More than rural romance, this is a smart piece of fiction from Pamela Cook that engages the heart and the mind.
Publication date: 30 Jun 2015
Page count: 336
Publisher: Hachette Australia
What the back cover says:
Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between the haunting memories of her past, her dedication to the job and her attraction to a handsome local.
What I say:
If I told you that Australia is home to a virus that’s related to Ebola, you’d probably think I was kidding.
I’m not. It’s called the Hendra virus – and since 1994 it has killed four Australians, and more than 80 Australian horses. It’s spread through flying foxes, and so far the outbreaks have been contained to Queensland and northern New South Wales.
But with a human mortality rate of over 50%, Hendra is a frightening virus, and it provides a gripping ‘hook’ for Pamela Cook’s latest rural fiction offering.
Go into bookshop at the moment, and you’ll find the shelves awash with pastel-toned book covers featuring the Australian landscape.
Rural fiction (or rural romance, as some call it) is having a moment. A very big moment. And, if Close to Home is an accurate reflection of the genre, it’s easy to see why.
Charlie Anderson is an modern, rural heroine – educated, independent, and career-focused – the kind of woman who doesn’t need a man, and will only accept one into her life if he is able to add something to it.
Recently, I read an interview with a publisher who said that a work of commercial fiction should give the reader ‘what they want’.
On this score, Close to Home, absolutely delivers. The heroine is suitably heroic, the love interest is an absolute dream-boat, and the bad guy is a real baddy (and gets his just desserts!).
However, what prevents the book from falling into true ‘happily ever after’ territory is that it does address real, and difficult issues, such as domestic violence, grief, and of course, the ‘hook’ for the novel – the Hendra virus.
This is smart writing from Pamela Cook, who manages to tug at the heart strings, while keeping the brain fully engaged.
This was my first taste of rural fiction, and it was a good one. I’ll be back for more!