Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer

Australian author Anna Romer's second novel Lyrebird Hill is a fascinating tale of amnesia, family secrets and loss. On the surface, Ruby Cardel would appear to have a happy life. She runs a successful business and a loving and supportive boyfriend. Soon, her life begins to unravel--first by the discovery of lingerie in her boyfriend's pocket and then by the discover that the death of her older sister was far from accidental. Ruby returns to her childhood home, where she discovers more than she thought possible--including the diary of Brenna, a woman imprisoned for murder in the late nineteenth century. Running parallel to Ruby's own story is that of Brenna--a young woman also brought up at Lyrebird Hill and eventually trapped in an unhappy marriage. 

The duel narratives of Lyrebird Hill work well, and I found Brenna and Ruby's stories to be quite interesting. With Brenna I knew, (or at least thought that I knew,) what would happen, though the questions of how she went from a young and unhappy bride to a woman jailed for murder, kept me reading. (Along with the hope that her husband would get what was coming to him.) Ruby's story was a little more complex, as it relied upon a number of flashbacks as she regained her memories of the terrible day that her sister died. There are a couple of plot twists toward the end of the novel that I felt did not make quite the impact that may have been intended and credibility was stretched quite a bit. I felt Rob and Pete were perhaps not developed as fully as they had the potential to be.

There is much within this book to be enjoyed--Australian history, family secrets and a real sense of place. I loved the beautiful descriptions of the Australian landscape. (And if I ever find myself living on a property like Lyrebird Hill, I want a heated, outdoor bath just like the one that Esther had installed.) 

A uniquely Australian tale. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my review copy.