Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer

I was fortunate enough to obtain an electronic review copy of this book through NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia.  I enjoyed this novel so much that I immediately located copies of Ms Romer’s first two books, and read them as well.

I hope I don’t have to wait too long for a fourth book …

Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer

‘If you could have anything at all, what would it be?’

Lucy Briar returns home to Melbourne, Australia after receiving a letter from her grandfather, Edwin.  Lucy’s made a life in London, has a fiancé (Adam) there, but has unfinished business in Australia.  And, very quickly after Lucy lands in Melbourne, her life becomes complicated.

‘I realised that the past was never completely gone.’

There are two stories in this novel: Lucy’s story and a story from the 1930s set in her grandfather’s home, Bitterwood Park.  The novel shifts between present and past, and I found myself caught up in both looking for connections between the two.  Lucy’s father Ron asks her to visit Bitterwood Park, to find an old photograph album.  Ron and Edwin were estranged, and while Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood Park, she’s keen to find the album for her father.

Once Lucy gets to Bitterwood Estate, with her newly adopted cat Basil, she finds mystery and confusion.  But Lucy is determined to uncover the truth about the past, and while she’s searching for answers in Bitterwood Park she’s also conscious that her own future isn’t as settled as she though it was.

While I enjoyed this novel, it was the mystery of the past rather than Lucy’s contemporary story that particularly held my attention.   Slowly, layer by layer, the truth about the past emerges.  Just as slowly (or so it seems) Lucy finds her place in the present.  Ms Romer has created an engaging page turning read, full of suspense, and as soon as I finished it I looked for her earlier work.  I’d not read Ms Romer’s previous two novels (an omission since rectified) and I’ve added her to my ‘must read’ list.

‘A man doesn’t know, does he – what the future will bring.  He thinks only of the moment.’

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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