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Book Review - Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

What if all you needed to do to find home, was leave?

Wanted: companion to escort a young, orphaned child home to Australia.

All expenses as well as passage covered.

Interested parties to apply without delay to 32 Williams Street, Belgravia.

Rose Hamilton is in desperate need of a fresh start. There are so many reasons she should ignore the advertisement: the war, those treacherous seas, her family, her fiancé... but she cannot help herself. Within weeks, she is boarding an enormous convoy, already too attached to five-year-old Walter Lucknow.

But rural Queensland, and the cattle station home of Walter's parents, is not as either of them were told to expect. Rose cannot leave this little boy she's grown to love until he is happy, and she knows the key to this is Walter's wounded fighter pilot uncle Max. But how will she ever part with Walter? And what if he isn't the only reason she wants to stay?

My review

I read this book whilst on holiday and found it difficult to put down. I loved Rose's character from the start and thought the descriptions of war-torn London, and her life there were very evocative. The reasons for her going to Australia were very real and convincing. Her thought-processes leading up to this decision were vividly portrayed, which gave me a sense of the enormity of her decision.

When the story moved to Australia, and we were introduced to Max, there was definitely a tightening of the tension. The isolation of the homestead, the difficult circumstances of Rose's arrival with Walter, the mystery about Mabel and what happened here - all compound the deepening sense of intimacy and intrigue.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the Australian landscape: the prose brought the sights and smells and sounds to life in a way that I found absorbing. Woven into this was the palpable attraction between Rose and Max, which was the start of a pitch-perfect unfolding of their relationship - the conflicts, the hesitations, misunderstandings, desire and growing love.

I absolutely LOVED the development of this romance because it was utterly heartfelt and without cliche. The occasional foreshadowing of problems on the horizon gave an added tension to the story which accounted for the unputdownable nature of this book. I really enjoyed being transported to a time and place about which I knew very little and feeling it come to life through Max and Rose, and the other vividly portrayed characters. Definitely a book whose atmosphere and characters will stay with me.

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