Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!
From the spectacular beauty of Victoria’s lush western districts comes this deeply emotional story of grief, courage and love.
When shy farmer Tristan Blake is given free rein to manage iconic local property Rainbow, he soon finds himself living his dream. Even more so once the farm’s dark-haired artist owner April Tremayne arrives. April is mysterious and slightly wild, with an air of tragedy, and Tristan is captivated. The more involved he becomes with April and her eccentric projects, the harder he falls for her. April might believe the price of love is pain, but Tristan vows that is one thing she’ll never experience with him.
But even the sweetest dream can turn dark. April is haunted by the very heartbreak she’d come to Rainbow to heal, and as her demons tighten their grip, Tristan is torn between keeping his promise or betraying the woman he loves. And the risk of either choice is losing her forever.
I rarely delve into the pages of a novella, but I make the exception for one of my favourite rural romance novelists, Cathryn Hein. I am so glad I gave April’s Rainbow a chance. I was rewarded with a tale that is both a beautiful love story and a heartbreaking story of immense grief. It roused a number of mixed emotions in me. It made me laugh, smile and shed a tear for the female lead, April.
April’s Rainbow takes the reader to the picturesque surrounds of Victoria’s western districts. This tale, penned in 2016 and self published by Hein, revolves around a rural property called Rainbow. The lives of two very different but lonely souls collide when April Tremayne hires Tristan Blake to manage the property she has purchased. Tristan is an incredibly shy young man but farming is his business. He soon settles into managing Rainbow and before long he falls head of heels in love with property owner April. However, beautiful and eccentric, April has her own very personal demons she is trying to combat. April’s purchase of Rainbow is one of the ways in which she is hoping to heal from her overwhelming grief. As a tortured but very talented artist, April draws Tristan into her strange world, where she concocts many unusual art projects, all dedicated to the person she lost. The more Tristan helps April in her escalating art designs, he finds she is spiralling further into a dark abyss. Tristan faces an impossible choice, should he break the promise he was issued with once he set foot on Rainbow? Will Tristan lose any chance of future happiness with the only woman he has ever loved?
I had to do a double take when I first started reading April’s Rainbow. I am so used to my rural romance novels being narrated by a central female protagonist. I was completely taken aback when I discovered April’s Rainbow is narrated solely from the point of view of the hero of the story, farmer Tristan Blake. It is an easy assumption to make as generally, books of the genre April’s Rainbow falls into rarely slot in a male perspective at the helm of the story. What a refreshing move. I really enjoyed the experience of understanding a love story from a male’s point of view.
Although April’s Rainbow is a novella, sitting at just 180 pages, it does pack an emotional punch. Do not dismiss this strong rural romance. It has as much weight as any full length book from this popular genre. There is plenty of character development, a full storyline, an array of vivid setting descriptors and an excellent examination of the main themes of this story. All these elements work together to ensure the reader is fully engaged. Do not let the length of April’s Rainbow deceive you, it is a weighty tale that will linger long after the final page has been turned.
I have commented before on the author, Cathryn Hein’s ability to deliver a solid romance story to her readers and April’s Rainbow is no exception. Hein is also very adept in pairing up her leads perfectly. Tristan and April are completely different souls, but somehow when they collide, you cannot imagine them with anyone else! I loved how Hein chose to draw out the flaws, insecurities, talents and unique quirks of these two individuals. It allows the reader to see Tristan and April as strong identities. As the story progresses we witness their highs, lows, triumphs and pitfalls. I think I experienced every emotion during this book!
What I was able to draw from April’s Rainbow was a little more about the process of grief. I cannot fathom being placed in April’s shoes, her situation is truly heart wrenching. The light that Tristan shines in her life and the escape of her art was a joy. I appreciated the insight into someone suffering from a grave mental illness. The art sequences were a breath of fresh air. I loved how these played out and could very easily visualise these quirky art arrangements being staged in a country area in my own state, or any state across Australia. What ingenuity!
It was a true pleasure to spend an evening with the endearing character set that hail from the Victorian country base. Although April’s Rainbow does present a sweet veneer of romance, underneath the layers of this novella lies a story that puts the spotlight on the process of grief and our treatment of mental illness. Hein approaches these themes with sensitivity and insight. I was holding onto the final moments of this novella and was pleased with the way it all panned out.
So all in all, April’s Rainbow to me was a book full of emotion, heart, true love, loyalty and devotion, told with passion. April’s Rainbow is another wonderful rural tale from the great Cathryn Hein.
April’s Rainbow by Cathryn Hein was self published in 2016. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of April’s Rainbow, Cathryn Hein, visit here.
*I wish to thank the author, Cathryn Hein, for providing me with a free copy of this novella for review purposes.
April’s Rainbow is book #35 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
*Book ‘h’ of the a-z author challenge 2018