26 September 2023

The Redgum River Retreat

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Sandie Docker, Penguin Books, $32.99.

Hope, heartache, healing. There’s nothing like a story that gets you teary, cheery and eventually feeling hopeful. There are some interesting layers in this novel. From shock, sorrow and remorse to wishful, fondness and disclosures.

Docker effortlessly weaves together the lives of three generations of women: grandmother Rosalie, single mother Sarah and her daughter Melody. Distinctly executed, this dual-timeline novel holds your hand in the present as it guides you through the past.

It will not take long to become invested in each of these three women’s stories as they uncover their traumas and learn to heal through music. There are also a host of loveable secondary characters that will leave a vital impression.

Single mother Sarah was a star in a concert at the Sydney Opera House and afterwards was on her way home with her young daughter Melody when a dreadful accident affected their lives.

Twelve months later and Melody’s selective mutism along with the fact she would never walk again, has eaten Sarah up inside. Her injuries had healed, on the outside at least, but her guilt will not ever leave her.

Sarah and Melody now live in Sarah’s grandmother’s guest house on the property, along with Ryan, Sarah’s cousin. For all intents and purposes, it was a perfect solution as Rosalie — Granny Rose — was in her 90s, so having her family around her helped.

Drawing together the threads of Rosalie’s past, a heartbreaking family mystery comes to light. Redgum River Retreat is where harmony is found when hope is lost.

Name the three generations we meet in The Redgum River Retreat. If the answer is correct, three lucky winners will get a copy of the book. Entries should be sent to [email protected] by Monday, 24 April 2023. Names of the winners will be published in Frank Cassidy’s PS-sssst…! column on 25 April 2023.

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