Rural fiction, or farm-lit as some call it, is a growing genre, one that I’m not normally drawn to. The issue of adoption in this one interested me. Pamela Cook’s work is said to ‘feature feisty women, tangled relationships and a healthy dose of romance’. The Crossroads had all of these.
Forty-nine-year-old Rose owns and runs the pub in the fictional Queensland town of Birralong. The hotel is heritage listed and her husband Mick died of cancer leaving her to try and keep up with the maintenance on her own, with all of the rules and regulations, alongside the crippling drought that is affecting the community.
Her daughter Stephanie is married to local property owner, Bryce, and they have a five-year-old son Jake. Their relationship is strained due to the drought, and she believes he may be suffering from depression, which is touched on but not taken as far as it could have been.
Faith has discovered that she is adopted at thirty-one-years-of-age. She does some digging and finds out her birth mother is Rose. She applies for the job going at the hotel and leaves her Sydney home and turns up in Birralong to try and find out what her ‘BM’ is like.
For both daughters the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, in terms of keeping secrets, and not sharing the difficult parts of their lives, ‘skilled at avoidance’. The women are certainly feisty, strong and fiercely independent.
Cook shows the small town country life, where your business is never just your own, you’re not a local unless you were born there, and they all pitch in when there’s a crisis and come together for a celebration. She contrasts that with the city, and the assumptions that are often made by urban-dwellers about the bush. The impact of the drought, not only on the farmers, but on the businesses that they use, like the local pub, is depicted well.
The issue of adoption is handled with sensitivity, from the perspective of all involved – the birth parents, the adoptive parents, the adopted child, and the extended family.
There is that romance in there, but it did not all turn out as I predicted, which was good. Ultimately it was mostly about family. ‘You couldn’t live without them, … but sometimes they were hard to manage’. But connection, history and genes do have meaning and that sense of family is so important.