Title: Dust of the Land
Author: J.H. Fletcher
Genre: Family Saga
Opening lines: ‘…Bella Tucker woke at four-thirty, as she did every morning …’
Blurb: Bella Tucker has come a long way. Born illegitimate and banished to the London slums by her vindictive stepmother, at six Bella is rescued by her grandfather and brought up as a member of the aristocratic Richmond family. Her future seems assured when she falls passionately in love with Charles Hardy, heir to the wealthy Hardy estate — until her grandfather’s death changes everything. Heartbroken and headstrong, Bella takes a chance and flees to Australia, where she is offered a job by the charismatic Garth Tucker, owner – of Miranda Downs, a vast cattle station in the stunning and remote Pilbara region. After several near disasters, she finds herself falling in love with Garth amidst the dust, heat and the endless expanse of bush. Together, Bella and Garth become major players in the new mining industry, allowing Bella to build her dream home, the sprawling homestead, ‘Desire’. But after Garth’s unfortunate death, Bella is forced to deal with circumstances that bring the family close to ruin… and the business Bella and Garth have built to the brink of collapse. Can Bella untangle the lies and save the business and her family home?
My thoughts: It has been a while since I have settled down and read a family saga so was delighted when I was offered the chance to read DUST OF THE LAND. The book follows the story of Bella from a tiny child post first world war through to her 60th birthday which is set in the books ‘present’ which I am guessing was in the 1990s. The book opens at Bella’s birthday party and we learn that corporate skulduggery has taken place and someone is out to destroy her iron ore company. The suspects are introduced, and then the story of the investigation into who has betrayed Bella along with the fight to save Bella’s company is interspersed with her back story from childhood to the point she is at now. Once or twice I was a bit lost as to what time period I was in – but once I got into the chapter it soon cleared up for me. I think dates at the top of the chapter, or section, would have been useful for me so I didn’t lose the flow. It does portray what it must have been like to be a woman in a man’s business – mining. Not that I am implying women can’t run a mining business – it’s just that a lot of the men in the industry at the time Bella and her husband were setting up the company didn’t. When she was widowed it was assumed she would just fade out of sight, but she came out into the arena solo and fighting. DUST OF THE LAND looks at how white land ownership impacted on the Australian Aboriginal people’s customs and traditions and that respect of these customs and traditions was possible. The Australian Outback is a character of its own, the Pilbara region just coming alive on the pages. Chinese business negotiation customs are also looked at, China is set to become a trading partner of Bella’s and her Chinese daughter-in-law is able to advise Bella. Then there is feminism and the roles of women, not only Bella but her daughter peace and daughter-in-law Su-Ying. It is this blend of story and back stories that made DUST OF THE LAND and enjoyable read. It looks at life warts and all and Bella is in the thick of it, not just living in the background as a support act. Bella is a strong woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself and loves her business, her family and her adopted country of Australia deeply.
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C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.
With thanks to Harlequin (Australia) and the author for my copy to read and review.