Book Review: Purple Roads, Fleur McDonald

| 18 April , 2012 | Reply

Purple Roads by Fleur McDonald is set amongst the tight knit farming communities of South Australia. Matt and Anna are real Aussie battlers. They\’ve worked hard to build up their farm, but five years of drought have put them on struggle street and made them cut costs to the bone. When Matt has a terrible truck accident there is no insurance. But it\’s the low-life act that follows which pushes their precarious finances over the edge. Matt and Anna lose their farm and everything they have worked so hard for.

Anna makes the best of it, but for Matt this seems to be the blow he can\’t take. He blames himself for failing and becomes increasingly bitter and introverted, unable to work and angry with those who are closest to him. As he sinks into a deep depression the strains increase on the already rocky marriage.

In the bush, people work together and help out in times of trouble, but there is a thief at large. Someone isn\’t helping out; they are helping themselves. Matt becomes obsessed by the fact that all the robberies require local knowledge and is determined to find the person, or people, who have destroyed his life.

He is helped by Jimmy, a ‘Nam veteran, who owns a trucking company and knows at first hand the healing power of work. He takes Matt on as a driver. This is the break Matt needs and he finds his spirits lifting as he and his mate, Shane, take on driving the big road trains through the outback. But Matt is still looking, building up a dossier that he hopes will eventually lead to the people behind the thefts.

Purple Roads is easy reading and it is obvious that Fleur McDonald knows her subject as she writes with affection of the lives of the Australian bush battlers, the networks that keep the small communities alive, and the drivers of the road trains that criss-cross this vast country.

Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$29.99


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