Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer
Paperback, 1 November 2016
Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster
Synopsis- Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancé in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.
Hoping to ground herself and find answers, Lucy settles into once familiar routines. But old tortured feelings flood Lucy’s existence when her beloved father, Ron, is hospitalised and Morgan – the man who drove her away all those years ago – seeks her out.
Worse, Ron implores Lucy to visit Bitterwood Estate, the crumbling historic family guesthouse now left to him. He needs Lucy to find something– an old photograph album, the very thing that drove Ron and his father apart.
Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood, darkness that has plagued her dreams since she was young. But as Lucy searches for the album, the house begins to give up its ghosts and she is driven to put them to rest.
And there, held tightly between the house, the orchard and the soaring cliffs, Lucy uncovers a long-hidden secret that shattered a family’s bond and kept a frightened young girl in its thrall … and Lucy discovers just how fierce the lonely heart can be.
Review- Beyond the Orchard is the third novel published by Australian author Anna Romer and she’s certainly settled herself into a niche genre. Her novels are character driven, time often moves between the past and present, and there’s intrigue, mystery and suspense. Oh and romance, did I mention that? All the components of a great novel and her latest story does not disappoint.
Of all her books, Beyond the Orchard probably took the longest for me to really get into it- probably by about the halfway mark and I think this was primarily because I didn’t feel that connected to the protagonist, Lucy. Twenty-something Lucy Briar returns to Australia from her hiatus in London hoping to find answers to her past and move on from the memories that haunt her so she can get married and stay in London. However, life has other plans and when she returns home and discovers that not only her grandfather has died (along with her plans to understand her past), but her father is on the verge of another breakdown and her carefully suppressed feelings for teenage crush Morgan (her best friend’s father) is quickly reignited, she realises she’s travelled home with a lot more baggage than she first anticipated.
While sorting through her grandfather’s belongings at the eerie Bitterwood Estate she stumbles across photographs and further evidence that reveal generational secrets, betrayals and tragedies. Lucy must choose whether to flee and keep her emotions close to her heart, or put everything on the line to truly understand who she is and where she’s come from in order to find a way to move forward and find true love.
As the story progressed I did start to warm to Lucy, her avoidant behaviour was replaced with a determination to find the truth about her family, which enables her to begin to face the truths about her own character and the relationships she’s formed since her childhood. The story moves back and forth between the early 1900’s to replay the origins of her grandfather Edwin’s downfall and back to the present moment as Lucy investigates her family history with the help of her accomplice, Morgan. They are an unconventional couple but I felt the author set up their backstory well and showcased the deep connection they had for one another so that the age gap didn’t seem to matter so much.
The pace picks up near the end and the suspense carried me through to finish the last part of the book quite quickly. All in all, i’d really recommend this read!
“I really liked this book”
Beyond the Orchard can be pre-ordered from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
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This book was read as part of the AWW2016 reading challenge: