A journey which takes a woman from London to Australia in search of the truth about what really did happen when she was three and her mother was killed in a car crash
Despite the sun and warmth of Australia however, it’s during the dark moments where Amber really has to deal with. There are difficult decisions to be made – far from where ‘home’ is at the moment but then is home not wherethe heart is according to the saying?
Returning home after many years away can leave you with more problems that it solves. You can feel a stranger in your own country and in your own life.
The Other Side of the World
1960s – Moving from Cambridge, England to Perth Australia is a move between cities, climate and cultures. But problems have a way of making the same journey..
Charlotte struggles to remember who she was before she had a family. She loves her children and husband Robert but has forgotten what it is to be Charlotte – not just a mother and wife but Charlotte, who loves to paint.
Robert is also unhappy as when a chance to move to Australia comes his way, he grasps at this new opportunity of a a fresh start. Charlotte is too tired to argue and so their journey to the other side of the world begins..
Perth their new home is not paradise however as a new city,a new setting reveals the cracks and weaknesses life in Cambridge never did. Charlotte wonders if there is anywhere she will feel at home.
The Chocolate Apothecary
A Chocolate Shop in Evandale Tasmania? Chocolate tasting and cooking in France? You can practically eat this novel!
Evandale is a small town in Tasmania which really does exist yet sadly there is not (yet) a chocolate apothecary as featured in this novel. It is so real and vivid that you really expect it to exist and as you lick your fingers from the chocolate you’d had to buy to read this novel, you wonder why it doesn’t.
Silver trays weighed down with mugs of hot chocolate, mochas and pots of tea, apple pie and cream, chocolate fondants, chocolate-coated raspberries, chocolate brownies and pralines….
When you’re finished with Australian set books then why not head off somewhere else? The world of books is a big place and the possibilities of discovering something and someone new are never ending!
As the booktrail mantra is to discover locations and countries via #booktravel then what better on Australia Day than to capture the essence of the country via its fiction –
Let’s travel with Kate Morton, Tim Winton, ML Stedman and many more…
and see their Australia….
Kate Morton takes us to Brisbane in the Forgotten Garden, a tale of a lost little girl abandoned on a ship toAustralia,a missing writer known as the authoress and the secrets of an aristocratic family – all interwoven to provide a magical tale of hidden secrets and a mystery that has endured across the decades.
Within this book there is a book of fairytales which comes alive and which holds a special memory linking time and place – Cassandra remembers reading her stories on a hot Brisbane day. It’s these stories that transport you in this novel – to Cornwall and to the magic of writing, but it all starts in Brisbane…..
After crossing the Brisbane river,they bypassed the centre of town and drove through Paddington with its corrugated-iron toadstools cut into the hills
Nell lived in‘a wooden house on the hillside, with its peeling lemon-paint and overgrown garden, the neighbourhood cats that followed her everywhere…
Tamborine Mountain –
Granted there may not be much of the novel set in Australia but it is the backstory of one of the characters where we are taken back to the wonders of tambourine mountain where both she and the author herself grew up that really capture the imagination –
This is a story of wartime secrets and one secret in particular that has endured for decades that finally starts to unravel many years later.
Whipbirds cheered overhead, insects burred, the waterfall in Dead Man’s Gully chipped and chattered. Fragments of light and color jittered as she ran, kaleidoscopic.
No one else knew it but the creek was magic.
Then Vivien discovers some lights–And that was when she had noticed then, several of them or orange and twinkly, blinking at her from the very bottom of the pool.
And that’s when Vivien had realized: there was a hold in her creek that ran all the way to the other side of the world.
Childhood notions of there being a tunnel from Australia to the other side of the world reawakened here….this is evocative writing at its finest!
New South Wales –
This is the journey of a family of Brits at the turn of the 19th century as they are deported to Australia for crimes committed by the man of the house -William Thornhill
They are taken to theNew South Wales colony in what would become Australia. As they try to make this part of the world their home, they are soon forced to realize that tough measures are needed to survive even if it means unsettling those who who already claim the land.
