Bush nurse Lara McIntyre and journalist Toby Paxton are thrust into the limelight when an accident puts the beating heart of their community in jeopardy.
The small country town of Bridgefield can’t manage without their general store and post office, but Lara can’t stomach the idea of out-of-town buyers revamping it with no regard for what the residents want or need. She’s also unsure about where Toby’s allegiances lie in this fight.
Loyalties are put to the test as the locals attempt to save the shop, with personal agendas, old grudges and misunderstandings threatening their best efforts.
Featuring a black-tie ball, a fun run, a magpie called Vegemite and a snake-chasing kelpie called Basil, Magpie’s Bend is a story about rural lives, family, love and letting go.
Magpie’s Bend is the third book Maya Linnell has written about the McIntyre sisters, and don’t tell Penny and Angie but I think Lara’s story might be my favourite yet!
The action in this one starts on the very first page, and I was hooked just as quickly. It was so easy and such a pleasure to slip back into country life with the McIntyres! Maya’s writing feels so authentic and effortless – I have always loved the way that her stories have a definite Australian feel without feeling forced or cliched. The general store in particular felt so relatable to me and I think its such a universal feature of small town life to have a community hub like that. The town where my parents live has a little shop exactly like Bridgefield’s, where the locals collect their mail and the newpaper, and maybe a locally made pie or some hot chips – I could picture it all so perfectly!
One of my favourite things about this one was the relationships Lara has with her family. I have heard Maya mention in interviews that after Wildflower Ridge people saw Lara as being kind of cold, so it was lovely to see her from inside those relationships – from her nephews who think she’s the fun one, to her daughter who clearly adores her. I thought the mother/daughter bond was so well written – I really felt for Lara and could feel how she was torn between being proud to see her daughter spread her wings, but also wanting to keep her to herself a bit.
And then of course there’s the sweet relationship that develops between Lara and Toby. I loved how naturally and gently it developed, and the bumps Maya gave them along the way worked really well with the flow of the story. The romance is sweet rather than steamy (it is closed door romance) but there are definitely a couple of swoon-worthy moments alond the way!
As always in Maya’s books, baking as therapy and as a way of showing love and support features in Magpie’s Bend, and I have to admit that more than once during the few days I was reading this I found myself draw to the kitchen (I just can’t go past Maya’s blue ribbon yo-yo biscuit recipe, and not only because my photo features on the recipe page on Maya’s blog haha). Something I really appreciated about Lara was that she bakes without guilt, and exercises because she loves it.
In case you can’t tell, I thought this was a delight from start to end. Nothing makes me want to pack up and move to a cottage in rural Victoria like Maya’s books (I’d have a rose garden and farmhouse kitchen for all that baking , of course!). My only complaint is that now I have to wait nearly a year to spend more time with the McIntyre women!
Magpie’s Bend by Maya Linnell
Out now from Allen & Unwin
Source: I received a free copy from Allen & Unwin for review (thank you!). All views are my own.
Category: Aussie rural romance fiction
Format: Paperback, 368 pages