Stars Over the Southern Ocean by J.H. Fletcher
Book Review

Synopsis

With her home and freedom on the line, will her family force her to leave it all behind?

1937 - Seventeen year old Marina Fairbrother has lived in the small logging town of Mole Creek, Tasmania, her whole life. When she meets Jory Trevelyan, she is intrigued by the young man with the strange name and his tales of the west coast. Stories of wild winds and a tumultuous sea leave her hungering for a freedom she hadn't realised she lacked.

1993 - After a terminal diagnosis, Marina knows there is only one place she wants to spend her remaining days. The remote coastal property of Noamunga has been her

home for the past fifty years. Her memories are imprinted on the walls of the house and the rocks of the cliffs. Here she raised their three children, loved deeply, survived a war, worked hard, grieved deeply and lived a good life.

But there are forces that threaten to pull her away from her beloved home. Daughters whose well-intentioned concerns hide selfish ambition, a son who puts his future in the hands of the wrong people, and an oil company intent on striking oil just off the coast of her land.

My Thoughts

A chance meeting at a local dance changes the path of 17 year old Marina Fairbrother's life dramatically. Leaving her home amongst the timber country of Mole Creek, she accompanies Jory Trevalyan, a fisherman, to his home on the wild and windswept west coast of Tasmania. Here the Southern Ocean continually batters the land. Marina comes to fiercely love the remoteness of Noamunga despite the hardships, the uncertainty and loneliness when Jory puts to sea. She also has to contend with the menacing presence of Jory's father.

Now in her 70s and diagnosed with a terminal illness, Marina checks out of the hospital to return to Noamunga. Her family's negative response to her decision is what she expected, but she is determined to end her days in the place that she loves best, surrounded by her memories, good and bad. Those memories, and the action in the present day which ranges to India, Thailand and back to Tasmania, combine in another heartwarming story from a master of the family saga.

I've been a fan of J.H. Fletcher since reading The Governor's House. His books are always satisfying. I especially enjoy how he fills his stories with diverse characters but always at the core is an independent and intelligent woman, in this case Marina, with a sense of adventure, willing to take a gamble on what life has to offer.

Like all mothers, Marina is aware of her children's strengths and weaknesses, and refuses to be bullied by them to sell Noamunga for their own selfish reasons. It is gratifying that all three: Charlotte, Tamsin and Greg, come to realise that through their mother's stance to protect Noamunga, there is more to life than acquiring money and status.

Fletcher's descriptions of the landscape always hit the mark too. They give a better understanding of the love of the land that so many of his female protagonists share.

Stars Over the Southern Ocean is another pleasurable read from this author and one I'm happy to recommend.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia/Mira via NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book.
Details of how to purchase can be found here.

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