Enter the world ofearly colonial Australia and get a sense of how difficult a life the early settlers had.
New South Wales had a life of its own now, beyond any intention that any man – the Governor, even the King himself- might have. It was a machine in which some men would be crushed up and spat out and others would rise to heights they had never dreamed of before.
Deemed to be one of Australia’s classic and during mysteries, the picnic at Hanging Rock is set deep in the Australian bush at the isolated and imposing Hanging Rock. It’s 1900, and a class of young women from an exclusive private school go on an excursion but their trip ends in tragedy when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish after climbing the rock. Only one girl returns, with no memory of what has become of the others . . .
The Rock is the main character in the book and has a haunting and bulky presence. It is the scene of the crime but reveals nothing, it is the danger that surrounds the girls, its the sheer size and imposing beauty of the Australian outback that hides tragedy….
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
In the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s, a light house keeper (Tom) and his wife (Isabel) find a life boat with a dead man and live baby in it wash up on their beach.
Isabel has suffered several miscarriages. Life is tough and lonely on Janus Rock. A baby would change things. Who would know if they passed the baby off as their own?
This places may indeed be fictional but they are clearly routed in theauthors imagination and based on real places . Janus for example isa place of solitude and reflection –
“On Janus there is no reason to speak. Tom can go for months and not hear his own voice. He knows some keepers who make a point of singing, just like turning over an engine to make sure it still works. But Tom finds a freedom in the silence. He listens to the wind. He observes the tiny details of life on the island”
The Pickle family have inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. The shared experiences of the two overpopulated and chaotic families join together in ways that non one could have expected.
As for Winton’s Perth –
Perth is the biggest county town in the world trying to be a city.
Lester pointed to the lights above Perth water where the city hung and the suburbs began their outward roll….
This is Perth, Western Australia, whose ambitions know no limits.
There is a lot more to discover about Australia but these are just some of the gems we’ve come across but there are so many more we could travel around Australia for ever and never leave. And when you realise the quality of the writers there, those who write about this place and those who showcase their country through their eyes, you may never want to leave….
Because the idea of a postcard starting a journey seems like a forgotten and lost art.
Story in a nutshell
On his death bed, Melissa Boyd’s father confesses a secret and a postcard that takes her on a journey across the world and into the past.
Caroline has led a privileged life brought up by her Aunt Phoebe. Caroline then falls in love and elopes to Cairo but things do not turn out well. Alone with a newborn son, the war breaks out and she is compelled to join up.
When she returns, her son has gone.
Place and setting
The story opens in Adelaide where Melissa’s father decides to come clean for the past and opens up about what a postcard means for the family.
Immediately we go back in time to Scotland and the fictional Dalradnor lodge which is somewhere near the Clyde River and the Campsie fells. It is a landscape of rugged hills, sheep, heather and rough winds but to Callie it is home. There’s Dundee jam jars and Fair isle jumpers too which evoke atmosphere. Let’s not forget a trip in to Glasgow and tea at the tea rooms in Sauchiehall street!
Cairo – Callie’s husband works as an advisor of the British government to the king of Egypt and as they live in various hotels and she is taken to the Khan el Khali souk and the Gezira club. Glittering and glamourous yet with a hollow heart in the dusty Egyptian desert.
War time London – A time where dances were held in the club 400 in Leicester square and where the Gaiety Girls were fun and happy. Caroline meets Toby here and they elope to Cairo but whilst in Londonthe fun of the season is had with dances, music halls and a tea in Patisserie Valerie’s which you should visit for real! – https://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/default.aspx
Mentions of Paris, Bruges and Brussels too – Marthe goes back to her homeland so we learn more of where she came from and see the interesting architecture of both places.
Wow – well what a story this turned out to be!! From the blurb and even the first few chapters I though this was going to be a nice if slightly heartbreaking tale of one woman’s search for the truth over a postcard. But her journey takes the reader over the world to different times and periods in history and right up until the onset of war. Epic would be a good word to use or cinematic and I could certainly imagine this on the big screen.
