Return to Roseglen by Helene Young

‘Ivy’s hand trembled as she drew the brush over her lips, in danger of smudging the bright colour.’

Ivy Dunmore lives at Roseglen, a remote North Queensland cattle station, currently drought-stricken.  Ivy, aged in her nineties, has lived alone since her husband Charlie died.  Ivy has three children: Ken who is close by, Georgina who is an international pilot and Felicity who nurses in Brisbane.   Ivy is increasingly frail and concerned for the future.  Not only is she concerned about the consequences of drought, there are family secrets as well.  And Ken, Georgina and Felicity are not close to each other.  Ivy is right to be concerned about the future for Roseglen: her neighbour Mitch has helped, but she knows that Ken can’t stand him.

Through Ivy, we are introduced to her children, each with their own challenges, and Mitch.  Mitch seems like a great neighbour, so why does Ken dislike him so?  I kept reading, enjoying the way the story unfolded with Ivy at the centre, worrying about her frailty, concerned about how her son was treating her.  Ms Young’s characters are well developed, facing issues that at least some readers will be able to relate to.  But beyond the more common, more everyday issues of frail old age, of relationship breakdowns, of choices made and regretted, there’s a secret at the core of this story. Can Ken, Georgina and Felicity move beyond their differences to work together?  And what about Mitch?

I picked up this novel and found it very difficult to put down.  I wanted to know how it would end, wanted certain outcomes and dreaded others (no spoilers here!).  This is the first of Ms Young’s novels that I have read: I’ll certainly be looking to read others.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith


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