#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

Title: All About Ella

Author: Meredith Appleyard

Published: September 1st 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 416

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

At 70, and widowed, Ella is about to find out that blood is not always thicker than water. A wise and warm-hearted story about aging, family and community for readers of Tricia Stringer and Liz Byrski.

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

A keenly observed story about aging and its inherent vulnerability, about community and chosen family, about how family stressors shape us all, about trust and loyalty, and about standing up for yourself.

Review:

A journey that promotes independence, taking charge of your rights and destiny, along with the realities of ageing, All About Ella is an engaging tale that I enjoyed very much.

Now in her seventies, Ella should be enjoying and embracing all life has to offer. Instead, this widow finds that she is constantly at odds with her family. After a huge family argument Ella decides that enough is enough and she escapes her son’s home for some much-needed breathing space. Ella’s safe haven becomes Cutlers Bay, a seaside town in the Yorke Peninsula area of South Australia. Ella befriends Angie at Cutlers Bay, a woman who is at a crossroads in her life. Ella is also placed under the watchful eye of a local police officer named Zach, who is suspicious of Angie and is keeping close tabs on Ella at the request of her son. Ella soon finds a strong connection to Cutlers Bay and this leads her to make a big decision, to move to the seaside community permanently. Ella purchases a property and with Angie’s help they make this unfit home a place to enjoy. Even Zach, who was initially resistant to the two women, finds his outlook has changed. In this touching new story from Meredith Appleyard the reader learns of the importance of building a line of trust and a sense belonging in the face of suppression.

It is great to see such a flurry of books of late willing to place mature characters in the spotlight. Meredith Appleyard is an Australian based author who enthusiastically places seniors, personal choices, family pressures, greed and independent living at the centre of her latest story. All About Ella is a very pleasant and thought-provoking title that highlights the challenges faced by our older population base.

Narrated from three points of view, All About Ella provides the reader with an insight into the lives of title character Ella, her new companion Angie and local cop Zach. Meredith Appleyard’s latest offers a well rounded narrative, an honest portryal of current issues, balanced characters and an interesting storyline. Appleyard provides an insight into the thought patterns of each feature character in her novel. Appleyard also populates her new book with a credible set of secondary players who all add flavour to this bright tale. The dialogue, interactions and responses that are filtered through All About Ella are in tune with reality, so it is easy to feel sympathy for the characters! I know I was in the Ella cheer camp. I was keen to see the title character take control of her own destiny. Appleyard truly shines in this area of her new novel, as she advocates very loudly for the rights of our older population.

All About Ella is set in a beautiful part of our country that I have not been able to set foot on, but after reading Meredith Appleyard’s book I really felt a strong desire to visit this stunning seaside locale. The Yorke Peninsula area is vividly brought to life thanks to Appleyard’s vibrant descriptions of this stunning slice of South Australian land. I loved how Ella went against her family’s wishes and expectations to purchase her own property in this picturesque location. On first thought it seemed like a rash decision, but I think that this bold move by Ella was much needed to prove to her family that she really means business! Tying in Angie and Zach’s influence on this unsuitable home was fabulous. I really enjoyed playing an active role in the events of this story. Appleyard places her characters some very believable and trying situations, especially in regards to vulnerability. But in the end Appleyard’s message in regards to importance of standing up for your own rights was a powerful one to direct the book.

All About Ella is a story that encompasses many core areas of our everyday existence – family, personal choice, rights, love, friendship, health, wellbeing, community, connection and belonging. My heartfelt thanks to Meredith Appleyard for such a wholesome read.

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard was published on 1st September 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of All About Ella, Meredith Appleyard visit here.

All About Ella is book #101 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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