The Crossroads by Pamela Cook

In brief: In the tiny town of Birralong, two local women and one stranger have secrets. Can they work through them together?

The good: Delightful read mixing heartache with joy.

The not-so-good: It took me far too long to read this book due to other commitments!

Why I chose it: Enjoyed Pamela Cook’s books previously, thanks to Hachette for the copy.

Year: 2016

Pages: 344

Publisher: Hachette

Setting: Birralong, Queensland

My rating: 10 out of 10

I think I’ve said this many times on the blog, but I have a strange aversion to book covers with horses. Over the last few years, I’ve found that these books are quite often gems and the horse not a major part of the story. This is true of The Crossroads – only one of the main characters has a horse, and she doesn’t spend all her time talking about it. (I like horsepower, over the real thing). Whether you’re a fan of horses or not, I recommend The Crossroads as a lovely Aussie rural fiction read. It has everything you want – battles against external factors, a race against time, love, loss and ultimately a happy ending. It would make for a great summer or holiday read.

Times are tough in the small Queensland town of Birralong. Drought has affected the area badly and the whole town is feeling the pinch. Rose O’Shea runs the local pub, The Crossroads, which is suffering too – business is weak and she can’t afford to pay for the repairs to the heritage listed building. Her daughter Stephanie lives on a property outside of town and the drought has turned her once happy husband into an uncommunicative recluse. Meanwhile in Sydney, Faith Montgomery gets the surprise of her life when she looks for some documentation for her parents – her birth certificate with another name on it. As she’s at a loose end, what better time to track down her birth mother than in a tiny northern town?

As the women try to work through their own problems, there are other, more pleasant issues thrown in their path. Rose is treated to the return of an old flame, while Faith enjoys the company of the brother of Stephanie’s husband. However, it’s when things get desperate and the three women pull together that the book really begins to shine. I was impressed how Rose, Faith and Stephanie worked together in a crisis, all drawing on their own strengths to orchestrate a response in an emergency. At this point, I felt like I knew each of these characters really well – kudos to Pamela Cook for making them sound like real people, who I could be friends with. The crisis was for me the most gripping part of the book. The writing was wonderfully atmospheric with the tension and strain on each character palpable.

Another thing which I really liked about The Crossroads was how it didn’t make a big mystery out of who Faith’s mum was. It was revealed early on and the journey was about Faith working up the courage to reveal herself to her mother (or BM as she calls her). It was a really unique thing to read as she watched her mum, trying to find similarities between them while she tried to act as a stranger/employee. Pamela Cook really translated across the page the awkwardness that Faith was feeling. A little thing that worked well for me were the weather descriptions – reading this in a range of weathers, I really felt the heat and dryness of a long Aussie summer.

The whole story of The Crossroads just worked for me. I loved the combination of grit and love that helped these women make it through tough times.

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