The wind rattles at doors and windows so I’m wrapped in layers of clothes yet feeling the slight chill up sleeves and around ankles. Reading Brumby’s Run by Jennifer Scoullar, it’s easy to imagine endless days of sunshine, heating up the walls of the farmhouse so they’re warm to the touch. If you haven’t experienced the Australian country in summer, this book could entice sailors inland. One of the best features of Brumby’s Run is its depiction of the Victorian Alps. As the protagonist Samantha Carmichael is invited to look after her newly discovered and sick twin sister’s farm, she explores her surroundings with virgin eyes.
Samantha being raised in Melbourne and France by her adoptive parents, compares throughout the book the differences between her childhood and her sister Charlie’s. And when Charlie is forced to recover from her illness in Melbourne, she does the same. The winner of the two settings is clearly Brumby’s Run, not only because of the idyllic country landscape but also the creatures that run up and down it.
Predominately, the story revolves around Samantha, Charlie and Drew, the friend and love interest, however the brumbies whom they interact with daily have tales too (pun not intended). The horses become integral to the story and provide depth when sometimes antagonists cannot. It’s unfortunate that some of the more complex characters, such as Faith, Mary and Bill, are pushed to the side, involvement limited. The teenagers are left to fend for themselves, able to untangle the mess their parents handed them.
Brumby’s Run is an enjoyable read for anyone who wishes to transport themselves to sunnier and simpler settings. Jennifer Scoullar’s fondness and familiarity of country life comes across plainly in her writing. Proper care of horses and wildlife is a key issue raised in the book as well as the sense of community felt in rural towns. Whilst I believe some of the characters’ problems were resolved with remarkable ease, Brumby’s Run is a light-hearted novel with strong Australian roots.
Available now: Penguin RRP$29.95