Melissa starts the story in the present day and then we get swept immediately back in time to meet Callie and Phoebe only returning to Melissa briefly later on. I really wanted to know Melissa better although getting to know the story of the other two women at the same time as she did, I did feel as if I was reading the letters etc as she was.
The most intriguing part of this novel was the way in which one secret can grow and grow to have so many consequences that it doesn’t even bare thinking about. Secrets in the past and in the present day which tie the women of the 1930s and the present day together.
The genius of this novel is the way in which a real story – and if you read the dedication at the front of the novel you will understand – and the tragedy behind it all. When you read this you feel as if The Postcard just hits the tip of the iceberg of what really lies beneath.
The depiction of the Second World War is fascinating and shows the extreme lengths that some women went to in order to help the war effort.
A fascinating and heartbreaking account of family struggles, lies and love.
Danny Kelly is a working class boy who attends a private school in Australia on a swimming scholarship.
He’s not a popular nor likable character and is bullied. Danny however has dreams and wants to be the best swimmer there is and eventually go on to win a medal– Gold if possible – at the Olympics. That will show the bullies he thinks to himself.
However when he tries for the Australian Swimming Championship he misses out on a place for the Olympic team and to say he is upset is an understatement.
Life goes downhill from that moment onwards.
Danny is a character I found hard to like. As many teenagers can be, he is somewhat self-obsessed and when he fails to get a place in the Olympic squad, he becomes worse.
Having said that Danny shows us what it is like to go through all those struggles whilst suffering bullying, violence and shame. Danny for me had potential but one failure led to him making some decisions which made his life all the more unbearable.
Danny seems confused and troubled and his life was revealed in this way too – events aren’t in order and the places and settings dot around in a way that a teenager boy’s thoughts probably do. Not easy to read at times – sometimes the settings and dates aren’t even mentioned at the start of chapters which did add to the confusion slightly. Danny is also known by several different names and nicknames – another sign of the boy’s inner confusedthoughts?
The thread throughout the book– you know at the beginning that Danny has a secret – something is to be revealed that will explain things….or will it? It’s not revealed until much later on.
As you might expect, there is some graphic and offensive words in the book and it slaps you in the face at times.Again, it makes you react to the book’s subject. Right from the start too – so if you are offended, be warned.
What it leaves behind however are the memories of the joy of swimming (which I know nothing about) and the joy of reading (which I totally agree with)
And the dream of one boy to swim in the Olympic Games…
Well today is a momentous day at the Booktrail for none other than The Tealady (her words not mine) has popped by to say hello and to deliver a lovely heartwarming selection of teas. Josephine Moon is being looked after by the booktrailer today and is going to talk tea, books and of course cake – I mean she has written the most perfect book for our Cuppa and a Cake feature! So to celebrate this, I’m taking her out to a lovely old fashioned local tea shop –
Hi Josephine, Well I can’t tell you how pleased I am to welcome you to the booktrail tea trail…today venturing out of Booktrail towers to a tea experience with a difference. (Eeh I hope Josephine is impressed, I mean she knows everything there is to know about tea after all)
So this is what we ordered for our chat –
Hi Josephine. I’ve ordered some extra cream for the scones. Exscuse the silver teapots, there’s not the kind you would stock in the Tea Chest I know but the tea is still fabulous. Before you go back to Australia mind, you have to take some British Tea back with you….. I prefer the more exotic blends and scenty teas myself and love Rose tea….aaaaah
So, I have so many things I want to ask you…….
Did you visit a shop that inspired you for The Tea chest and if so where can we find it?
One day, I was wandering through a tea shop in Brisbane, called T2, (around 2007), inhaling aromas and shaking bowls of tea, and I thought, ‘What an awesome job! Who gets to design all these teas?’ And with that, the character of Kate Fullerton, lead tea designer at The Tea Chest, arrived. T2 also has stores in New Zealand and one in Shoreditch, London. www.t2tea.com
What tea would you recommend whilst reading about the Tea Chest?
Too many great ones to choose from! Chai is my favourite ‘go to’ tea for all occasions (and there are so many varieties), but I’m also a big fan of floral and fruit tisanes. I hope, more than anything, that The Tea Chest inspires you to try different teas outside of your familiar range and maybe even to have a go at growing some of your own ingredients and making your own from fresh produce.
What is it about the art of tea drinking that inspires you so much? Do you have collections of old tea cups? Have you experienced a Japanese tea ceremony for example?
I am a mad tea woman. I just love tea, teapots, tea rituals, high teas, doilies, silver spoons and teeny tiny cakes. I actually haven’t experienced a Japanese tea ceremony though it sounds absolutely delightful.
I was always a meditator, but since having my son two years ago, I’ve found it really difficult to get back into. But I have often found great solace in a moment of meditation during the process of making a pot of tea and pouring the tea, taking care and time and attention, rather than just throwing a tea bag into a cup. I prefer it when tea is an experience, rather than a functional drink. And some days, that’s the only piece of quiet time I get.
You are having tea and cake with the booktrailer today. Who would you invite to the ultimate tea and cake party? Which tea would you serve?
I would invite Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, because they both seem so very lovely and grounded and with a good sense of humour and deep humanity. (I would be completely fumbling and klutzy and undoubtedly say something stupid or inappropriate but I believe they’d both forgive me, sweet souls that they are.)
Tea is hugely popular in France – there was a tea called Elephant tea which to my sheer relief was a brand rather than a flavour! What is the most bizarre mix of tea you have come across?
I’ve read about Maple Bacon tea. I could handle the maple, but the bacon? Blah!
(the booktrailer would so try that – it sounds quite nice – different but nice)
Why did you choose the locations in London – the Kings Road as the location for The Tea Chest?
I have been to London but only for a week and I wasn’t looking at it as a place to set a story at that time. But I have a good friend, Kathleen, who lived in London for ten years, and my sister, Amanda, lived there for two years, so I consulted with them both about locations. I described my characters to my sister and she helped me find them homes in the city. And Kathleen spent a lot of time helping me narrow down options for the store itself. In the first draft, I had the store in Portobello Road. But I just wasn’t happy with the feel of it. I wanted the store to be super gorgeous, and I also wanted to put a lot of pressure (including financial) on my character, Kate, to make the store succeed and I loved the area of Chelsea so Kings Road just appealed for many of those reasons. It did mean I had a lot of work to do between the first and second draft to move the store, but it was worth it.
You were born and raised in Brisbane. What is the Australian tea scene like?
In my corner of the country, I’m very pleased to see a big shift to loose leaf teas being offered in cafes rather than soaking a teabag in a stainless steel pot and calling that a ‘pot of tea’ (though I’m sad to say, it still happens). I’m still struggling to find a really good high tea, and even good hotels offer high teas that may have wonderful food, but lack any real ceremony, beauty or ‘specialness’ about them. I went to a lot of high teas as (bonafide!) research for this book and I was disappointed over and over.
I’m just speculating here, but I’d say that in terms of buying coffee and tea off the shelf in a supermarket, the uptake would be about the same. But, in terms of the cafe culture, and takeaway food culture, coffee rules. But there is definitely a growing tea culture and I’m proud to think that The Tea Chest might be a part of that. Certainly lots of people have left me messages saying they’re not normally tea drinkers but after reading the book they’re suddenly craving tea 🙂
What are you reading at the moment?
My second foodie fiction novel, The Chocolate Apothecary, is ‘marinating’ at the moment (so I’m not looking at it for an extended period of time). So right now, I’m in research mode for my third foodie fiction novel, and I’m reading many different texts and blogs and websites and magazines to do with that topic. It’s too early to share what it’s about though, so hopefully we can chat again a bit further down the track 🙂
Sure we can! I have another amazing tea place I’d love to take you to. It’s just fantastic but that is for next time…….
Thanks Josephine ..here I’ve bought you a selection of British teas to take back with you. Aah that’s no problem, you’re welcome. Ooh what’s this? A pressie for me? A gorgeous tea pot to brew the leaves properly in. Yes I do need one of those so thank you. I can now have a brew in a fancy pot instead of my chipped china one so cuppa and cake in the future will be a much posher affair! Whoo hoo
Cheers Josephine! Now then should we head back to Booktrail towers and I’lll put the kettle on and I can christen this new tea pot!
