#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · romance

Book Review: A Place To Remember by Jenn J. McLeod

Title: A Place To Remembera place to remember small

Author: Jenn J. McLeod

Published: March 19th 2018

Publisher: Harper Collins Books Australia (Head of Zeus  –  GB)

Pages: 452

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Romance

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

A multi-generational contemporary romantic saga set in a cattle ranch in Central Queensland, Australia.

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember. Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect, until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate. The young fifth-generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents. Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

My review:

One of Australia’s most valued storytellers is back for her fifth novel, A Place To Remember. This stunning and richly Australian family saga encompasses the trials and tribulations of four generations of a family based in Northern Queensland. Jenn J. McLeod poses a thoughtful question to her readers on the front cover of the book, can you ever reignite a lost love? A Place To Remember will implore you to consider rekindled love, memories, betrayal, lies, missed opportunities and courage, all within the one involving storyline.

A Place To Remember introduces the reader to an unusual scenario. John Tate is a man who lost five years of his life. There are two figures who would like nothing more than for John to recover these lost memories, but this task is not easy. Thirty years ago, twenty seven year old Ava ran away from her life and took on a position as a cook at a country based B & B. Ava falls hard for the owner’s son, John. Their affair is intense but is marred by the objections of John’s controlling parents. Fast forward thirty years later and Ava has decided to make the heartbreaking journey back to Candlebark Creek, with her free spirited daughter Nina in tow. Nina is desperate to uncover her mother’s story of lost love while at the same time, trying to find out where she belongs. When Nina discovers a rumour about an unclaimed engagement ring and a man who never got to propose to the love of his life, the truth to this tale might be closer than Nina realises.

Welcome back Jenn J. McLeod, oh how I have missed you! I have found a deep connection to McLeod’s writing since I read her debut, A House for All Seasons, around five years ago now. Since then, I have enjoyed each and every Jenn J. McLeod book I have picked up. McLeod is one of those Australian writers that has a natural gift for storytelling, it’s in her heart and soul. A Place To Remember is a family saga with a great underlying mystery and some flooring twists that showcases McLeod’s talent as a gifted writer. There is no doubt at all that McLeod makes us feel and care about her memorable character set.

The gorgeous book that I held in my hands has been quite the labour of love for Jenn J. McLeod. Working closely with Rosie de Courcy, who has edited none other than Maeve Binchy’s books for years, along with Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, has put A Place To Remember in good stead. It has also been championed by Amanda Ridout, another author I respect greatly, so it comes as no surprise that I found A Place To Remember a beautiful novel inside and out. Readers will find the storyline flows and the transitions from the mid 1980’s based narrative to the present day were perfectly in touch with one another. The movement in character perspectives as the novel progresses also gives us a great insight into the unfolding storyline. A solid mystery element to this novel, based around recovered memories, rounds off A Place To Remember.

One of the standout features of A Place To Remember, aside from the compelling narrative, is the authentic setting. Jenn J. McLeod has a gift for being able to move her reader to her rich settings. In A Place to Remember’s case, we are transported to a rural property in Northern Queensland. Candlebark Creek was presented in such crystal clear fashion, that it is almost unfathomable to contemplate that this place is simply fictional! I am certain the audience will feel the same about the full bodied landscape and country based descriptions that define this novel.

Characters are McLeod’s forte and she excels in this area of her new novel. I found Ava in the present day and in the past to be perfectly observed. John Tate was much the same, the lifeblood runs through this man in both time zones. McLeod paints her character set with gentle and precise brushstrokes so the final product is nothing short of amazing, a true masterpiece in characterisation. This extends to the secondary character cast, from Katie, to Blair, to Marjorie and Nina. All have a place to bear in the overall direction of this engaging novel.

There are so many resonating themes that can be drawn from A Place To Remember. I loved the umbrella theme of memory, which is connected to the lost love focus of the novel. McLeod also draws our attention to ageing, health, betrayal, long held secrets and self realisation. Each and every one of these themes made me dig deep and pull out a set of wild emotions that interchanged between love, hate, sadness, regret, happiness and finally –  a sense of peace. A feeling of accomplishment washed over me as I reached the final moments of this novel, that all was put right in a world I had grown to care so much about.

A Place To Remember marks a triumphant and brave return to the publishing scene for my favourite travelling writer Jenn J. McLeod. This is one book hands down, I am going to endorse to all readers, far and wide, you must read this book!

A Place To Remember by Jenn J. McLeod was published on 19th March 2018 by Harper Collins Books Australia (Head of Zeus -GB). Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of A Place To Remember, Jenn J. McLeod visit here.

*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

A Place To Remember is book #63 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

 

 

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