Author: Anna Romer
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: August 24th to 25th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Anna Romer has written an intriguing story of family secrets, lies and tragedy that takes place at Lyrebird Hill, a three thousand acre property that has been in Ruby’s family since her great-grandmother’s time. After discovering her boyfriend is a cheating prick and also finding out her sister’s death on that same property eighteen years ago may not have been the accident she always thought it was, Ruby returns to Lyrebird Hill seeking answers she had locked away in a vault in her head after suffering amnesia from a head injury that same day her sister died. As her memory returns, she also uncovers family secrets from the diary and letters of a relative from the late 1800s that show that violence, tragedy and death are no strangers to their family. Ruby must search her memory and herself to face the truth of her sister’s death.
I got a bit sucked into this one! It didn’t take me long to race through, only overall about three hours of train travel over a day and a half. I was drawn into the story and the characters, and the complexities of both. The unravel of family mysteries and secrets that can haunt families for years and generations I always find fascinating. One house and the bush surrounding it that contained so much love and heartbreak and tragedy of its occupants – I felt as if the property itself was a character, so well thought out and vivid in my mind it was. The characters, too, were full of depth and each were struggling with the ghosts of their past – and the wonderful Esther trying to bring everything full circle! I only wish we could have seen more of her but I could feel her influence and presence among the pages. I think she would have been pleased with the outcome.
I couldn’t decide if I preferred to read Ruby’s story or Brenna’s. Both were fantastic. Told in alternating chapters, with each one we are shifted from 2013 to 1898 and back again, but the chapters were generally of a decent length that it didn’t feel too abrupt, and made even more sense as the stories started to merge. I honestly don’t know how Brenna continued on all those years and I would have loved to hear more about what she thought and felt, and how she went on, after her story is left off. She is a trooper, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I could have got through what she did. It pleased me, also, to read how Ruby faced her demons, even when she wasn’t sure what they would, even when she wasn’t sure she would like the answers she found. Despite her fears, she pressed on and I thought that was quite admirable, and telling as to her enormous character development.
Sometimes when things get all sorted out and the book ends, I wonder if that’s truly reflective of life. But I’m glad there was some happiness left at the end for the poor souls of this novel – they’d had more than enough of the bad stuff! Things do often turn out alright and life goes on after loss and tragedy. Granted it’s not easy, as this novel shows but it certainly leaves a feeling of hope, of things being okay in the end. The only question left unanswered (unless I missed it) – what happened to Pete in those in between years? Obviously he wasn’t hanging around waiting for Ruby. He went back to Newcastle but what did he do there, who did he live with, where did he go? Everything else was revealed so well but I think the author forgot about Pete until he moved back. That, or it was given so little time and scope that I promptly forgot about it.
Lyrebird Hill comes alive in this fantastic story of love, loss, betrayal and family mysteries. A great read.