Fiona McCallum is an expert at getting into the minds of her characters and teasing out emotional issues. She is not afraid to tackle subjects such as dysfunctional families, and the later life chaos they promote. She creates a journey by following the thoughts and emotions of her characters as they reach adult hood, and begin to understand, that without help and support their life is fraught.
There are two main characters in The Long Road Home. Alice Hamilton has grown up with a narcissistic mother, and sadly her father committed suicide when she was quite young. Rick Peterson has grown up on a farm, never feeling like he belonged and being badly treated by his father. Their stories are inter-woven and when they meet, not surprisingly, they fall in love, eventually marrying, but find they cannot sustain a loving relationship.
The issue of friendship is really emphasised in both Alice’s and Rick’s journey. Both of them are lucky enough to have met good and true friends who can pull them up when need be, or give them a shoulder to cry on. The patience which friendship promotes, helps with the ability to see life as it is rather than the reflection of misguided parenting advice. Alice eventually moves to Ballarat, where she is nurtured by good friends and the love of a small mutt as she settles into a life of her own.
After the death of both his parents Rick reflects on his unhappiness growing up on the farm. He and his sisters are shocked to find that the farm won’t be passed down to him but will go to the girls who live elsewhere. He always had a sense of dislocation, and when he discovers his birth certificate, realises why. His vocation and hereditary are a far cry from the farm.
The Long Road Home is quite an intense tale, with some unusual twists and although a stand-alone, continues on from McCallum’s recent best seller, A Life of Her Own. Many wise words are shared, with the struggle for both the characters showing that hard work by way of planning and rethinking your life can pay off.
|HQ Fiction - AU