Title: River Run
Author: Nicole Alexander
Publisher: 29 August 2016 by Random House Australia
Pages: 387 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, historical fiction, Australia
My Rating: 4 crowns
Taking place over just one week, River Run is an unputdownable rural drama from the bestselling author of The Bark Cutters and Wild Lands.
It is January 1951, and after a year away Eleanor Webber has returned home to River Run, her family's sprawling sheep property in western New South Wales. Fleeing a failed love affair back in Sydney, she hopes for some time and space to heal. But with shearing of over 25,000 sheep about to commence, and the infamous and moneyed Margaret Winslow and her husband Keith staying in the main house as her mother's guests, that dream is quickly dashed.
More worryingly, her half-brother Robbie is increasingly running wild, playing tricks on his governess, antagonising the jackeroos and obsessing about a communist invasion. Though only eleven, Robbie has appointed himself guardian of the property and, in his treehouse by the river, he readies for an imminent attack. Armed with a gun.
Then, with a storm looming and tensions rising in the shearing shed, a mysterious stranger appears on the horizon.
And in one disastrous moment young Robbie entangles Eleanor in a situation that will have serious repercussions for every member of the Webber family.
I am fast becoming a fan of Aussie author Nicole Alexander and 'River Run' provides another compelling historical tale which had me engaged throughout. Her last book, 'Wild Lands' was outstanding and this follow up, whilst not as captivating did not disappoint. There is intrigue, an interesting twist, a little romance and loads of 'Aussie-ness'.
"Across a country marked by fire and drought, rootless drovers and torrential rain, war-made swagmen and blacks on walkabout. This was a big land."
Alexander provides great Australian drama inspired by her own upbringing and family history. This particular tale is set on a family's sheep station in the middle of the Australian Outback. I loved that this book was placed in the 1950s - an era I am not particularly familiar with. It's a time when not only is Australia 'riding on the sheep's back', but when the glorious rich squatter days are under threat from possible strikes in the height of the shearing season. The side story of 'invading communists' sheds light on what, at the time, was seen as a real threat.
"No, the bush makes a man think too much. If he's a loner and a dreamer, well, a man can get messed up in his own thoughts."
With Alexander's eloquent prose, 'River Run' paints a picture of Australia during this period of time. The fall out from the second World War was still being felt, especially with the complete physical and emotional baggage returning soldiers carried. Alexander also undertakes a reflection on the changing status for the women and their role both in society and in the home. Then there is the harshness of the great Australian outback, once again powerfully portrayed by Alexander and the havoc Mother Nature brings - everything from heatwaves to punishing storms. No stone is left unturned as a range of issues are touched upon - class wars and a touch of the indigenous. I loved reading how the author drew on her own family historical experiences to bring a real authenticity to the story that is' River Run'.
Once again Alexander reminds us of how she is cementing herself at the heart of Australian literature with characters and a narrative that will take you back to one exceptional week in the 1950s.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release