truly solved.

Di Morrissey is an author I always look forward to purchasing her annual release. A Distant Journey is another solid effort by Morrissey and I found it a highly entertaining read, from cover to cover. Morrissey’s books usually revolve around the land and her newest novel is no exception to the rule. The land plays a significant role in A Distant Journey. The book is set in rural NSW, based specifically in the Riverina Plains region. It is not an area I am familiar with, but nonetheless, Morrissey’s setting descriptions took me to the heart of this region. I felt the pure isolation, as well as the natural beauty of this region. The property where Cindy and Murray live, Kingsley Downs, is described in picture perfect detail. I could imagine myself setting foot on this sprawling rural home. Morrissey also draws the reader’s attention to the dangers of living in these beautiful areas. Over the decades, the Parnells must tackle natural disasters such as drought, severe bushfire and contend with property finance issues, such as fluctuating wool prices. These sections of the novel offer the reader a compelling journey into true life, at the mercy of the outback.

Cindy, the heroine of A Distant Journey, is the type of character you want to succeed. I really enjoyed her brave journey from an American college student, to an outback wife. It was a hard transition as Morrissey highlights but Cindy makes a success of it. Through Cindy, we learn the triumphs as well as the tragedies that befall Cindy and Murray as a couple living on an isolated rural property. Cindy is also a character with a dogged determination to get to the bottom of the truth. Eventually, after years of digging, Cindy resolves the central mystery of Rose, Murray’s mother’s disappearance. I have to admit I had my inclinations as to Rose’s true fate, which was confirmed near the ending of this novel. Despite the predictability of the novel, my interest in this rural saga was high.

A Distant Journey is another fine novel from Australia’s queen of storytelling, Di Morrissey.

A Distant Journey by Di Morrissey was published in October 2016 by Pan Macmillan Australia.

 

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