5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Vingnette of Australian life,
This review is from: The Fine Colour of Rust (Hardcover)
Left behind in Gunapan by her lousy husband with her two children, Loretta Boskovic drives the dusty road from her house to town, staring out at the scrubby bushland dreaming of rescue by a handsome lover and a car radio that gets something other than racing commentary. In this unique, wryly observed novel, Paddy O'Reilly captures the essence of a lonely Australian bush town and it's ordinary residents with humour and heart.
The author's protagonist is a woman you will find in any small town, she is a single mother juggling child raising with work, a budget that only allows for discounted undies and a longing for an intimate relationship. Loretta copes with the spareness of her life with a wicked sense of humour, and roll-up-your-sleeves and get-on-with-it attitude. Her children are everything to her, even though she regularly fantasises about being whisked away from their whining demands. Raising her two children on her own isn't easy, they miss their father and his sudden (though mercifully brief) reappearance seems to trigger their worst instincts leaving Loretta floundering.
Loretta isn't completely alone, her neighbour, Norm - a laconic and slightly eccentric collector - is her dearest friend and champion. Her best friend is also a single woman on the prowl and in a community like Gunupan everyone knows everyone else.
In an unconscious effort to stave off her loneliness, Loretta rallies the community in an effort to stop the closure of their school and when that is accomplished, finds a new cause involving a shady development deal and corruption Councillors. In a small town like Gunapan the community is the lifeblood of the town and depends on its' residents to fight for it to stay alive.
It is rare to find Australian novels with a vivid sense of place but O'Reilly evokes this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, slowly dying as services and amenities disappear. Public swimming pools are drained and sports fields are unplayable thanks to the extended drought and the youth grow up and leave for greener pastures. These towns rarely get much attention in fiction with the dazzling Sydney Harbour or wild, romantic outback providing more popular and scenic backdrops.
Loretta's every day life in an ordinary town makes for a surprisingly compelling story. The Fine Colour of Rust is a character driven novel that also addresses a variety of themes such as social injustice and inequality within a subtly layered plot. It will make you laugh and cry and is a fine example of contemporary Australian fiction that captures the essence of who we are, and who we want to be.