Title: The Banksia Bay Beach Shack
Author: Sandie Docker
Published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 stars
The heartwarming new family saga from the bestselling author of The Kookaburra Creek Café.
A year is a long time in the memory of a small town. Stories get twisted, truths become warped, history is rewritten.
When Laura discovers an old photo of her grandmother, Lillian, with an intriguing inscription on the back, she heads to the sleepy seaside town of Banksia Bay to learn the truth of Lillian’s past. But when she arrives, Laura finds a community where everyone seems to be hiding something.
Virginia, owner of the iconic Beach Shack café, has kept her past buried for sixty years. As Laura slowly uncovers the tragic fragments of that summer so long ago, Virginia must decide whether to hold on to her secrets or set the truth free.
Young Gigi and Lily come from different worlds but forge an unbreakable bond – the ‘Sisters of Summer’. But in 1961 a chain of events is set off that reaches far into the future. One lie told. One lie to set someone free. One lie that changes the course of so many lives.
Welcome to the Banksia Bay Beach Shack, where first love is found and last chances are taken.
A moving and heartfelt story by the bestselling author of The Kookaburra Creek Café and The Cottage At Rosella Cove.
Sandie Docker issues her awaiting readers with another breathtaking tale of small town Australian life, decades old secrets, love, family, connections and hope. The Banksia Bay Beach Shack (another absolutely fabulous title choice from Docker) is a story that reminds us that sometimes we need to abandon all our fears and take a leap of faith. Docker’s third novel is a stirring read that truly tugs at all your heart strings.
In the present day, a young woman named Laura comes across a photograph of her grandmother. This intriguing photo, which features an equally mysterious inscription, leads this perturbed young woman to embark on a journey into the past. It will send Laura to the sleepy little seaside town of Banksia Bay, a place that holds the closely guarded secrets of her grandmother’s past. When Laura begins rooting around for answers to her grandmother’s back history, it is clear that the secrets surrounding her grandmother’s past are not so easily shared. Closely aligned to this tale of family secrets is a figure who may be able to answer Laura’s questions. Virginia, an elderly woman who is the owner of a local café at Banksia Bay, has held a devastating secret close to her chest for over six decades. Virginia is faced with a dilemma when Laura appears in Banksia Bay asking about her grandmother Lillian. Virginia is torn between finally giving up her secrets, or to keep them concealed. Tracing back to the early 1960s, The Banksia Bay Beach Shack looks at lies, truths, personal sacrifice, true love and the bonds of friendship.
It is so nice to see Sandie Docker back on our bookshelves, she really has become one of my favourite Australian authors. I always have a good word to say about Sandie’s stories, which are varnished with plenty of heart, emotion and intuition. When I read an early response to The Banksia Bay Beach Shack by the author’s sister, I had a strong feeling from reading this endorsement that I was going to have a similar response. I can tell you that now I have closed the final page of this touching novel, I was emotionally moved by Sandie Docker’s latest offering.
I do have a weakness for novels that are driven by a perplexing mystery from the past, to be unlocked by a figure in the present day. In The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, the discovery of an intriguing photograph opens up a full search into the past for the present day lead. This was a fabulous narrative device that definitely hooked me right in and kick started my full interest in the story at hand.
Banksia Bay truly is a wonderful stage. This small town community, nestled on the seaside, is brimming with lasting connections, secrets, politics, heartbreak, pain and memories. Docker presents her readers with a quaint little coastal town that is vibrant, relaxed and picturesque. Banksia Bay also has a real holiday haven feel to it that made me want to take a trip to this stunning fictional locale. Banksia Bay is the perfect setting for old truths to finally be set free. It certainly added extra appeal to Docker’s novel.
Docker excels in her characterisation, which shines from the pages of The Banksia Bay Beach Shack. I was fully invested in the trials and tribulations of the cast, both in the present day storyline and the past narrative. Docker has a real flair for multi time frame novels and her passion for this style of narrative shines. In The Banksia Bay Beach Shack we travel effortlessly from the present day, back into the past in the early 1960s, which is clearly signposted for the reader. Docker does an excellent job of bringing this particular moment in time alive for the reader. Her ability to draw out the social issues, community opinions, expectations, public scorn, policy, moral practices and prejudice evident at this time was deeply authentic. These areas of the book moved me significantly and I was ashamed that many Australians behaved this way towards our migrant citizens in our not too recent past.
In the present day storyline we are presented with a set of genuine and likeable characters, who are very easy to connect to. The contemporary storyline is responsive, engaging and essential to the overall story arc. I genuinely loved following Laura’s investigation into her grandmother’s past and I was with Laura every step of the way. I also found her character journey moving and emotionally compelling. Laura’s genuine connection to Heath and the folk of Banksia Bay made this book a pleasurable experience, that I would be more than happy to repeat. There is a touch of friendship, acceptance, love, loyalty and protection that goes with the present day proceedings. On reflection, these themes touched me much more than I realised.
Expect to be confronted with plenty of twists, turns, revelations, shocking lies, concealed truths, surprising confessions, life changing acts, unforgettable relationships, episodes of devastating loss and moving demonstrations of love. The past gravitates around the present in The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, culminating in an impassioned finale that speaks to your soul. I give The Banksia Bay Beach Shack by Sandie Docker my full support!
The Banksia Bay Beach Shack by Sandie Docker was published on March 17th 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, Sandie Docker, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Banksia Bay Beach Shack is book #28 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge