An outstanding historical novel about women and the secrets and burdens they carry. Mary-Lou Stephens’ debut is an impressive feat of storytelling, making her a name to watch.
One of the most beautifully written books I’ve read.
Tania Blanchard, bestselling author of The Girl From Munich
The fire took everything – except two women’s fighting spirits. A sweeping, big-hearted Australian family saga for readers of Judy Nunn and Victoria Purman.
7 February, 1967. Walls of flame reduce much of Tasmania to ash.
Young schoolteacher Catherine Turner rushes to the Huon Valley to find her family’s apple orchard destroyed, her childhood home in ruins and her brother dead. Despite her father’s declaration that a woman will never run the orchard, Catherine resolves to rebuild the family business.
After five sons, Catherine’s friend and neighbour, Annie Pearson, is overjoyed by the birth of a much longed for daughter. As Annie and her husband Dave work to repair the damage to their orchard, Dave’s friend Mark pitches in, despite the fact that Annie wants him gone. Mark has moved his family to the valley to escape his life in Melbourne, but his wife has disappeared leaving chaos in her wake and their young son Charlie in Mark’s care.
Catherine becomes fond of Charlie, whose strange upbringing has left him shy and withdrawn. However, the growing friendship between Mark and Catherine not only scandalises the small community but threatens a secret Annie is desperate to keep hidden.
Through natural disasters, personal calamities and the devastating collapse of the apple industry, Catherine, Annie and those they love battle to save their livelihoods, their families and their secrets.