Review copy provided by publisher
Allen & Unwin, April 2013
Synopsis- Alice Day is happy to be returning home to Redstone Station after two years at Agriculture College. During various placements at farms and stations during her time at college she was shocked at the second-class status of women workers, whereas her grandfather, Sam, who owns Redstone, has always treated her as an equal. For his part, Sam is delighted to have his granddaughter back on board. In shaping Alice he tried to avoid the mistakes he’d made with her mother, Lara, and she has lived up to his high expectations, graduating from Ag College with flying colours. He now sees Alice as his last chance to preserve his beloved station and successfully take it into the future. Exceptionally hard-working, with great horsemanship, an instinctive understanding of animals and a natural aptitude for farming, Alice is determined to justify her grandfather’s faith in her. But will her budding regard for one of the stockmen throw her, and the future of Redstone, off track?
Review- Alice Day is a young woman who has finished her agricultural studies and has returned home to Redstone Station to work on the farm run by her grandparents. The farm is struggling financially and Alice has plenty of new ideas of how to turn around the viability of their livelihood in the long-term. Alice was abandoned by her young mother Lara as a child and was raised by her grandparents who were determined to not repeat the same mistakes with the next generation. Alice’s estranged father is of Aboriginal heritage and there’s much curiosity on Alice’s part about her the instincts she has with the land and animals that were thought to be inherited from her father. There’s an interesting relationship dynamic between Alice and her grandfather and her grandmother, which evolves throughout the story.
I suppose, for me, what let this story down was the characterisation of Alice. She’s a young girl, about 18 years old at the beginning of the story and she’s quiet and reserved. I can certainly relate to a shy protagonist, but I think Alice was quite difficult to work out because she was so guarded throughout most of the story. It was hard to really know how she felt about Jeremy, about her grandparents and about any situation that would normally invoke an emotional reaction. But Alice just kept her head down and kept working. This lack of emotional expression made it difficult for me to connect with her at these times. In some ways, she was a little too perfect. Her only flaw was guarding her emotions but the conflict within her as a character and that she faced in her day to day life was quite weak. Much of her time is spent on the farm, and though I enjoyed reading about her lifestyle there was no pressing suspense or tension.
Jeremy on the other hand is Alice’s polar opposite. He’s loud, boisterous and he speaks before he thinks. He’s not the typical hero I’d warm to in part because of his emotional immaturity and his promiscuity (he has a lot of lady ‘friends’) but I did think he was a robust and likeable character. I must admit, I did secretly want to see him reformed in some way… but that wouldn’t be fair to Jeremy’s character. Alice’s influence (and that of her grandparents) certainly challenged Jeremy’s priorities and how he viewed himself and the world and his developing maturity was a pleasant surprise. On the other hand I’m kind of glad that he didn’t have to change the essence of who he was to be eventually accepted by Alice (apart from the absence of his promiscuous behaviour- obviously that would be a deal breaker in a relationship!) though his behaviour did become quite destructive near the end. Jeremy is a flawed hero, but he brought life to the story and there were many times I laughed out loud when he would say aloud what everyone else was probably thinking in a scene but didn’t have the guts (or perhaps were to wise) to say. Jeremy was a great character who sometimes dominated the story, leaving shy Alice Day in the backdrop much of the time.
*Possible ending spoiler: I enjoyed seeing Alice step up and being open about her feelings at the end… I just wish it didn’t take 18 months (or 2 years?) for them to get their act together. I have a pet hate for prolonged separations between the hero and heroine during the last leg of a story and in the case of Redstone Station I just didn’t see what purpose it served compared to a separation of say 6 months.*
Overall, I really enjoyed Redstone Station.An engaging rural tale that does a great job at highlighting the realities of life on a farm and living in a rural town with a satisfactory happy ending for the romance fans.
“I really liked this”
Redstone Station can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge: