The Fine Colour of Rust by P.A O’Reilly
Loretta Boskovic never dreamed she would end up a single mother with two kids in a dusty Australian country town. She never imagined she’d have to campaign to save the local primary school. She certainly had no idea her best friend would turn out to be the crusty old junk man. All in all, she’s starting to wonder if she took a wrong turn somewhere. If only she could drop the kids at the orphanage and start over . . .
First Impressions: Oh, how fabulously Australian is this story! It’s not over the top in any way (which would make me cringe) but so much of the Aussie way of life is embedded in the story from the first sentence.
Highlights: The author vividly captures the Aussie environment – the dry landscape, the constant heat… It’s like I could even smell the air. So many of the finer plot points are quintessentially Australian, such as picking up coloured cardboard on the way home from school to do a project. The Aussie dark humour is threaded throughout too such as the Minister whose portfolio was Education, Elderly Care and Gaming. Although I was giggling my way through a lot of this novel, it’s more than just a comedy. It is a warm and very realistic story about a single mother (who happens to sensibly stock up on underwear in the Kmart sale) and her children, one of whom is starting to become an awkward adolescent. Finally, a surprise revealed very close to the end nicely brought the story to a close. I can’t say more.
If I was an editor: I would beg O’Reilly to put everything else in her life on hold and exclusively write novels! I really don’t have anything negative to say expect that I thought Loretta’s jokes about putting the kids in the orphanage are a bit mean as kids pick up on these things but really, she can be a brash character and surely everyone wants a break from looking after their kids (as lovely as their are)!
Overall: Warning – May make expats a little homesick!