March 26

The Whole Bright Year by Debra Oswald

If, like me, you love the Australian television production Offspring, you will know Debra Oswald is the brilliant creator of what I can only describe as a joy-ride of a series.  I also reviewed a book of hers called Useful here and reported happily that I was a fan.

But, alas, I am sorry to say Readheads, this one did not pass muster for me and I simply hate writing these words.  I feel like I am being unfaithful.

Debra, forgive me.

We are taken back to 1976 and it is the stone fruit picking season.  A couple of amateur pickers (who are brother and sister) arrive at Celia’s farm hoping to make quick cash to fix their broken-down car.  After hearing a little about them, we surmise that while Sheena and Kieran are not quite on the run, they are escaping the city like two bats out of hell.

Celia is wary but desperately needs to get the peaches picked before they rot to the ground along with any seasonal profits, so nervously welcomes them onto the farm to pick over Christmas.  Sheena, the older, harder sister and Kieran, the 18-year-old brother  quietly settle in to a small makeshift cabin not far from Celia’s home which she shares with her beloved 16-year-old daughter Zoe.

So long story short – Peaches get picked, sparks fly between Keiran and Zoe and things then go to hell in a hand basket when the young lovers run away.

I won’t go into it more than that because while the story itself is not bad at all, the fatal flaw for me was I didn’t warm to a single character in the book. Not a-one !

Now this is shocking because I generally love Debra Oswald’s characters – quirky, funny, strange and loveable.  This time, nada. Zip!

So, I am left in a not-so-bright place because I really can’t remember giving a bad review of late or worse,  feeling this way about a book in a long while.  So now I just feel like a rotten peach myself.

I would go and watch Offspring to cheer myself up but I just finished the last season (and loved it!) so my only option left is to write this very sad review and take a deep breath when I push ‘publish’….

And that is just my two cents worth.