Sam Murphy is hot, tired and dirty, but enjoying herself back on her family’s property in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Having rebuilt her life after a painful divorce, she offers to come home and care for the property while her parents take a much longed for holiday in Europe.
Her designer jeans are now smeared with mud, her carefully streaked hair bundled into a ponytail and her Dad’s old akubra jammed on her head, and she is loving it. That is except for the ‘bloody guinea fowl’, her mother pride and joy!
Neighbour Jack Cameron decides to call in make sure Sam is managing OK, which reignites a deep hurt in both Sam and Jack that goes back to their teen years spent as a couple. Both Sam and Jack are now divorced, both have children and both have learned not to trust easily in relationships.
As the days pass the endless dry heat of the summer draws Sam and Jack together, as does the constant worry about the fires that are burning over the other side of the ridge. Jack is in the Volunteer Fire Brigade and as the fires draw closer to Barrumba, Sam picks up the additional tasks that need to be done over at Jacks’ place while he is away fighting the fires.
This sets their somewhat delicate relationship on a new level, with both Sam and Jack learning to trust, to both be honest about the hurt of the past and allow fresh new tendrils of a relationship to begin to form once again.
The fierce summer heat and winds see the fires out of control, roaring across the land, heading towards their properties as well as their many neighbors; the race is on to try and save what they can against the fierce, relentless fires that are devastating the country.
Once Burnt, Twice Shy has a ring of truth and immense poignancy to the storyline, far more so than Karly Lane’s usual well-crafted stories, as her own home was on the edges of the horrific fires that devastated the country regions of New South Wales, over the summer of 2019-20.
The townspeople rallying around to help and support, the immense frustration of the farmers as they watch on helplessly, the exhaustion of the fire crews, has been described with first-hand knowledge, as has the emotion felt when the knowledge that there will be no stopping the forces of nature is grimly accepted.
Well written, and bravely done, as the devastation of the massive fires that swept across Australia during one summer of horror are still very raw, in many ways maybe this is a cathartic telling. Karly Lane looks at the aspects that out of horror can come joy, fresh new beginning can be found and the power of community working to support one another in terrible calamity, stands tall.
Once Burnt, Twice Shy is I consider, Karly Lane’s best yet, as it has a reality that is almost impossible to portray unless you have experienced the emotions first hand.
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen & Unwin|