Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley
Penguin Random House, Australia
May, 2017 (Review copy from publisher)
Dear Banjo is a newly released rural romance novel by Australian Author, Sasha Wasley. When I sat down to write this review, I actually thought this book was the author’s debut novel, but after a little research I found that it was far from her first. Sasha also writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels under S.D. Wasley. Dear Banjo appears to be a departure from the books she already has under her belt and after reading this book I’m convinced she’s made her mark in this genre.
In a nutshell, this is a story about best friends who cross the boundaries of friendship and where timing is everything. When Tom Forrest declares his love to best friend Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson it costs them both a lifelong friendship. Willow flees to University and cuts off all ties from her best mate, even though he lives next door to her family farm. When her father takes ill, she returns home after ten years to run the farm and transition it into an organic farming business like she’s always dreamt of. It’s not until she’s faced with the reality of the heartache she caused Tom all those years ago that she realises she has to face the past, her fears and find the strength to be vulnerable by opening her heart again save their friendship.
I have to admit, I didn’t really like Banjo all that much for the first 100 pages or so of the book. I felt angry at her for being so dismissive of Tom’s feelings and their friendship based on one moment. She seemed completely oblivious to how much she’d hurt him and hoped they could just get on working in adjacent farms as though nothing had ever gone wrong. I also felt annoyed that she never read all of the letters he sent her. As the story progressed, and the backstory unfolded along with her motivations behind her actions, I did begin to understand her, even if I didn’t agree with her responses. Willow is a stubborn character and i just couldn’t believe she wouldn’t have read those letters! I know it was essential to the conflict of the story, but i am easily frustrated by stories where the characters could just talk to each other and all their troubles would disappear! Would make a boring book though, i admit 🙂
Anyway, Tom is a very likeable (and forgiving) hero in the story. He never lets her down and he provides the security and safety she needs to work on the emotional difficulties that interfere with her personal relationships. Tom was the reason why I pushed through the first quarter of the book.
Even if it did take some time to warm to Willow, it probably comes as no surprise that the story did evoke a lot of emotion for me- both positive and negative- and I found it a compelling read. I wanted to know what happened next and obviously, I wanted Willow and Tom to have a happily-ever-after. A great read for fans of the rural romance sub-genre.
This book was read as part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.