Aussie Book Review: Crimson Dawn by Fleur McDonald

Crimson DawnCrimson Dawn by Fleur McDonald


Review copy provided by publisher

Allen & Unwin, April 2014

Synopsis- Laura Murphy will need to call on all her grit and determination to retain her beloved farm… But will her fierce self reliance close her off to the possibility of love?

Since inheriting Nambina, the property that’s been in her family for generations, Laura Murphy has worked wonders. Rather than just focus on farming she has set up a successful school, teaching women the basics of managing a property – from fencing and mustering to handling the financial side of the business.

But the notoriously self-reliant Laura is lonely and still scarred by a tragedy from her past. She’s also grappling with the hostility of her nearest neighbour and former best friend, Meghan Hunter. The fact that Laura’s ex-boyfriend Josh is Meghan’s brother only makes things worse.

When a solicitor contacts Laura saying his clients may have a claim over Nambina, her entire world is turned upside down, and she has to call on all her determination to hold on to the property she’s worked so hard to build. In the process she realises she must reach out to friends and loved ones or risk losing everything.

By the bestselling author of Red Dust, this inspirational novel celebrates strength in the face of adversity as well as the enriching power of love.

Review- In Crimson Dawn, Fleur McDonald ambitiously explores many big topics including perinatal loss, domestic violence, drug addiction, sex parties as well as the psychological experiences of loss, trust, love and survival. There were some areas that McDonald did well and some not so well.

Laura inherits her family farm, Nambina and works hard to build it up and begin a jillaroo school for budding female farmers. She throws herself into her work when her relationship with boyfriend Josh Hunter breaks down in the context of a miscarriage and then she also loses her best friend Meghan (Josh’s sister) who becomes very nasty toward her. Their bitterness and hatred wasn’t completely believable in my opinion as it lasted for nearly a decade and it’s all based on one misunderstanding that no one bothered to try and sort out.

However, it wasn’t the plot that I had the main issue with; it was the protagonist, Laura Murphy. Her passivity throughout the novel which spans eight years was completely frustrating and I really felt that her emotionality was severely lacking. I struggled to relate to her and believe that she was a real character. I just wanted her to snap, to yell, and to fight. But she was just too nice, she weighed up every decision by rationalising and talking to other people about them and for me as a reader, I just found her boring. I think that was the problem, there was too much focus on her thoughts and not enough on her emotions which meant I just couldn’t connect with her or become absorbed in her experience.

In terms of Laura’s role on the farm, her strength and determination to follow what she loves is admirable and perhaps this should have been the main focus of the story. Overall, I really struggled to get through this novel and wanted to like it more than I did.

 Overall Rating


“Wasn’t really for me”

Crimson Dawn can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2014 challenge:



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