Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Bracelet by J.J. Sheahan

Genre: Contemporary/Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 6th January 2014
Pages: 351
Book Source: courtesy of author 

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Katelyn thinks she has escaped her past and is chasing her dreams in the opal mines of outback Queensland until she is wrenched home to the tightly knit, Snowy Mountains community where she grew up.  At home, Kate’s frail but feisty great-grandmother is now alone, and Kate must decide whether to face her responsibilities and the ghosts of her teenage years.

Everyone in the district knows Gran, and most remember Kate as the pretty, dark-skinned girl with a dead father and scary temper who left town abruptly at fifteen.
Kate seeks solace in a family heirloom – a bracelet. Beautifully crafted, it was won in an outback horse race and has been handed down the generations, from mother to daughter on the young woman’s wedding day. Gran is determined that Kate should know the adults-only stories of the women who have worn it, but Kate has little time for history. She is too busy surviving the turmoil of the present.
This is a tale about strong women across six generations of an Australian family and the heirloom that links them together. It is about embracing the reality beyond romance.
My Thoughts: 
The Bracelet is a sweeping tale following generations of strong women in an Australian family, their loves and losses and the passage of their heirloom bracelet. 

J.J. Sheahan captures the rural landscape and feel of a small community beautifully. It's a nostalgic rendering, with characters that felt real to me ... my favourite being Kate's great gran who reminded me so much of my own Gran ... strong but age bringing with it certain vulnerabilities and frailties, wise, down-to-earth, of the belief a good cup of tea will cure all that ails you, and a cup of tea and a biscuit sets things right.  

I loved the historical scope, from Walgett, in 1890's to Wagga during WWII (my parents and grandparents grew up in small towns in rural NSW, I was born in Wagga Wagga in the late 60's and my mother nursed in Wagga so Sheahan’s telling evoked many memories) to present day Yallowin, the small community in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in NSW. 

Kate's return to Yallowin and the family farm following the sudden death of her mother involves much more than the funeral, grief and guilt, it means facing her past and owning her future. It was satisfying to see Kate's growing self awareness and sense of belonging as Gran shared the stories of her forebears and the value of 'the bracelet'

Favourite quote: Remember Grandad used to say, 'Every day above ground is a good one.'

Since Kate and her gran rarely had a cuppa without a biccie, and my gran never had an empty biccie jar, I couldn't resist sharing a recipe for Anzac Biscuits ... my family's preference being for chewy Anzacs rather than crunchy so I've included the recipe I use. 

A quiet, evocative novel. 

photo credit: taste.com.au

ANZAC BISCUITS (approx 30)

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g butter 
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Celsius fan-forced).
Place flour, oats coconut and sugar in large bowl, stir to combine. 
Place golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter has fully melted. 
Mix the bicarb soda with water and add to the golden syrup mixture. It will bubble whilst you stir so remove from the heat. 
Pour golden syrup mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. 
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays lined with non stick baking paper, pressing down on the tops to flatten slightly. 
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until light golden brown.
Stand on trays for 5 mins then cool on wire racks. 

Connect with J.J. Sheahan

Purchase The Bracelet

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.


  1. I like that the author tried to include the family history!

  2. Bet I'd learn a few things from this novel! Nice review.

    1. Thanks Mary, definitely a good taste of Australia :)

  3. Sounds like a lovely book to curl up with…along with a cuppa and a biccie of course!

    I will have to try your recipe this Anzac Day as I much prefer the chewy variety to the crunchy.

    1. absolutely Karen, you summed it up perfectly. Enjoy the Anzacs, I make them all year :)

  4. I love jewelry. So, the title really rings with me. I hope you enjoyed baking.

  5. Oh this sounds like a great weekend read. I haven't ever made Anzacs ... I must give your easy recipe a try.

  6. An evocative novel. Sounds lovely. And your Anzac Biscuits are something I'd like to try.

  7. Oh, I love a good Anzac biscuit, and for me it definitely has to be at the chewy end of the spectrum, so I can't wait to try these.

  8. I've never had an Anzac biscuit before and I would love to try your recipe. This book sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


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