Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries! To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.
An unforgettable tale of love, loss and betrayal from an exciting new Australian voice in historical fiction.
In stark contrast to her own childhood during the last days of the Raj in India, the spectacular beauty surrounding their home, Rathgarven in Ireland has proven to be a happy place for Kathleen O’Sullivan and her husband, James, to raise their four children. But Kathleen is no stranger to heartbreak, and when the family is faced with losing everything, she knows they will need to adapt to survive. Even if that means leaving their beloved home and moving to Australia to start afresh.
Lillie O’Sullivan knows that her mother and father haven’t been entirely truthful about the reasons for their move to Australia. But as they settle into their new home in rural New South Wales she is willing to give it a chance. That is, until the secrets her parents have kept for so long finally catch up with them.
Secrets that have the power to destroy their family and ruin their future.
From the vibrant colours of India to the meadows of Ireland to the harsh but beautiful Australian land, a family fight for their future.
A future wrapped up in a new but harsh land, love, betrayal and secrets form The Homestead on the River by Rosie Mackenzie. A sprawling family saga that crosses India, Ireland and Australia, the vibrant colours of three different continents define this new novel from an up and coming Australian writer.
There is nothing better than putting your feet up and relaxing with a grandiose family saga, sprawling over five hundred pages. The Homestead on the River is a solid example of a rich, complex and diverse family based saga, with a distinct Australian touch. Readers will find that The Homestead on the River is a great escapist and immersive style read, carrying you away from continent to continent, in the not too distant past.
I loved the opening prologue based in 1945, Calcutta. It was a great hook, that initially reeled me in and it solidified my early interest in this novel. I also enjoyed the early sequences set in County Kerry, Ireland. Although these locales are vastly different, there was an overwhelming sense of place that emanated from the pages of this book.
‘She turned and walked back along the jetty and into the meadow dotted with daisies and buttercups. For a moment she stopped and gazed up at the gabled house of pale grey stone with its wide French windows and the conservatory on the southern side, where thankfully the curtain was still drawn. The late-afternoon sun shone softly across the facade, coating it with a golden tinge. A shudder passed through Kathleen. Rathgarven had been the home of O’Sullivans for generations.’
Likewise, when the book moves to Australia, a strong shape of our continent begins to form and I appreciated this aspect of The Homestead on the River very much. I loved seeing Australia from the lens of a newcomer.
‘Lillie thought how different the countryside was to the rich green fields of Kerry, where the roads were so narrow and steep, winding through towering mountains, bogs, stony fields and thick woods. Stone walls and hedgerows would block the sight of many of the fields close to the road. Here she could see miles of flat land and barbed-wire fences instead of walls. And there were millions of gum trees; some of them looked as though their trunks had been painted white and others black. The blossoms on the wattle trees were bright yellow, not unlike the colour of the gorse at home.’
In terms of characterisation, Rosie Mackenzie has a firm handle on her cast. I did warm to Lillie and I enjoyed following her journey. The list of protagonists featured in The Homestead on the River is quite wide and there were times where I felt like they were slipping out of my reach. Luckily, my connection to Lillie overruled this and I felt a little more at ease. The back stories that follow the colourful characters in this novel was full of intrigue, speculation, concealment, loss, love, endurance, fresh starts and hope. More than enough to keep a busy reader on their toes!
The 1960s based setting was handled remarkably well. My own grandparents immigrated to Australia from the UK, just a few years after the O’Sullivan family left Ireland for different reasons, but I was able to make some parallels. I am sure this aspect of the story will draw readers in and allow many to cast their memories back to the nostalgia of the 1960s.
Rosie Mackenzie does draw her story out, so that the final reveal of the main family mystery occurs late in the piece. The parting moment of The Homestead on the River, ‘the road had turned another corner’ is full of promise. The audience is able to see that the characters in the book have come full circle and have been left stronger from the experience. Ambitious Australian fiction fans will delight in this five hundred page saga from newcomer Rosie Mackenzie.
‘Her parents had trod a long, hard road in the seven years since they had left Rathgarven for Australia.’
The Homestead on the River by Rosie Mackenzie was published on January 21st 2019 by Mira AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Homestead on the River, Rosie Mackenzie, visit here.
The Homestead on the River is book #41 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge