Aussie Book Review: Bella’s Run by Margareta Osborn

bellas Bella’s Run by Margareta Osborn

Paperback

My TBR pile

Random House Australia, 2012

 Synopsis- Bella Vermaelon and her best friend Patty are two fun-loving country girls bonded in sisterhood no blood could ever beat. Now they are coming to the end of a road trip which has taken them from their family farms in the rugged Victorian high country to the red dust of the Queensland Outback.

For almost a year they have mustered cattle stations, cooked for weary stockmen, played hard at rodeos and danced through life like a pair of wild tumbleweeds. And with the arrival of Patty’s brother Will and Bella’s cousin Macca, it seems love is on the horizon too..

Then a devastating tragedy strikes, and Bella’s world is changed forever.

So she runs from the only life she has ever known. But can she really turn her back on the man she loves? Or on the land that runs deep in her blood?

Review- Warning *This review contains spoilers*

Bella’s Run is a gritty, emotionally moving saga about a young woman finding her place in the world following a tragic accident. Bella’s Run expands almost a decade of the protagonist, Bella’s life. It starts off with a bang, impulsive, foot-in-her mouth Bella is on adventurous road trip in the outback with her best mate, Patty. They’re working on an outback station to pay for their year-long trip and getting into plenty of strife along the way. They love to drink, they love to party and neither are too fussed about responsibilities or commitment.

Having read the back cover blurb and also hearing the author discuss this book at the Mudgee Reader’s Festival last year, I expected that something bad was going to happen. I knew Patty was going to die. You’d think knowing that would make it easier to read, but my anxiety was rising as the pages went on as Patty and Bella wound up in plenty of risky situations and I just kept waiting for it to happen… but it didn’t. Well not until the very end of Part One which was more than 160 pages. The anxious anticipation I experienced in the first half of the book really made it difficult for me to relax into the story and even though the accident was expected, I still felt a little teary when it did happen.

In part one, Bella and Patty are having a good time and it’s obvious how strong their  friendship is. I especially liked how Patty came to Bella’s rescue when she was nearly attacked by a bloke at a rodeo. Patty is one cool, confident chick! Bella at times was a little frustrating, she acts before she thinks and she is quite a partier. Her behaviour, in my opinion seemed more fitting for a teenager not a woman in her early twenties… or perhaps I’m just getting old!

There’s also the budding romance between Bella and Patty’s older brother Will. There’s instant attraction between them when the boys catch up with them in the outback and Bella is overwhelmed by the intensity of their mutual feelings for one another. Bella’s not ready to settle down and have children and she fears that at 28, Will may have different priorities. Nevertheless over the coming weeks they have a good time together and I suspect began to fall in love. Will was a likeable guy and obviously thought the world of Bella.

Part two of the book picks up eight years after the accident which was quite a shock for me. I wanted to know what happened in those years and I certainly wasn’t happy to see Bella had moved out of the country and to Melbourne where she was engaged to a self-centred metrosexual. Far from the rugged Will whom she had no contact with for 7 years. It’s obvious her relationship is on the rocks and when she returns to her hometown for a friend’s wedding I wasn’t surprised to see sparks flying between Will and Bella again. Their quick romp in the bush was a little unexpected but certainly sets the wheels in motion for Bella’s later
turmoil.

In the second half of the book, Bella is reflecting on her life, her relationships and her choices. Her return to the country has reignited some of the fire in her from her early twenties and she realises how much she’s missed the rural lifestyle. In the process of avoiding her grief she’d completely lost herself in a new world. When the opportunity arises for Bella to return home and care for a friend’s farm, she snaps up the opportunity- even if it means having to make small talk with her hunky neighbour, Will.

I must say, I found Bella and Will’s stubbornness infuriating. Eight years it took them to get their act together! Bella, hurt by Will’s behaviour following the accident, completely shuts him out and appears to do this over and over again- refusing to let him explain. But, I also felt Will was a bit of a coward at times, I just don’t feel he tried hard enough to resolve the issues between them. Working through their problems and learning to trust each other (or anyone) again was a big learning curve for both Will and Bella. It was such a relief to get to the end knowing they had both grown and matured and opened up their hearts again.

Bella’s Run is a poignant story about love, loss and building a future on rocky grounds. As a reader it was sometimes agonising, sometimes sad and sometimes full of joy. I felt a full range of emotions reading Bella’s Run and really recommend it as a wholesome rural read. Osborn’s use of language and dialogue is true to rural life and really brought the characters to life. Apart from Margareta being a down-to-earth and friendly author she’s also a great writer and I’ll be checking out more of her work in the future. In fact Hope’s Road will be released by Random House in March this year and I’ve already downloaded a copy from Netgalley.

Overall Rating

4/5

“I loved this book!”

Bella’s Run can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:

awwbadge_2013

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