2017 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · rural fiction

Book Review: Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant

Title: Ridgeview Stationridegview station small

Author:  Michael Trant

Published: June 28th 2017

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 336

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Rural, Australian

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

A vast outback property. An unforgettable season. A family’s fight to save their livelihood. A sweeping tale of love and loss, and the highs and lows of life on the land, from an utterly authentic new voice in rural fiction.
The debut novel by Michael Trant.

Many of Peter and Kelsie Dalton’s friends thought they were crazy when they bought Ridgeview Station. But five years on, their hard work, help from Kelsie’s parents, and record rainfall have them in high spirits as the summer muster approaches.

Realising they’re going to need more help this season, Peter rings around the neighbouring stations to try and find a good worker. After a glowing recommendation, Alexi arrives to give them a hand – and is not at all what they’d expected …
Everything is going smoothly with the muster before disaster strikes and the Dalton’s find themselves battling to save their livestock, their property and their lives.

An entertaining yarn set on a vast outback property peopled with colourful and authentic characters, Ridgeview Station is about love, loss and the spirit of the bush.

My review:

An appreciation of the hard yakka that goes into farming in our vast outback is at the soul of debut rural fiction author Michael Trant’s novel, Ridgeview Station. It is an incredible yarn, weaving a tale of love, loss, gains and pure grit that goes into keeping the sprawling property of Ridgeview Station out of trouble for a family and their loyal workers.

When Ridgeview Station first opens, we learn that married couple Peter and Kelsie Dalton traded their thriving coastal farm for a vast outback based station five years ago. Turning this struggling outback property into a profitable piece of land has not been easy but the couple are confident that the current season will return their best results yet. With more cattle than ever to deal with and an upcoming muster to contend with, Peter and Kelsie approach their neighbours for some much needed assistance. Their neighbours offer to send in their respected rouseabout, Alexi, to assist with this important muster. When Alexi arrives at Ridgeview, it comes as a surprise, especially to the workers of the station but this newcomer soon settles into the busy way of life at Ridgeview. When the all important muster kicks off, it seems to be going smoothly and the Dalton family begin to see that soon they will be able to reap the rewards of their five years of hard work. However, mother nature has other plans for Ridgeview and it isn’t long before their livelihood, property and assets all come under threat from the turn of events. Ridgeview Station is a cracking Australian story that demonstrates the strength of the bush spirit.

I was thrilled to be approached by the author of Ridgeview Station, West Aussie Michael Trant, to review his first novel. Those who know my reading tastes are quite aware of the fact that I am a huge fan of Australian rural fiction and I will champion this genre to anyone who will listen. Therefore, when Ridgeview Station came to my possession, I couldn’t wait to get started on this book and I was more than impressed with Michael Trant’s debut offering.

Part of the appeal of Ridgeview Station is the obvious line of authenticity that runs through the veins of this novel. When I read a little about the author of Ridgeview Station, Michael Trant, it actually did not surprise me at all that Michael has many years of experience working on the land. As soon as you begin Ridgeview Station, the sense of realism is blindingly obvious. From my reading Ridgeview Station, I gleaned a thing or two about running a station and developed a new understanding of the perils of mother nature in determining the success of a vast property. The situations, characters and everyday life situations that crop up in this novel are clearly drawn from first hand experience. Trant is a capable author, who is able to spin a cracking yarn from his wealth of knowledge gleaned from his experiences in the bush.

Trant knows a thing or two about characterisation. I immediately warmed to couple Peter and Kelsie Dalton, along with Kelsie’s parents, who I quickly had fingers, toes and everything else crossed for them that Ridgeview would finally make a triumphant return in the muster. Along with the Dalton clan, there are a great band of supporting characters that form the very fabric of this tale. From likeable rogue Bull, to leading hands Ash and Larry, to newcomer Alexi, each contributes equally to the unfolding plot. Trant’s protagonists feel as if they have been modelled on real life figures he has come into contact with during his farming career, which makes the Ridgeview character set all the more authentic. Supporting the human cast in Ridgeview Station are an unforgettable crew of working dogs, who add further flair to this outback tale. Trant also had me reaching for the tissues in this particular narrative thread involving the hard working dogs of Ridgeview.

In terms of the plot in Ridgeview Station, I found myself thoroughly entertained from cover to cover by Trant’s first novel. I was also pleased with the closure offered by this novel, it seemed very plausible and I found myself satisfied with the final turn of events. Upon reflection of my reading of Ridgeview Station, I found that Trant has an easy going, almost conversational writing style, which I connected with early on in the piece. Trant knows when it is the perfect time to change tact and inject his novel with a mixture of emotion, love and tension. There is a strong sense of passion in Trant’s writing which transfers to his characters, setting and storyline. This is a writer who clearly enjoys his craft and is able to pass on this affection to his readership.

My experience with Ridgeview Station was overwhelmingly positive. Ridgeview Station is a fine addition to the rural fiction genre, providing the reader with a sensational silhouette of life on a typical outback station. It comes complete with the highs, as well as lows, of life on the land and these culminate to yield a memorable outback tale that I must rate no less than five full stars.

Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant was published on June 28th 2017 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Ridgeview Station, Michael Trant visit here.

*I wish to thank the author, Michael Trant, for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant

  1. Very nice review, Amanda! I’m so glad now that I borrowed this from the library and later this arvo will start reading it even though I have a book I need to finish and a book club one I need to start but your review will have me abandoning those books for a little while, or at least until I’ve read some chapters of Ridgeview Station.

    I, like you also love the rural fiction genre, can’t get enough of it. It’s been seven years since I was acquainted with this genre all thanks to Fleur McDonald’s article in the magazine Take 5 introducing her debut novel Red Dust. I have a list of pretty much every rural fiction author out there and now Michael Trant will be added to this list.


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