You will be moved by this novel

TEARS trickled down my face as I read the final page of Sally Hepworth's novel, The Mother's Promise, which is a good indication the writer has created a story that is real and powerful. This is one of those books you become invested in. It is modern, timely and deals with some of life's big issues.

The author delves into human dilemmas taking readers into the lives of the fictional characters she has created to tell the tale. Hepworth writes in an emotive style compelling you to empathise with each character's predicament. It is relatable. Most readers will connect with at least one of the personalities in the book.

The Mother's Promise had an impact on me because I felt the pain each character was dealing with as events unfolded.

The complexities of life appear in each chapter as the main character Alice struggles with the prospect of her death from cancer and the inevitability of leaving her only child behind - a daughter who has severe social anxiety disorder.

 

Even though it is a work of fiction, it could easily be a true account. Short chapters and good story flow make for easy reading.

 

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99, is out now.

Robyn Courtney

Banjo's mother under the microscope

Looking for Rose Paterson is a curious little object. Some of its many fascinations were the number of sublime paintings portraying pastoral life represented in the glossy pages. One need only hold the book open in front of a window to verify the sky in Rose and Banjo's Australia is the same one that simultaneously graces and burns us today.

However, though each artwork has evidently been carefully selected, I was frustrated at how the double-page paintings had large grey quotes laid over them.

I understand the desire to set excerpts from Banjo's poems in harmony with paintings that complement them but I lament the chosen method that precludes the reproduction of the paintings in their entirety.

The curiosities that pervade the book don't limit themselves to images. Whether written by the author or in Rose's own hand, the words serve at least as well to paint a nuanced and sincere picture of bush life. A mother's perspective in a pioneering bush family was conveyed in Rose's correspondence with friends and family.

These letters allowed opportunity to uncover Banjo's roots and revealed his genetic predisposition to write charming and entertaining stories - a talent he evidently inherited from Rose.

While Looking for Rose Paterson is an easy picture book to skim through, there is a surprising amount of substance to the text. Under the romantic image of the bush is the harsh reality of hard work and little return. Isolation, the perils of pregnancy and childbirth, and the pain of tragedy are wrought into the rarely preserved stories of so many women like Rose.

Serious themes are treated with straightforward clarity, even if Rose's preferred method of dealing with hardship was to turn it into something amusing.

 

Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet by Jennifer Gall, published by NLA Publishing, RRP $39.99, is out now.

August Fitch


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