Title: Wattle Creek
Author: Fiona McCallum
Opening line: ‘…Damien had suicide in his sights …’
Blurb: Damien McAllister is a man on the brink. Spending long, hard days on a farm he has no affection for, and nights ignoring the criticisms of his mother, Damien can no longer remember what he’s living for. But in a small town like Wattle Creek, there are few people to turn to — and Damien learned long ago to keep his problems to himself. Until Jacqueline Havelock, a young psychologist escaping her own issues, arrives fresh from the city and makes Damien question everything he has known about himself…also igniting a spark in his lonely heart. Soon Damien is daring to ask for more than an ordinary life, and can glimpse the possibility of happiness. Will this accidental farmer dare to fulfil the long-forgotten legacy of his father and find peace in the arms of Jacqueline? Or will the ghosts of their pasts threaten the fragile new lives they’ve just begun to build?
My thoughts: As you can see from the opening line, WATTLE CREEK starts off with a very emotionally confronting scene of a man staring down the barrel of gun wanting to end it all. This is not how you would normally expect a romance to open. From this heart in your mouth opening though, author Fiona McCallum takes us into the lives of the small farming community of Wattle Creek in outback Australia. He is a ‘typical’ Aussie bloke in that he doesn’t talk much and is not inclined to share his feelings. But Damien finds the courage to seek help and he is lucky because the local medical centre has just taken on a short term psychologist and he is her first patient. Jacqueline is a city girl who has her own reasons for wanting to be away in the country. She is determined to help the community however she quickly comes to the realisation that practicing in a small rural town with a bush telegraph that travels faster than a walk across the road to the grocery store poses challenges she had never considered. Nothing is private. How on earth can she convince patients like Damien to visit her without the whole town knowing? Can she change the attitude of the townspeople? Depression and suicide are confronting issues, sadly all too common in the rural areas. It is common in the cities too, but unlike the city dwellers, in the outback access to professional help is not always available. WATTLE CREEK demonstrates what could happen if a psychologist was easily accessible. Damien is the ‘everyman’ of the farming community and his struggles are handled extremely sensitively and are spot in in showing the thought process, or rather the lack of thought process, people on the edge possibly go through.
Don’t be put off though, this is not a self-help book, and the story is not a depressing read; if you will pardon the pun. There is a lot of joy and laughter and, of course, the romance. Watching the city girl getting drunk on her first Friday night in town with the girls, dealing with a boss who thinks women should stay at home and nurture the men, and learning how to fit in a community are all portrayed well. Like any community Wattle Creek has a variety of characters that might fight like cat and dog during the day – but when danger threatens they all pull together. And anyone who has been to a CWA afternoon tea will understand the vast array of food that is available there. Special mention needs to go to the smallest character – Squish. Anyone who has a Jack Russell in their life will relate to this little dog, and anyone who needs a friend who is always willing to listen needs one of these in their life – or any dog!!
WATTLE CREEK deals very well with how depression affects those who work and live in the land. And Fiona McCallum has dedicated it “…to all those who have suffered depression and will suffer depression in the future: a problem shared is a problem halved…” and given a list of web addresses and organisations for those who think they need help to contact, including: www.beyondblue.org.au/
For more about the author – Click Here
B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.