Title: The Long Road Home
Author: Fiona McCallum
Published: March 23rd 2020
Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
You can’t find where you truly belong until you discover who you really are…
Alice Hamilton is enjoying her new life in Ballarat with the freedom to explore her future now she’s stepped away from the constraints of her upbringing. She’s learnt the hard way that knowledge is power, and is looking forward to her legal studies, then making a difference as a lawyer with heart.
But while Alice’s life is looking up, back in Hope Springs the world of her former husband Rick Peterson is unravelling. After a chance meeting a few months earlier, Rick and Alice have reconnected. And it’s fortunate they have, because Rick is about to need Alice’s friendship like he’s never needed it before.
Rick has always felt a bit lost – as a farmer, he could never admit he didn’t feel the deep connection to the land that the only son and third generation farmer should. And now he’s suddenly being forced to come to terms with just why his heart isn’t in it and what’s behind his fractured relationships. Has his whole life been a lie – and if so, where did that lie begin?
From Australia’s master storyteller comes an inspiring story about how when your life falls apart sometimes help can be found where you least expect it.
‘This was really the first time in her adult life Alice was truly living a life for her and really felt at a deep, soul level.’
The Long Road Home marks Australian author Fiona McCalllum’s twelfth published novel. Over the space of a decade, McCallum has successfully released a well received collection of rural and domestic fiction novels, which displays her intuitive approach as an author of contemporary fiction. The Long Road Home is a continuation of last year’s release, A Life of Her Own, it will be sure to strike a chord with fans of this book and it will also draw in new readers to McCallum’s work.
The Long Road Home sees lead character Alice Hamilton in a much better position than she was when we followed her journey in A Life of Her Own. Alice is now free and independent. Alice is also travelling full steam ahead with her education plans and her career aspirations in law are panning out well. But Alice‘s ex-husband Rick, a farmer from the small town of Hope Springs is struggling. He now needs Alice more than ever. The two have reconnected and time has seen their fractured relationship heal. When Rick experiences a significant loss in his life, along with a family crisis, it sends him in a spin. Unable to cope with his escalating feelings over the disconnection he feels to his life on the land, Rick heads on a journey back to Alice. Can these two lost and broken souls help one another?
Fiona McCallum has been a permanent fixture on my reading schedule for some years now. I look forward to each new release that McCallum brings and this one was no exception. I was lucky to be gifted with the opportunity to read her previous book in this series, A Life of Her Own last year. After closing the final page of this book, I had a sneaky suspicion that McCallum wasn’t quite done with the characters of her novel. It was nice to be reunited with most the characters of this book. Alice is a protagonist that I can sympathise with and root for. While her delightful canine companion Bill always puts a smile on my face. There are other protagonists who featured in the previous novel that I would rather not meet again. These include Alice’s ex David and her controlling family. But I liked the fact that the second part of this book really gives Alice’s ex-husband Rick a chance to share his emotional journey.
The Long Road Home reads in two distinct parts, with the characters overlapping both sections. In part one, we really see Alice come into her own. She has made some great personal and professional gains in her life. Alice has worked hard to forge a new career and upskill herself in the area of law. I genuinely enjoyed catching up with Alice and I appreciated seeing how much growth she had made to her life. Alice is still plagued by some self-doubt and self-worth issues, which shows that she still has a bit more work to do in this respect. There are also increasing tensions and guilt provided in the form of her unreasonable family. These aspects of the book really did get under my skin! How a family could behave like this is truly awful! However, McCallum’s treatment of these family issues is presented in a realistic and in touch manner.
The second part of The Long Road Home puts Rick, Alice’s ex, in the spotlight. I liked the way in which McCallum handled this relationship. It was a refreshing to see a former couple reconcile and find friendship. The way these two support one another was admirable. Likewise, McCallum’s treatment of grief, disconnection, male emotions, mental instability and life crisis is handled with insight, as well as sensitivity. McCallum allows us to see through Rick’s personal struggles that it is ok for men to break down and seek support when the time comes. Drawing in a number of side characters to this thread helped move the story along and it also supplied some extra character dynamics. The family mystery aspect that underscores Rick’s story was consuming and it definitely encouraged me to continue on with the novel to the end.
Fiona McCallum’s many years as a successful rural fiction novelist shine through in The Long Road Home. Although the rural aspects are not a huge chunk of the novel, McCallum’s descriptions of her locale and the setting base comes to life, thanks to her writing style. I enjoyed my sojourn to Hope Springs and Ballarat. It was a welcome armchair travel experience, reminding me of some picturesque places of our country that one day I hope to experience first-hand.
McCallum ties up her threads nicely in The Long Road Home. Readers who appreciate a happy ever after style close will be pleased with the final result. It was a delight to backtrack to Hope Springs and Ballarat with Alice, Rick and of course dear Bill, it proved to be a heartwarming experience.
The Long Road Home by Fiona McCallum was published on 23rd March 2020 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Long Road Home, Fiona McCallum, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Long Road Home is book #43 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge