I’m pretty sure this is the best book I’ve read from Karly Lane – either under this name, or her other one.
“Rural Lit” is the thing in the Australian publishing industry at the moment. Because of McLeod’s Daughters? If you go into any bookshop in Australia (if you can find one – they’ve all been closing since we discovered The Book Depository and realised Australian publishers had been overcharging us by about 1000000%!), and you’ll be engulfed in a sea of farm-themed, women-themed books. They’re often told entirely from the woman’s perspective – but don’t worry first-person haters, it’s not in that style!
You can spot these books from a mile off: there’s always a woman on the cover, and she is almost always wearing an Akubra.
(Of course, the same could be said for most other book genres – exactly how many topless waxed-chested, muscular male models are gracing Romance covers these days?! Or teenage girls in massive dresses for Young Adult Fiction?)
Certainly, every country has a “thing” at any given moment, be it Regency Romance, sparkly vampires who stalk the most pathetic girl in the class, or bad fanfiction about the stalker and the pathetic girl!
The problem with a “thing” is that it leads to saturation. In the past week I’ve started – and stopped – two other Rural Lit books. After all, there’re only so many times you can read, “Young woman wants to be a farmer, but her father doesn’t think it’s a career for girls” books! There was nothing wrong with the books, but I guess I was looking for something fresh.
Then I remembered I’d been saving Morgan’s Law for a special day (as you do!). If there was one author in the genre who was guaranteed to deliver a good read, it was Karly Lane.
I powered on through this one. The mystery is upfront and solid from the start, and there’s a very clear, very Australian image of the town painted from the first page. I liked the characters, and they had that something to them that you need to make a book a memorable read. I especially liked Adam Buchanan. He was my favourite person in the book, and I always sat up a bit straighter when he came onto the page. A lot of female authors write unconvincing male characters (just as a lot of men can’t write women!), but I think Lane did an excellent job.
This wasn’t just another story about a determined girl and her hulking farmer guy.
The other thing that sets Morgan’s Law apart from similarly-themed books is that the rural setting surrounds the story instead of being the story. The environment is worked into the surroundings, rather than the plot grinding to a halt for a two-chapter exposé on sheep-shearing!
A popular theme in rural books involves a character coming from the city and being blown away by the country. If you grew up in Canberra – as I did – you’re surrounded by more bushland than many rural folks (something another author a couple of years ago annoyed me by ignoring, while throwing insults our way!), so you can sit back and appreciate the best of both worlds. Often, rural writers paint the city – and people from it – in a very negative light. Lane refrains from doing that – not even a hint of it! She illustrates that they’re different rather than superior or inferior. I am so grateful for that, as it’s something that has seriously irked me about other books.
So, if you’re looking for a rural-themed read, and are swimming through mountains of books with Akubra-clad girls on the covers, keep an eye out for this title.
It’s one of the best of the bunch.
When Sarah Murphy returns to Australia she desperately needs a break from her high-powered London life. And though mystified by her grandmother’s dying wish for her ashes to be scattered under ‘the wishing tree’ on the banks of the Negallan River, she sets out to do just that. While searching for the wishing tree, Sarah stays in the small township of Negallan. It’s there that she finally has some time to relax and unwind, there that she finds herself drawn to a handsome local farmer, and there that she discovers her enquiries about her grandmother are causing disquiet within the powerful local Morgan family. Will the Morgans prevent Sarah from discovering the truth about her grandmother? And should she risk her glittering career in the UK for a simpler existence in the country, and the possibility of true love?