#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · romance · rural fiction

New Release Book Review: The Farmer’s Friend by Fiona McArthur

Title: The Farmer’s Friend

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: August 31st 2021

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 384

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

The heartwarming new medical rural romance from the bestselling author of The Bush Telegraph.

They’d bought a stock and feed store called, of all things, The Farmer’s Friend.
Gracie could tell Jed thought it a great name. ‘Farmers stick together. I like it.’

Jed and Gracie’s move to Featherwood brings big dreams and open hearts, despite the drought around them. The ready-made rural store even comes with an ancient homestead overlooking the river, albeit one requiring some TLC. Gracie is expecting, and they’re eager to put down family roots in the tiny community.

Midwife Nell has fled her life in Sydney, hoping to start afresh on a small farm away from prying eyes and gossip. She strives to go unnoticed, but that proves near impossible when she meets charismatic Gracie and Jed, and the unpredictable, attractive Liam, who has as much emotional baggage as Nell does herself.

Jed’s store becomes the meeting place for the town’s colourful characters, people who’d do anything for their neighbours and friends. As Gracie’s due date draws close, tensions rise between her and Jed when his impulsiveness strains their precarious financial situation. As a bushfire ravages the region, the whole town comes under threat, putting relationships and lives on the line.

Can quiet achievers, unexpected heroes, and a valley of part-time fire-fighters and farmers help Featherwood rise again?

By the bestselling author of The Bush Telegraph comes a moving and uplifting Australian drama about what it really means to be a community – and learning that best friends can also make the best family.

Review:

‘Good people stick together – like farmer’s friends.’

A story of trying moments and good times in our rural communities, The Farmer’s Friend is the latest release from bestselling author Fiona McArthur. Combining her expert medical knowledge, along with her implicit understanding of small town living in Australia, Fiona McArthur honours her readers with an embracing new tale of community life. I highly recommend this new release from a trusted Australian rural fiction author.

In The Farmer’s Friend, we are acquainted with a wonderful couple named Jed and Gracie, who are about to embark on a big move to the little country town called Featherwood. Despite the looming threat of Mother Nature’s wrath and drought, this couple are feeling very positive about their new life in Featherwood. With the local rural store in their sights, the reinvention process begins and Gracie can’t wait to settle into the welcoming fold of Featherwood. The Farmer’s Friend also introduces Nell, a midwife who is hoping to start afresh in Featherwood. Nell hopes to keep a low-key presence in her new home, but this soon changes when she connects with Gracie, Jed and another Featherwood resident named Liam. With the local store in the capable hands of Jed, the community all seem to descend on this meeting place. But Jed battles with the finances of his new acquisition, while Gracie worries about the impending birth of her child. Further threats come from a bushfire that is set to engulf Featherwood. Will the residents of Featherwood survive their setbacks?

Considered the chief head of Australian rural fiction, which can be evidenced by her vast collection of bestselling novels, Fiona McArthur makes a most welcome return to the reading world with The Farmer’s Friend. Filled with heart and passion, The Farmer’s Friend is an inspiring new tale from an author who is loved by so many readers across our country.

With themes of new beginnings, second chances, risk, financial concerns, motherhood, parenting, birth, healthcare, healing, friendship and family, the umbrella focus on community leads the charge in The Farmer’s Friend. Fiona McArthur is passionate about her topics and she brings her love for country life into every aspect of her new story. This first-hand knowledge and understanding provides the reader with a detailed view of life in small town communities such as the fictional Featherwood. Although Featherwood is fictional creation, it is clear that McArthur has drawn on her extensive knowledge of living and working in similar rural communities in Australia to present Featherwood to her audience. Drawing in discussion points around fire, drought, finances, farming challenges and the general struggles faced by our hardworking rural community dwellers, Fiona McArthur presents an incredibly worthy rural fiction narrative.

Fiona McArthur is well known for her ability to blend medical issues and midwifery in her contemporary fiction releases. The Farmer’s Friend is a great example of McArthur’s ability to fuse contemporary romance with medical aspects, with an added rural focus. The Farmer’s Friend features medically trained characters and health care-based storylines, which adds further interest to the story at large. I enjoyed following the medical dramas of this latest tale from the bestselling midwife and educator.

The Farmer’s Friend closely follows the focus couple of this tale, Jed and Gracie, but McArthur colours her novel with plenty of larger than life characters. The community folk of Featherwood contribute a great deal to the overall storyline direction, along with the help of midwife Nell. This wonderful cast of characters all help to lift the novel to memorable proportions. I honestly felt like an honorary member of the Featherwood community base while following this inviting tale.

Fiona McArthur works hard via The Farmer’s Friend to give a voice to our rural Australian communities by highlighting the pressures and struggles faced by our resilient Australian dwellers. Pick this one up without delay if you love Australian rural fiction.

The Farmer’s Friend by Fiona McArthur was published on 31 August 2021 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Farmer’s Friend, Fiona McArthur, visit here.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Farmer’s Friend is book #83 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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