Author: Tricia Stringer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1st May 2015
Book Source: Harlequin Mira
Synopsis: Heart of the Country is the first book in an epic historical saga of three Australian families. Spanning several generations, this epic tells the story of the Baker, Smith and Wiltshire families forging their paths in a land both beautiful and unforgiving.
Lives are intertwined by love and community then ripped apart by hate and greed but remain always bound to the land they love…
1846. Newly arrived from England, Thomas Baker is young, penniless and alone. Eager to make his mark on this strange new place called South Australia, he accepts work as an overseer on a distant sheep property, believing this will be the opportunity he seeks. But when Thomas’s path crosses that of ex-convict, Septimus Wiltshire — a grasping con man hell bent on making a new life for himself and his family at any price — trouble is on the horizon.
But Thomas is made of stern stuff and his fortunes take a turn for the better when he meets spirited farmer’s daughter Lizzie Smith, and soon he envisages their future together.
But this land is like no other he has encountered: both harsh and lovely, it breaks all but the strongest. When his nemesis intervenes once more and drought comes, Thomas finds himself tested almost beyond endurance with the risk of losing everything he and Lizzie have worked for… even their lives.
My first time reading Australian author Tricia Stringer and Heart of the Country appears to be her first foray into adult historical fiction. Historical fiction being one of my favourite genres to read and me being a self-confessed-fussy-cow I gotta say, Tricia Stringer nails it!
Heart of the Country is set in the mid 1800's during pastoral settlement of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We follow young Thomas Baker as he strikes out for 'Penakie' and a new life.
There's a wide cast of characters to love and loathe but I particularly adored Thomas and Lizzie, Gulda and Daisy and Lizzie's brothers Zac and Jacob. I laughed and cried along with them as life and the land dished out joys and hardships. I giggled at Thomas's embarrassment getting a boil lanced on his backside, sighed at the sheer vastness and beauty of our country and wished a 'bad' end on a few vile characters HA.
Stringer captures the wild beauty and ruggedness of our country, the harsh conditions and isolation, the scorching heat, drought that brings the country to its knees, the loss of livestock, the very human toll but also the camaraderie between (most) properties despite the distance. I loved the respect shown to the culture of original land owners but I also appreciated that Stringer didn't gloss over the often negative and shameful encounters between white settlers and indigenous Australians.
Heart of the Country is authentic, vibrant and colourful, full of tension, and tender moments. 500 pages flew by. No hardship reading this one ... I loved it!
I loved that Heart of the Country had a satisfying ending, no cliffhanger to torture me for a year and I can't wait to see what awaits the next generation.
Maybe a little Tricia Stringer rural romance while I wait for the 2nd installment?
Connect with Tricia Stringer
I'm excited ... up for grabs 3 copies of Heart of the Country for readers of my blog. Just leave a comment telling me how Heart of the Country calls out to you?
2 x print copies - Australia
1 x eBook copy - international (Amazon gift)
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link
Giveaway ends 2nd August and winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!