I found Cora’s character to be well-developed and extremely strong, quite capably managing to raise my hackles! I really did not like her, but as the story progressed, Nicole Alexander managed to draw on my sympathy towards the young girl that Cora once was and the heartbreaking events which took place at the hands of her step-sister, leading her to Jack and Absolution Creek and ultimately the life she was meant to live. And, although I like to think of myself as quite a forgiving person, believing that “hate” is a strong word, I did feel that Cora’s bitterness and caustic treatment of her step-sister was rather well-deserved, due to the heartbreak she experienced and the life and family she could never regain.
I enjoyed Jack’s character and whilst I felt he was a bit shallow at times in his treatment of Olive, a girl he was supposedly in love with, he was rather focused on the job he had been employed to do, and totally redeemed himself in my eyes with his treatment of and loyalty to Squib.
Olive’s character, of course, appears to be typical of that time period with her coming across as particularly needy and weak – but maybe that too has something to do with the cards that life dealt her!
The culmination of events which unfold in the last quarter of the book including the revelations made by “Scrubber” all add to the mystery surrounding Cora’s “inheritance” of Absolution Creek. Of course, the revelation of “Scrubber’s” true identity came as a shock to me as, throughout most of the book, I had difficulty keeping up with his character and trying to tie him in to the story. His final revelation to the reader will astound you and make you wonder if he truly realised the consequences his initial action would have on so many people’s lives.
Whilst Cora doesn’t get to hear the “whole” truth, thankfully with the third person narrative, we as reader get to learn the full story!
All in all, I found this to be a well-structured story with a very satisfying climax resulting in a plot where all the elements of love, betrayal, hatred, deception, jealousy and redemption are strongly entwined.
This is a fairly lengthy book and the first that I have read by Nicole Alexander. Although I really struggled with it due to the number of characters the author introduces, the alternating time periods of 1923 and 1965 and trying to tie all the characters together, I will most definitely read more from her.
The historical facts are fascinating – perhaps because I have only lived here for 4 years and am still learning a lot about my adopted country – but perhaps too because my former homeland (South Africa) and Australia share a history rich in colonialism and a landscape equally diverse. Being a fourth generation grazier, Nicole Alexander knows the land, and her vivid representations of the outback have me wanting to carry out one of my dreams – to visit Outback Australia and be present on a stock muster! Needless to say, I can still smell the dust!