Cate Christie can barely remember a time when she wasn’t a disappointment to her parents. Known as a party girl with no ambition and recently stricken with grief after her best friend, Brigit, died in a car accident, Cate is left feeling bereft and, in a hopeless effort to try and outrun the pain, goes to stay with her aging Great-Aunt Ida who is in desperate need of assistance around her large remote property.
It is here that she meets a drifter whose name may or may not be Henry.
Unbeknownst to Aunt Ida, Henry has been staying in one of the dilapidated sheds on the property but when Cate brings it to her attention, Ida is more than happy for him to stay and help out on the farm - and, so is Mac, Ida’s dog who has taken quite a shine to him.
Between sorting through Ida’s house which has become a hoarder’s paradise, odd jobs around the farm, helping Ida with her community obligations and trying to come to terms with the issues plaguing her, Cate forms a bond with Ida as time spent at the farm and in the little town begins to offer answers to her most troubling questions, pushing her to re-examine her own thoughts on life, death and everything in between.
I’ve been a fan of rural Australian fiction for some time now and one of the reasons is because the authors who pen these novels are so diverse in what they have to bring to their stories – Anthea Hodgson is no different.
Her main characters are unfalteringly real and are supported by a host of colourful secondary characters who drive the novel. Ida, in particular, is a hopelessly endearing character as is Mac, the dog. Henry, too, is flawed and the additional layers of intrigue relating to his reasons for drifting add both depth and complexity to the plot.
Anthea’s love for the country, landscape and community permeates the novel while the many snort-out-loud moments and stomach-clenching tenderness balance out the tragedy and loss that surrounds these characters.
The charm and heart of this novel is Cate’s great-aunt Ida who gives her something to look forward to but it’s the mental anguish that we see Cate going through and the mystery surrounding Henry’s presence that drive the story forward.
Told with emotional tenderness and filled with our trademark Aussie humour, wit and charm, Anthea’s writing is wholly readable, totally absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable, making The Drifter an engaging and uplifting read that captures the rural life and communities through the eyes of someone who has lived it.
With an intriguing plot and a great mixture of sexy and heartfelt romance, The Drifter heralds the arrival of a strong and fresh new voice in Australian rural literature. If you enjoy books by Karly Lane, you’ll definitely need to pick this one up!
I wish to thank the publisher, Penguin Australia, for providing me with a hard copy for review.
About the Author
Anthea Hodgson is a country girl from the WA wheatbelt. She likes all the usual stuff, from chocolate to puppies, and she loves a coffee, which probably played a large part in her move from the farm to Perth - although she thinks boarding school may have had something to do with it, too.
In her previous life she was child free and working as a radio producer, where the coffee was terrible but the people were great, and now she has three brilliant kids, including her husband, a job she loves even more than radio, and a two book deal with Penguin Random House.
Because, a few years ago Anthea found herself with nothing to do at three am, so she climbed out of bed and wrote her debut novel, The Drifter, in five weeks. Told you she likes coffee!
About the Book
‘Life isn’t just the breathing part, dear. It’s being here, with you.’
Cate Christie is a drifter, moving restlessly through her carefree youth until tragedy strikes, and her life is changed forever. She flees the city, seeking refuge at her great-aunt Ida’s farm in the wheatfields of Western Australia.
There she finds Henry, a swagman whose dark eyes and heavy heart hold secrets he’s not willing to share.
When Ida is no longer able to go on, Cate and Henry are put to the ultimate test. Together they must embrace the true meaning of family, community and love so they can put their own ghosts to rest.
The Drifter is a moving and highly original story from an exciting new voice in rural writing, about what it takes to make a good life, a good death – and how to capture the magic in-between.
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Pub Date: September 2016