I came into this book not having read any of the six previous books in the series, and I have to admit it took me a little while to figure out what was going on and who all the characters were. Jenny and her family have certainly lived very eventful and complex lives! There are a lot of connections between the different characters, lots of family secrets, and more than a few babies who had been secretly raised by someone other than their birth parents which made things a bit confusing at times! I had read that Trails in the Dust works as a standalone, and while that’s true I think that it would have been a different (maybe easier?) reading experience if I had followed the story from the first book and had a better idea of the characters and what they had been through from the start.
Despite a few moments of confusion while I tried to sort out who was who, I found this really readable. I can imagine that if you had read the previous books this would feel like spending time with old friends. I think Dettman does a great job of writing authentic characters – however farfetched coincidence-driven the situations she puts them in. I found that I had become really fond of Jenny and some of the other characters by the end of the book, and I am actually quite keen now to go back and read from the start of the series.
In case it isn’t clear, this book covers a lot of different issues (it pretty much summarises all of the events of the previous six books, after all), and some of them get pretty heavy – it has content that includes rape, domestic abuse, suicide, war, and miscarriage, among others.
I think this is a great read for lovers of books Australian country town setting and family sagas, especially if you like a twist of soap-opera style drama in there too!
Trails in the Dust by Joy Dettman
Out now from Macmillan Australia
Source: Free copy sent by Macmillan Australia
Category: Australian contemporary (with a little historical) fiction, family saga, suspense/thriller