Title: Return to Roseglen
Author: Helene Young
Published: July 2nd 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
At times like these families should be coming together, not tearing each other apart.
On her remote North Queensland cattle station, Ivy Dunmore is facing the end of her days. Increasingly frail, all she holds dear is threatened not just by crippling drought, but by jealousy and greed – and that’s from within her own family.
Can Felicity, who’s battling her own crisis as her fiftieth birthday approaches, protect her mother and reunite her family under the homestead’s faded iron roof? Or will sibling rivalries erupt and long-held secrets from the past break a family in crisis?
Helene Young is a multi award winning author for the Australian romantic suspense genre. I know I am one of a huge crowd of followers who have been eagerly awaiting her new novel, Return to Roseglen. The wait is now over and Young has blessed her readers with a wonderful new novel. Return to Roseglen is a contemporary family drama crossed with life lit novel, based in rural Australia that takes Helene Young’s writing to new heights.
Return to Roseglen sees elderly protagonist, Ivy Dunmore at the centre of the action in the latest novel penned by Helene Young. Based around a North Queensland cattle station, this moving story details the sense of entitlement, greed, jealously and underhanded actions of a farming family dealing with the impact of drought. Ivy, the family’s matriarch, knows her time is limited. But before she leaves she is compelled to settle the state of affairs that currently define her beloved home. As the problems of the family unfold, we discover how each of Ivy’s children and grandchildren are battling their own personal issues. What ensues is a family unit defined by entrenched secrets, rivalries, bitterness and estrangement. Can this fractured family put aside their differences and support one another when the time comes?
In her acknowledgements section, the author of Return to Roseglen, Helene Young, starts off by thanking her audience for reading her new book. She also takes the time to stress that her latest book has had a long birthing period and thanks us for our patience. It seems like a significant period of time has passed since we last had a Helene Young book, but boy it was worth the wait! So I am going to extend my thanks to Helene Young for weathering the tough times, for her perseverance and for a job well done. It is a joy to watch an author grow and take flight in a different direction.
Recently I have read at least two new release books that places an older female protagonist at the head of the book’s proceedings. It is pleasing to see mature women put in the spotlight and this extends to Helene Young’s new novel. By placing Ivy Dunmore, the main elderly protagonist at the front and centre of Return to Roseglen, we are able to see life from the eyes of a wise and mature woman who has truly lived life. Young does a very good job of getting inside both the heart and mind of her primary protagonist, Ivy Dunmore. Young successfully embodies Ivy’s spirit, as well as her central concerns. Young’s well shaped characterisation can also be witnessed in the representation of her secondary cast. I soon had a firm handle on Ivy’s offspring. Young also creates a good balance between her heroes and villains in Return to Roseglen.
By placing an elderly figure at the core of the book’s proceedings, Young has been able to explore a plethora of themes related to mature aged personalities. Young illuminates issues of elderly mistreatment, the feelings associated with a loss of independence, captures the powerlessness, and she illuminates the struggle of succession/wills, estranged relationships, second chance romances and finally, she touches on menopause. Young also uses the central concept of this novel to explore issues such as family conflicts, the bonds of family, loyalty, respect and the inner strength, particularly of women, to make things right. This is a full narrative and the issues of contention ensured that my eyes never strayed from the pages of this novel, until I was satisfied that I had reached the end.
Followers of Helene’s Young previous work will know that she is incredibly adept in expressing the natural beauty of Far North Queensland to her audience. Return to Roseglen is no exception to the rule. I consumed Young’s descriptions of the family cattle station featured in Return to Roseglen and the surrounds. I also lapped up the descriptions of the tablelands region, the mountains, caves and hidden lakes that define this sacred region. I just hope one day I can experience the beauty of this region in person, after reading Young’s lavish setting descriptions.
Return to Roseglen stepped up a notch for me in the latter moments of the novel. After needing a few tissues in some sad scenes, my attentions were quickly diverted to a letter, written in 1960. This letter plays an integral part in the novel, shifting the events to come and the moving the characters in a different direction. It also shines a light on the past, particularly the impact of war and PTSD, which ultimately informs the present. I loved this late addition!
I am issued now with quite the dilemma. While I absolutely love Helene Young’s romantic suspense novels (I have read all of them) I rate her new novel, Return to Roseglen, and the direction it took, very highly indeed. I do hope we see more novels penned by Helene Young of this life lit flavour and just maybe, we will continue to see the romantic suspense novels alternated with this new family focussed style. Bravo Helene!
Return to Roseglen by Helene Young was published on 2nd July 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Return to Roseglen, Helene Young visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Return to Roseglen, is book #75 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge