Publication Date: 4th September 2012 (1st published 1st Feb 2012)
Book Source: Simon & Schuster & NetGalley
Synopsis: Set in the Australian bush, a wryly funny, beautifully observed novel about friendship, motherhood, love, and the importance of fighting for things that matter. 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 . . . But now, thanks to her protest letters, the education minister is coming to Gunapan, and she has to convince him to change his mind about the school closure. And as if facing down the government isn’t enough, it soon becomes clear that the school isn’t the only local spot in trouble. In the drought-stricken bushland on the outskirts of town, a luxury resort development is about to siphon off a newly discovered springwater supply. No one seems to know anything, no one seems to care.
With a dream lover on a Harley unlikely to appear to save the day, Loretta needs to stir the citizens of Gunapan to action. She may be short of money, influence, and a fully functioning car, but she has good friends. Together they can organize chocolate drives, supermarket sausage sizzles, a tour of the local slaughterhouse—whatever it takes to hold on to the scrap of world that is home. Warm, moving, and funny, The Fine Color of Rust is “a story about love: where we look for it, what we do with it, and how it shows up in the most unexpected packages”
Set in the small Australian town of Gunapan, The Fine Colour Of Rust showcases universal themes of life, motherhood, community, friendship and social injustice with distinct Aussie flavour.
After a 'meh' start ... not sure what was going on there, maybe just my mood, O'Reilly's wry observations and dry humour won me over and I quickly became immersed in the heat and dust of Gunapan, charmed by the town's population.
My grandparents lived in rural NSW in a small town very similar to Gunapan. Reading The Fine Colour Of Rust I felt like I'd been transported back there; heat shimmering, the smell of dust, the genuine sense of community, the care and compassion, the sometimes small town narrow-mindedness, everyone knowing your business unless you guarded it close. With unique turn of phrase and sparse but vivid descriptions, Paddy O'Reilly captures the essence of a struggling rural town.
You can't help but love the characters -
Loretta, self-depracating, single mother of two and town champion of seemingly lost causes. She's a self professed 'old scrag' and a strident voice in the fight to save the local school and viability of the town. Her sarcasm and wicked sense of humour gave me many laugh out loud moments.
Norm, the old fella that owns the local junkyard is as dry and crusty as the landscape but has a heart of gold. He's a man of few but wise words and Loretta's dearest friend, the type of friend who drops off two goats, Terror and Panic when you're in desperate need of a lawn mower.
Helen, Loretta's girlfriend had me grinning from ear to ear in this conversation between the two of them after Loretta's deadbeat husband returns briefly to Gunapan with his new partner.
"Do you want me to follow him, find out what he's doing?"
I shake my head.
"Do you want me to kill him?"
I nod. Then laugh a little. "And trash the CRX. Have you got any idea how much money he spent on that car?"
I kind of guessed when I saw him licking the trim one time."
A delightful combination of dry wit, warmth and tenderness has me recommending The Fine Colour Of Rust without hesitation but if you need further convincing pop over to Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out ... her beautifully worded review brought The Fine Colour Of Rust to my attention and had me yearning to read it.
Visit Paddy O'Reilly's website to find out more about the author and her work.