Living in Australia we are all too familiar with bush fires and the devastation they cause. With climate change it seems that we will experience more of these horrific scenarios and in suburbs that once would have been seen as safe. We all feel for people who have undergone the trauma and loss of a major fire. Fiona Lowe has set about to explore just what a huge and significant impact this has for years to come, and how the women in this story support and re build the town they once lived in.
The story is set in the town of Myrtle, in the Otway Ranges in Victoria. It was a tight knit farming community, small but with established farms and small businesses, with a great sense of community spirit. This is a wonderfully distinctive Australian story and Fiona has a gift for drawing characters who are so real you could recognise them. The author has presented the story in such a way that it begins with chapters before the fire and after the fire. Indeed, the locals measure everything as BF and AF.
In this clever way, we get to meet characters such as Claire. She grew up in Myrtle, trained as a Nurse and studied for many years. She went to PNG and was the sole medical consultant for people along the Sepik River. At age twenty eight she had returned home to Myrtle for holidays. Then she met Mat. Mat farmed with his family and had built up their sheep farm by diversifying with pigs. It was love at first sight and life seemed to full of wonderful opportunities ahead. But then came the fire.
Sophie and Josh have just fulfilled their dream of moving to the country to raise their family. By scrimping and saving they have managed to buy an old farm that needs plenty of work; this was their dream. Then came the fire! Bec and her husband Adam are married and have two much loved daughters. Adam was badly burnt in the fire and spent many weeks in the burn’s unit of the hospital. When he came home, Bec realized she didn’t know this man whose personality had undergone such a huge change.
The author presents us with scenarios that follow such trauma. The nightmares of the farmers who had to shoot their animals. The change in the teenager who was going through puberty. The woman who now dreaded getting pregnant for fear of not being able to protect a baby. The men who had been unable to save their homes, and the huge insurance rises for properties along with the devaluation of land values.
But the main message to come from this story is the resilience shown by those who have lived with terror, and how these strong women together, overcome personality traits and rivalries to rebuild hope and a future.
|Publisher||Harper Collins Publishing|
|Distributor||Harper Collins -HQ Fiction - AU|