Dale Turner’s novel of one wife’s grit and determination is a charming hymnal to family and life on an Australian farm.
When Lil and Ted purchase their small farm miles away from their families, they both realize they have taken on a great deal of work, but when Ted enlists to fight in World War II, the farm duties fall solely on Lil’s slender shoulders. Lil digs in her heels, pledging to keep the farm going for Ted’s sake. Fighting fire, theft, and daily challenges from crops and animals, Lil grows from a wifely helpmate to an independent woman with business savvy and a farmer’s intuition.
The strength of Turner’s novel lies in the plot, setting, and Lil’s character development. As Lil is faced with the challenge of caring for the farm while her husband is at war, Turner artfully depicts her transformation, providing a compelling portrait of one woman’s evolution through adversity. This is a classic “man against nature” tale that takes on fascinating nuances as Lil learns to solve her problems largely by herself. The course of the story is unpredictable and the conclusion satisfying.
Turner, a native Australian, describes the beauty of the Australian bush, creating a lovely portrait of a landscape that will be unfamiliar to most readers. The land, weather, and animals become antagonists in the story, as each poses a threat to Lil’s plans.
The novel sputters, however, in its dialogue. The characters’ wooden language can be distracting; however, Turner’s ability to create strong characters and compelling situations despite the stilted language compensates for this shortcoming. In the end, this novel is a gratifying depiction of Lil’s change through hardship, and readers will be intrigued by how her transformation unfolds.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.