Title: Home To Turtle Bay
Author: Marion Lennox
Published: November 19th 2018
Publisher: Harlequin – Mira AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
A warm and witty multi-generational romantic comedy, set in a coastal Australian farming community, from international bestselling romance author Marion Lennox.
Dr Jennifer Kelly has reached the pinnacle of her career as a successful Manhattan obstetrician, complete with ambitious, blue–blooded fiancé. After a desolate childhood with a distant grandmother, life seems everything she’s ever wanted.
When a grandfather she’s never heard of leaves her a dairy farm on an isolated Australian island – plus one depressed dog, thirty geriatric cows and a bunch of ancient surfboards – she plans a quick trip to put the farm up for sale. Her aloof, socialite grandmother Muriel is appalled, yet insists on accompanying her.
Once there, Jenny finds herself caught, by cows, by turtles – and by Jack McLachlan, the overworked island doctor who desperately needs her help. Muriel’s caught too, with ghosts of her wartime past threatening to crack the shell she’s built with such dedication and care.
But isn’t Manhattan their home? How can two women give up the perfect world they’ve worked so hard for by taking a chance on…life?
‘Home To Turtle Bay has been a long time in gestation. Like a turtle hatchling, it lay under the surface, slowly developing until it finally emerged to the light’.
Marion Lennox, author of Home To Turtle Bay.
Marion Lennox has achieved the pinnacle in terms of romance writing in Australia. She has received twenty three nominations for the Romance Writers of Australia’s romantic book of the year, winning three times. She was also inducted in the Romance Writers hall of fame in 2017, one of only three writers to achieve this title. With over 100 romance titles to her name, published across the world and selling in the millions, Home To Turtle Bay is a very special novel for Marion Lennox. Known for her short romance stories, Home To Turtle Bay is her biggest achievement yet, as it is a novel told with depth. In this brand new story, an idyllic island, a touch of surfing, cows, turtles and an American obstetrician make up this unputdownable tale.
Home To Turtle Bay introduces the central character of Doctor Jennifer (Jenny) Kelly. When the book opens, we learn that Jenny is a highly regarded obstetrician based in Manhattan, with a loving fiancé, Richard. Cared for by her Grandmother, Jenny’s childhood was not so conventional. Her entire life, Jenny’s Grandfather has been a distant figure, now following his death, he decides to leave Jenny with his lasting legacy, a dairy farm and some old surfboards. The problem is for US based Jenny, the farm is on the other side of the world, on a tiny island named Nautilus, off the coast of NSW. Jenny plans to sell the place as quickly as she can, but that’s not before checking it out for herself first, tagging her Grandmother along for the ride. Once they set foot on Nautilus, Jenny is overwhelmed by what she is confronted with. When local man Jack makes his presence known it causes a few ripples. The return to Turtle Bay brings back memories of the war. Home To Turtle Bay is about that constant search for a sense of belonging and taking that all important leap of faith.
If you are lucky to be on an extended summer holiday break, or you are in need of the ultimate beach bag accessory, do put Home To Turtle Bay on your list. This is a really great romance and an uplifting read. As soon as I started reading it, I literally couldn’t stop! Turtle Bay became my anchor point and I didn’t want to leave the shallows of this magical book.
The appeal of Home To Turtle Bay, initially came from the premise. I loved the scenario presented by Marion Lennox, it was a fish out of water tale, with a twist! I enjoyed watching on as Doctor Jenny Kelly and her grandmother Muriel made the transition from their perfect city life in Manhattan, to Nautilus island. When this twosome set foot on Nautilus the fun, drama, adventure and life experiences begin. It really was a true pleasure to tag along and follow the journey partaken by both Jenny and Muriel.
Nautilus Island is a cracking locale to set a book. I actually had to look up Nautilus to see if it did exist, but to my dismay it was a fictional locale only. Anyhow, despite my disappointment in not being able to visit the real Nautilus, I lapped up Lennox’s sense of place. I’m sure she secretly booked my imaginary airline ticket and ferried me over there, her descriptions of this fictional and idyllic locale were absolutely amazing.
‘And what an island! It came into view, sunlit and stunning, mountainous inland, with undulating farmland near the coast and sea stretching on forever’.
I’m sure you agree from this quote I have pulled from the early moments of the novel that this is a very special book, about a very unique location.
Lennox has a great approach to characterisation, I was very impressed. Doctor Jenny was a character that I felt an immediate and friendly connection towards. I enjoyed her interactions with her family (Muriel) her friends (Isabella) and her love interest (Jack). Meanwhile, Jenny’s Grandmother Muriel was initially quite the enigma, but as the book reveals it secrets, I came to appreciate the full worth of Muriel. Lennox has cast a great unsung hero in Jack McLachlan. He was incredibly well drawn and such a likable man. I admired just how many different hats he wore, he was almost superhuman! There is a fabulous supporting line up in Home To Turtle Bay, from the local supportive community of Nautilus, through to Jenny’s fiancé Richard, Fraser and dear Bridget. Then there are the non human characters that transform this story. The majestic turtle population, to Drifter and the cows. Each has a story to tell and makes a valuable contribution the unfolding story.
Lennox places much emphasis on surfing as a theme of her book. Each new chapter is introduced with a common surfing term, which gives the reader a good idea of where this book is headed direction wise. There are plenty of subsequent surfing references filtered through the book, from Muriel’s penchant for the sport, along with Jenny’s Grandfather’s legacy and young Bridget teaching Jenny to surf. We also learn about the history of surfing and the techniques of this water sport. It really makes for an enlightening and very different read.
In the premise, Lennox promises a story about a wartime secrets and the revelation of ghosts from the past. This makes up a nice side focus for the novel, which is centrally focussed on Dr Jenny’s character journey. I did appreciate the war story very much and it gave me a better appreciation for burns victims and those impacted by the experience of war. In Home To Turtle Bay, it is the Vietnam War experience that holds our focus, covered sensitively by Marion Lennox.
Romance is in the air for much of this novel. Jenny must decide where her heart truly lies. She criss crosses between her comfortable life in Manhattan with the ambitious Richard and her encounter at Nautilus with Jack, which leaves her a changed woman. Romance is clearly Lennox’s forte and there was a strong ring of truth in her leading lady’s romance woes! Likewise, there is a lot of action in the love stakes for Muriel, which offset Jenny’s story just perfectly.
I could go on and on about Home To Turtle Bay. This is one of those novels that will have you reading compulsively way into the night or like me, you will find a way to skip the housework or cooking, just to sneak some more of this story into your day. Home To Turtle Bay proved to be life affirming, upbeat and an absolutely enchanting read.
Home To Turtle Bay was published on 19th November 2018 by Harlequin – Mira AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Home To Turtle Bay, Marion Lennox, here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin – Mira AU for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Home To Turtle Bay is book #4 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge