Author: Jennifer Scoullar
Genre: Contemporary Rural Fiction
Publication Date: 28th May 2014
Book Source: Penguin Books Aust & NetGalley
Synopsis: For Nina Moore, the rare marshland flanking the beautiful Bunyip River is the most precious place on earth. Her dream is to buy Billabong Bend and protect it forever, but she's not the only one with designs on the land. When her childhood sweetheart Ric returns home, old feelings are rekindled, and Nina dares to dream of a future for both of them on the river. But a tragic death divides loyalties and threatens to tear apart their fledgling romance.
This star-crossed rural romance sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course, amid the beauty of northern NSW.
I was lucky enough to discover Jennifer Scoullar's gorgeous writing in 2013 with Currawong Creek. This year it's Billabong Bend and I am crushing on the loveliness. Jennifer Scoullar's love of nature literally oozes from the pages, the beautiful descriptiveness puts you right there, soaking it all in.
The dawn chorus of birdsong and the smell of dew-damp leaves. The steam curling from the reedy river. The hushed expectancy and mysterious early landscape of shadow and light.
Cotton farming, water stealing and drought necessitate a different approach to farming and Nina is doing that and more with her property Red Gums in the Murray-Darling Basin region of NSW. She's a floodplains grazier, passionate about rehabilitation of the Bunyip River and her land and preserving the wetlands of neighbouring Billabong Bend as a wildlife sanctuary.
Ric returns to his father's cotton farm bringing with him the daughter he's only just met. Sophie is a precocious, endearing 9 year old. It was easy to understand the bond quickly forged with Nina over a mutual love of animals and a thirst for learning about nature whilst the connection between father and daughter was a little more challenging to establish.
Billabong Bend is a delicate balance of family dynamics, river stories, environmental issues and romance. The re-kindled relationship between Nina and Ric felt authentic, both the chemistry and the stumbling blocks to their happiness.
I love Jennifer Scoullar's passionate and respectful approach to the environment; rehabilitation, conservation and sustainability and it was impossible not to be caught up in Nina's love of all the species dependent on the wetlands.
There were so many tender, sigh-worthy moments that had me tearing up ... the rare magpie geese being taught to fly and Guddu's story being just two.
PS. with yet another beautiful story Jennifer Scoullar goes on my auto-buy list.
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