Can an Australian ever hope to run a successful tea shop deep in the heart of London?
Kate Fullerton, certainly hopes so.
For Kate is a talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest in Chelsea, London. She could never have imagined that she’d be flying half way around the world from Brisbane in order to save the business from closure. But as she embarks on this personal mission, she is risking more personal issues at home.
Then she meets Leila and Elizabeth – two women with issues of their own and their stories are about to combine in ways that blend each of the characters together like a good cup of tea.
The Tea Chest is a business and these women have enough personal issues without the added stress of a business. Mix in with that, someone who is blatantly trying to derail the entire process, some riots and a few other ‘incidents’ besides and this novel has more spice that your average Masala chai!
The TeaChest –
This is a lovely project I thought – imagine opening up your very own tea shop – especially if it was like this!
Kate had been busy with personal consultations for individual tea blends.
Elizabeth had gone for a peppermint- chocolate chai. She’d even found a min-green and chocolate -brown vintage dress….
Leila had decide on a vanilla and marshmallow chai, with wee pieces of marshmallow included.
Aah, well I immediately went and put the kettle on –
The Cover – to evoke setting –
Even before you open up this book, the cover is a treat in itself – bunting, yellow wooden panelled walls and the most gorgeous tea cups and tea pot you could ever imagine.
Now this book not only came delivered by the ever smiley postman ever, but it came wrapped in the most gorgeous tea towel with a tea bag inside!
Don’t think that this book is light and fluffy chick lit- far from it although it is charming and funny in many parts, this is a novel and the trials and tribulations of friendship as well as being an enchanting and witty novel about the unexpected ways in which love and friendship can see us through life.
It is written with a lot of heart and with both sugar and spice each page infused with rose, camomile and other tea combinations.
The story is as unique as the tea blends it showcases –
A debut taster for the joys of more evocative writing to come! And don’t miss the tea recipes and tips at the back of the book – for the best tea tasting tips from Josephine herself. Sit back, taste and enjoy!
Oh we are very lucky indeed to have the lovely Lucy Clarke on the blog today! She’s taken time out from travelling and has invited me to visit her on her lovely beach. So, we’ve actually taking the whole affair outside today – well its a bit hot inside and well when Lucy told me about her secret beach I jumped at the chance! So here we are….. it was a bit hard carrying the tray and cake on the sand but we’ve managed it. She’s just getting settled – oh what’s that you’ve brought Lucy? Some shortbread for later? Why thank you very much indeed. That will go down well. There’s plenty of tea in the pot so, can you just flatten that rug out a bit please? Don’t want to spill the tea. Thanks
Thanks for inviting me to this gorgeous beach Lucy, I know how busy you must be. Tell you what, I’m dying to chat to you about your travels. I can’t tell you how much I’d like to try freediving and really see those sea dragons for real. It must have been quite the experience. I am an avid traveller myself so your descriptions and the details you pick up on are definitely those of someone who is fascinated with surroundings! How do you feel the location of Tasmania enhanced your story?
Thank you! I spent two months in Tasmania researching for the novel, and I fell in love with the wild, frontier feel of the land. I thought it would be a wonderful place to send Eva on her journey as it’s so remote and rugged, and provides a contrast to her previous life in London and the person she’d become.
I admit to never having heard of freediving or sea dragons and have since read more about both! How does it feel to be able to weave such fantastic experiences through your fiction?
That’s wonderful to hear! I often choose to include topics that I’m personally interested in – but know little about – so that I can enjoy learning something new myself. During my research in Tasmania I learnt to scuba dive, which gave me a beautiful insight into the underwater world, and helped me write the freediving scenes within the novel.
A Single Breath brings together so many things that can result from telling one lie or keeping one secret. Discovering them at the same time as Eva was effective as was your use of Jackson’s diary entries. What gave you the idea to use this plot device?
