Friday, April 29, 2016

Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho @JGBookSolutions @maggiebolitho

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Title:   Outback Promise
Author:  Maggie Bolitho
Published:  November 1st, 2015
Publisher:   HarperCollins Australia – Impulse Imprint
Genre:  Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis:  Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope
After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour’s lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady’s infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months together camping will rekindle what was lost so long ago.
Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they’ve lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?

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Excerpt from Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho

Having agreed to go on a three-month trip into the outback with her husband, protagonist Ros meets her best friend Suzanne for lunch:

Suzanne refilled both our glasses. How many bottles of wine had we shared over the years? I eased my glass to my lips and emptied half of it.
‘Does it have to be camping?’
[…] she set her fork down and cleared her throat. ‘Okay, you can stop the act now – what I really want to know is, when’s the big divorce?’
It took every bit of my willpower to bite back the first questions that sprang into my head. How did you find out? What do you know? I speared a small green leaf and chewed slowly, half-smiling at her. My pulse raced as I tried to imagine what she’d heard and how.
She drained her glass of chardy while her attention lit on a surfer half her age strutting past on the beach below. When I didn’t answer she continued, ‘You know – the two of you. Sleeping in a tent. Nothing around but dirt, dingos, and drongos. How long’s that going to last?’
 ‘Not so fast. There is some good in all of this.’
‘Like what?’
‘Grady and I are planning and doing things together. I can’t remember the last time we shared a project or worked to the same goal.’
‘I guess this trip is better than him buying a sports car and taking on a mistress.’ She gestured for the bill with a wiggle of her fingers. ‘Now that’s a laugh. Grady, the most loyal man ever to draw breath, having an affair. There’s one thing you’ll never have to worry about!’
I put on my sunglasses and ignored the lies that hung between us. Six years earlier Suzanne knew every detail about me, large and small. She had been at my side when I miscarried my first child and again when Cadel was born. While we rejoiced at the birth of my beautiful baby, she consoled me over the emergency hysterectomy I’d undergone.
‘One healthy baby will bring you unlimited joy. Quality trumps quantity,’ she said and kissed Cadel’s tiny fists.
Now I couldn’t even tell her how a stray voice at the Supershow had almost stopped my heart. She didn’t know that far from being the most loyal man on earth, Grady had inflicted fresh pain when the old wounds weren’t fully healed. She also didn’t know how close we’d come to bankruptcy when he had managed our finances. She saw what the outside world was meant to see: two people, affectionate and loyal, the public face of our marriage. I needed a holiday in ways she could never guess.

5 Stars

What an enjoyable story!  I was hooked from the first as Roslyn and Grady’s  faltering marriage takes center stage.  The pair had endured devastating loss when their young son was tragically killed.  Now, years later, Grady convinces Ros to take a three month road trip through the Australian Outback in an attempt to re-ignite the love they once had for each other.

Told from Roslyn’s perspective, the narrative became spell-binding for me;  inducing in me a state of such empathy that I  felt as if I shared her pain.  I wanted to dislike Grady, but I just couldn’t.  A main take-away for me after reading this novel is that people have different coping mechanisms and that often actions can be misconstrued, even as mistakes compound problems.

The reason I chose to read this book to begin with is because I love to read stories set in Australia, particularly in the harsh interior of that country.  The writer’s lyrical descriptions of the landscape were haunting and beautiful.  This read kept me solidly in its grip as I turned each page in anticipation of unraveling the underlying causes of the friction within Ros and Grady’s soured relationship, all the while hoping that somehow they would find a way back to each other spiritually.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Reviewed by Laurie-J

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About the Author:
A free range child, Maggie Bolitho grew up on an island in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. She spent her formative years constructing alternative universes, flying under the radar and wishing for 20/20 vision.
She set out to see the world shortly after her 17th birthday. Eventually she met and fell in love with a wild colonial boy. After five years of futile resistance, she moved to Melbourne, Australia and married him. In 2007, Maggie and her husband made Canada their permanent home. They now live in a leafy suburb on that island where Maggie grew up and neither of them wishes to be anywhere else, except for when memories of the sunburnt country beckon.
While living Down Under, she started writing fiction and explored the outback. In 2015 HarperCollins Australia published her novel Outback Promise. Her debut novel Lockdown (YA) was published in 2014. Some of her adult short stories appear in different anthologies in the US, Canada, and Australia. She has had poetry published in Quills Canadian Poetry magazine.

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