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A picturesque small town, a cosy community garden, a facade of tolerance and acceptance - but when three women with wildly different loyalties come together, what secrets and lies will be revealed? A timely novel exploring prejudice and privilege, from bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe.
Tara Hooper is at breaking point. With two young children, a business in a town struggling under an unexpected crime wave, and her husband more interested in his cricket team than their marriage, life is a juggling act. Then, when new neighbours arrive and they are exactly the sort of people the town doesn't want or need, things get worse.
Life has taught Helen Demetriou two things: being homeless is terrifying and survival means keeping your cards close to your chest. Having clawed back some stability through her involvement in the community garden, she dares to relax. But as she uncovers some shady goings-on in the council, that stability turns to quicksand.
For teenage mother Jade Innes, life can be lonely among the judgement of the town and the frequent absences of her boyfriend. A chance encounter draws her into the endangered community garden where she makes friends for the first time. Glimpsing a different way of life is enticing but its demands are terrifying. Does she even deserve to try?
Can such disparate women unite to save the garden and ultimately stop the town from tearing itself apart?
A timely novel exploring prejudice and privilege, from bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe.
PRAISE FOR FIONA LOWE:
'The undisputed queen...' Canberra Weekly
'Fiona's insight into the fickle nature of life ... and how best intentions can so easily come undone makes it simple to identify with her characters and lends an authentic resonance to this roller-coaster story.' - Australian Country
'Fiona Lowe weaves an extraordinary story of loss, love, and forgiveness.' - GLAM Adelaide
'If you loved Big Little Lies, you'll want to devour Fiona Lowe's Just an Ordinary Family next.' - Mamamia
Buy A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781489298676
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Book Review: A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe - Reviewed by CloggieA (08 Feb 2021)
5 stars A Home Like Ours is the fifth novel by Australian author, Fiona Lowe. Some three and a half years after her inauspicious arrival in the little Murray River town of Boolanga, Helen Demetriou is deeply involved in community projects. She coordinates the Boolanga Community Garden, living in an old cottage adjacent, as well as bringing left-over food to the town’s parks for the homeless.
When Fiza Atallah, a Sudanese refugee, expresses interest in gardening a plot, and access is blocked by Judith Sainsbury, the Garden committee’s petty bureaucrat, Helen arranges an extension of the garden on some vacant land, and Fiza and a group of Hazara women establish new garden beds for their traditional foods. Helen reminds Judith: “the garden’s on shire land and it exists to reach the broader community regardless of age, gender or country of origin.”
At nineteen, Jade Innes is accustomed to critical comments about her youthful motherhood from people like the snooty Baby Time mums at her main refuge, the library, but she’s determined to do a better job of raising Milo than her mother did with her. In the flat she can barely afford on her Jobseeker allowance, scrimping and saving to feed and clothe her boy, she’s bored and lonely. Milo’s father is mostly absent except when he has needs to satisfy, and contributes nothing to Milo’s upkeep.
On a walk by the river, she spots the community garden, and helps out with harvest in exchange for some fresh veggies. She’s wary of the Hazara women, but soon finds they are genuinely friendly and never critical. Milo’s racist dad forbids their contact with his son, but in his absence, Jade makes her own judgement.
Tara Hooper is at a loss. The mother of two has worked hard to be trim and attractive for her husband, to no avail. Jonathon, owner Hooper’s Hardware, Timber and Steel, is so gorgeous that Tara is the envy of the town’s female population, but she begins to agonise over the reason their marriage seems to be failing: a number of unwelcome possibilities fill her mind… she distracts herself with more fitness activity with her dishy personal trainer.
Jon seems to value her business input more than any intimacy, and sends her off to the Community Garden to explore sponsorship with the Gardens’ coordinator. Meanwhile, their store seems to be the target of vandals and thieves, and the local cop is convinced that the African youths are to blame.
Lowe’s story touches on many topical themes, including racist attitudes towards refugees, poverty, chronic illness, and local council corruption, as well as the age-old subjects of prejudice, friendship, loyalty and betrayal. She easily evokes her setting and the small-town mindset.
She gives her characters passion: homelessness, its very existence in the little town denied by most, is an unenviable fate to which Helen is no stranger, and she tirelessly lobbies the shire council to approve a sustainable tiny houses project for homeless older women, who are the fastest-growing homeless demographic.
Tara’s preoccupation with her first-world problems, and her reaction to them, may paint her as shallow, but when it is blown out of the water by an unanticipated explanation, she finds her awareness of the issues troubling her neighbours and those less fortunate in the town, is heightened.
Lowe throws together unlikely allies who, when push comes to shove, bring the perfect mix of initiative, inventiveness, pragmatism, fieriness, stoicism and guts. She gives them wise words: “People think it’s the bad things that undo us. But in my experience, it’s often the good stuff that trips us up, reminding us what we had, and what we miss the most” and “When a crisis hits, it’s never the people you expect who step up,” are examples. A thought-provoking and heart-warming read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and HQ Fiction.
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