Aussie Book Review: The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

“How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them?

When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.

The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.

Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.

A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.”

Well known international bestselling author Rachael Johns deviates slightly from her usual rural romance writing to bring us a story about sisterhood, sibling rivalry, love, relationships and those unbreakable bonds called family ties.

As with real life, these girls’ lives are anything but idyllic – Madeleine, the oldest and an obstetrician who lives in America is in love with a man who is engaged to another; Lucinda, a teacher in Perth feels that her marriage has reached a crossroads since she has failed to conceive a baby that her and her husband so desperately want; Charlie, the free-spirited sister who lives in Melbourne, has always felt different and can’t get past the fact that she’s not as successful as her sisters; and Abigail, the youngest, is a violinist in London who has, unbeknownst to the rest of her family, lost her job.

Giving us the year that follows that first Christmas without their mother, Rachael takes us on a journey into all their lives – the good, the bad and some ugly truths. Shifting the perspective between all four sisters, we see them try to console their father, rival one another and reflect on the paths their lives have taken. Emotions run high and the twists and turns in their relationships keep them on their toes, not to mention the fact that their father has decided that he wants to sell the family motel.

It is whilst going through their mother’s possessions that they find a notation mentioning a family curse that will be the catalyst for a lifelong secret to be revealed and will force the sisters to learn more about themselves, each other, their family as a whole, and love.

A popular rural romance author with myriads of fans, this latest takes Rachael Johns’ storytelling ability to new heights and is certainly going to earn her more avid fans. Readers will become so caught up in the lives of the four women and their respective dilemmas that they won’t be able to stop turning the pages to find out what happens next.

All four sisters are consistent characters throughout the story and hold their own in moving the plot forward. They are all interesting and Rachael has done a fine job of humanising them and allowing them to grow in their own way.

Of course, what would a Rachael Johns’ novel be without some romance! While the sisters’ personal journeys make up a large part of the story, they each have their own love troubles to offer as well. 

Even though the tone of the book is light and breezy, with Rachael’s signature humour embedded in the narrative, there are genuine real-life issues that they need to wade through such as bereavement, fertility issues, infidelity and unrequited love and, if there’s one thing this book asks us to consider, it’s that we should never take one another at face value because, most of the time, each of us is fighting an inner battle that nobody knows anything about – not even those closest to us.

I’m genuinely excited by the path that Rachael seems to have taken in her writing, calling it "contemporary life lit" and, while I love her rural romance novels, I cannot wait to see where she is going to take me next.

If you’re looking for a great summer read, I think you’ve just found it!

I wish to thank JAM PR for providing me with a hard copy for review.

About the Author

Rachael Johns’ success is a testament to her skill as a writer, but also to her ability to really connect with her readers.

A fiction writer since she was seventeen, Rachael was signed by Harlequin in an enviable five-book deal in 2014 and since then her sales in Australia have tripled and she is published internationally. 

The Patterson Girls is Rachael Johns’ seventh book with Harlequin.

Voted one of Booktopia’s Top Ten Favourite Australian authors after the publication of her first book Jilted, Rachael is a mum of three small boys, a supermarket worker by day and a bestselling writer by night.

She lives in a small town in Western Australia.


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