Aussie Book Review: Currawong Creek by Jennifer Scoullar
My Rating: 4 / 5
Format: Paperback courtesy of Penguin Australia
Publication Date: 26 June 2013
Category: Adult and Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Imprint: Michael Joseph
Extent: 302 pages
“Brisbane lawyer Clare Mitchell has a structured, orderly life. That is, until she finds herself the unlikely guardian of a small, troubled boy. In desperation, Clare takes Jack to stay at Currawong Creek, her grandfather's horse stud in the foothills of the beautiful Bunya Mountains.
Here life moves at a different pace, and for Clare it feels like coming home. Her grandad adores having them there. Jack loves the animals. And Clare finds herself falling hard for the handsome local vet.
But trouble is coming. The Pyramid Mining Company threatens to destroy the land Clare loves – and with it, her newfound happiness.
Praise for Jennifer Scoullar's Brumby's Run:
'A lovely story of family and self-discovery, of love of the land and the wildlife that live on it.' 1 Girl . . . 2 Many Books
'Appealing characters set within in a magnificent landscape. If you devoured the The Silver Brumby series as a child or had a crush on Tom Burlinson, you are sure to love Brumby's Run.' Book'd Out
'Celebrates the country and, more importantly, the bush as a life-changing environment…A heart-thumping romance.' The Weekly Times”
Summary and Thoughts
When Brisbane-based legal aid lawyer Clare Mitchell is left “holding the baby” so to speak, in this case four year old Jack who has been deserted by his mother, Taylor, when she walks out of a consultation under the pretence of going for a cigarette, Clare’s life is thrown into turmoil.
After the Department of Human Services arranges for Jack to be placed in a Contingency Unit due to the lack of available foster carers and once Jack takes an instinctive dislike to everyone bar Clare, she makes an impulsive decision and offers her assistance, little knowing what’s ahead of her. Used to being single and living in a small apartment, both Clare and her apartment are ill-equipped for the shenanigans involved when it comes to the mischievous four-year-old Jack and Samson, the German Shepherd puppy she recently inherited from her deceased father.
As she tries to find an equal balance between work and life with Jack and his challenging behavioural issues which are a source of contention at the daycare he attends, she finds herself more often than not being reminded of Currawong Creek, her grandfather’s horse property in Merriang at the foot of the Bunya Mountains where her and her brother spent many happy hours as a children – until their mother walked out on them and their father decided to distance himself from that side of the family.
Things become a bit more complicated after her boss announces that her temporary care of Jack may need to be extended due to unforeseen circumstances and, at his suggestion that she take some leave, Clare takes a long hard look at her life. While she’s eager to rise up the ranks in a job that she is passionate about and, when an embarrassing event involving her barrister boyfriend Adam leaves her bristling, she makes the decision that the best thing for her, Jack and Samson is a tree change.
Making all the logistical arrangements with her grandfather, Clare finally finds herself at Currawong Creek and, for me, gets off to a hilarious start in her new life when she finds herself in a bit of a pickle after having climbed a tree as well as a tussle between the handsome Tom, the local vet, and a python.
Tom, although not fleshed out as much as Clare, is a very likeable character who clearly grows to love both Clare and Jack and, while there isn’t much in the way of personal conflict between them, I found this to be a somewhat refreshing change, with Jennifer Scoullar instead creating the two sources of conflict in the form of Taylor, Jack’s mother (along with the lack of placement options for children who have behavioural issues), and the fears facing our farmers in relation to the mining of coal seam gas.
Ms Scoullar’s love of the land, as well as her concern for the larger issues at hand, which are dealt with sensitively, truly shine through in her prose and having regard to the fact that I live in Toowoomba and have done a few trips to the Bunya Mountains myself, her sense of place is brought to life in her precise observations of the landscape, immediately allowing me to conjure up the majestic beauty of my part of the Darling Downs, as I envisaged Clare driving up the Range into Toowoomba and then on through the rural countryside which surrounds the Bunyas.
The incorporation of animal interaction, specifically equine therapy, also plays a role, but the landscape is central in all the characters’ lives, and I felt that I was in a living, breathing world sharing their experiences.
Told with warmth and humour, this is a story about family, the risks and rewards of selfless devotion and the powerful bonds we form with animals and the land.
I wish to thank Penguin Books for providing me with a paperback copy of this fine novel.
A Little About the Author (taken from Penguin Books Australia)
Jennifer has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Her house, which was left to her by her father, is on a hilltop overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash. She lives there with her family. A pair of old eagles live there too. Black-tailed wallabies graze by the creek. Eastern spinebills hover among the callistemon. Horses have always been her passion. She grew up on the books of Elyne Mitchell, and all her life she's ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian stock horses.