The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns recently won the Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction. Rachael Johns is the best-selling author of rural romance, but this novel isn’t a rural romance, although there’s plenty of romance in it, and it is set in country South Australia. It’s a story of four sisters, all very different from each other, who come together to celebrate Christmas six months after their mother died. The sisters’ father runs the local pub and motel, but he isn’t doing very well, battling with the aftermath of the death of his beloved wife. The sisters discover the existence of a family curse as they go through their mother’s belongings. There’s lots of humour, steamy romance, and each sister has a back story which is gradually revealed, a life the others don’t know about, but which inevitably becomes exposed. There are some great characters, such as the feisty Aunt Mags who refuses to call the retirement home she lives in anything but the “Entertainment Centre”. Johns knows how to capture the Australian country essence. This is a contemporary novel, not quite chick-lit, but full of the tensions and joys of family life along with passion and love lost and rediscovered. It ultimately resolves satisfactorily all round. The Patterson Girls is great for a holiday or weekend reading “escape” being well-written, up-beat, and engaging.
Rachael Johns has a new book, “The Art of Keeping Secrets, coming out soon. See her website at http://www.rachaeljohns.com/