I wanted to give Jackson a ‘voice’, as without one I was concerned that readers would lack empathy with him. Through the Jackson’s interludes, I hope you start to understand the motivation behind his lies. It was actually something that I added in quite late into the novel, and now I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before!
Do you think everyone needs their own shack like Saul?
Yes, I do! We all need a special place we can escape to and recentre. My bolt hole is actually a beach hut on the south coast of England where I do much of my writing. I love being near the water when I write, and I also love that feeling of space and quiet: no emails, no phone calls, just the sea and my notebook. Heaven!
I believe you went travelling for two months for your research for this novel. Where did you go and what do you recommend people visit or see?
I travelled all over Tasmania, which is a relatively small island (you can drive from one end to the other in a day), but the highlight for me was Bruny Island, which inspired the setting of my novel. It’s beautiful, wild, empty and the beaches and underwater life are out of this world.
I believe travel, reading and writing go together and compliment each other really well. Which other country will you write about or go to next?
My third novel is set in the Philippines, so I spent part of this winter researching there. I’m not yet sure where my fourth novel will be set, but my wish list is ever-growing, and includes India, Africa, and Central America – so maybe one of those?!
We move into Lucy’s seaside shack at this point as she has a globe and some diaries to show me. I want to live here. Think I might try to hide behind the nearby sand dunes and then creep back in later tonight. A globe, a seaside shack, a bench,a rug, notebooks, books, the sea….I mean what is not to love?
I leave Lucy pondering the globe at this point as I wander into the little kitchen and start clearing away the tea things. Looking out of the window in a wistful way, I can’t help but feel a little bit envious of Lucy jetting off to Tasmania and all those other wonderful places. But isn’t that why travelling through novels is so much fun! I’d never seen a sea dragon until now nor did I know anything about Bruny Island and the idea of having a shack to escape from it all.
I am so excited about going to the Philippines. Can not wait. So then Lucy, can I come back and see more photos of your travels I hope? Yes? Well then I’ll provide the tea and cake and the sandbreakers…
Thanks to Lucy Clarke for chatting over a cuppa and a cake today. Once we’ve finished nattering over this globe and plotting where we’d like to go next, she’ll be back on http://www.lucy-clarke.com/ before you know it.
Thanks to Lucy too for allowing me to use these pictures today. And for talking about her travels.
Thursday’s trip on the Quick Reads booktrail sees a journey of many miles all the way from Paris to the Australian outback. And it definitely didn’t take the usual 24 hours or so it would take by travelling by plane. No, on a booktrail, you travel with a book, all from the comfort of your armchair….
A story perfect for the day before Valentines…
Love is Blind
Jane decides to move to the Australian outback in search of a husband but her sister Anthea thinks she’s mad.
But Jane has always felt inferior to her sister as Anthea is slim, pretty, has a perfect life, a perfect house and a perfect fiance.
So Jane goes off in search of someone special. Anthea goes after her to save her from ‘this madness’
Do you have any idea what kind of men live in the outback? Criminals and misfits.’
But is it Anthea who is going to be the one who has the adventure?
They certainly have fun and mishaps when exploring when they find themselves in some sort of bush fire –
a sound like a gunshot cracked through the air, making her jump. What is it now? she wailed.
Gum nuts. It’s the eucalyptus oil in the trees Makes them explode.
The outback has a lasting impression on both of them though. One nice observation in particular likened the stillness of the outback to ‘a theatre audience hushed in anticipation’
A quirky book with a quirky tale but one perfect for Valentine’s Day in a setting that is not your usual valentine backdrop.
This year we have read some fantastic books and been to some fantastic places so here is our top ten in no particular order to inspire you to travel – via your armchair this Christmas season –
So, there you have it, our top ten books this year. We’d love to hear yours and we do actually have loads more except we couldnt fit them all in. How do you pick only ten? Well based on location and atmosphere, these ten really did pack some punch. And well because I had to include this one –
Well, I guess that makes it 11 – well we best stop there otherwise we’d be here all night adding all our favs. Tomorrow we chose one that has both surprised and amazed us in equal measure. An imaginary location but one which we would love to go back to very very soon…….