Aussie Book Review: The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer

The Sunnyvale Girls The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer


Review copy provided by publisher

Penguin Australia, September 2014

 Synopsis- Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

Review- I’ve enjoyed every Fiona Palmer book I’ve read, and when I discovered she’d written a story partly set in rural Australia and partly set in Italy I was downright intrigued! How was she going to weave two of my favourite settings while staying true to the down to earth and hardworking country folk that’s representative of her writing style.  Well, somehow she nailed it!

The Sunnyvale Girls are Felicity (aka Flick), her mum Antonia (Toni) and grandmother Maggie, three generations of strong women working and living on Sunnyvale Farm in outback Western Australia.

At twenty, Flick hasn’t had much luck with men. She’s so preoccupied with the farm that her breakup with Chad hardly even registers.

In her early fifties, single-mum Toni’s whole life revolves around her daughter Flick and the family farm. She feels she’s missed the boat for love and despite the romantic hints she’s been getting from hunky colleague Jimmy, it’d take a hell of a lot for her to let down her guard. Though Jimmy, ten years her junior- is up for the challenge.

Grandmother Maggie, mourns the loss of her first true love- an Italian prisoner of war who was shipped back home before they had the opportunity to make a life together.

When Maggie drops a bombshell at a family dinner, Flick and Toni’s lives are changed forever. Flick, young and full of energy, inspires her mother to see a connection with her biological father and together they travel to Italy for a new, scary and altogether exciting adventure- only to find that the answers they seek were on their doorstep all along. In Italy, Flick finds love and Toni learns to let love in… and forgive her mother.

I really loved this story. I wasn’t sure how I’d find a connection with each of the women in the book, but despite the difference in age between myself as a reader and the women in the book I could connect with each of their experiences of loss, love, hurt and adventure. I loved the two settings and the way in which Palmer stayed true to her writing niche. Having recently visited Italy myself, I really enjoyed seeing how Toni and Flick adapted to the new environment and was open to what new experiences came their way.

Highly recommended!

Overall Rating



The Sunnyvale Girls can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2014 challenge:



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