PRIZE OF THE WEEK

Shepparton News - Country News - - COUNTRY LIFE -

➤ Hold­ing is Bri­tish co­me­dian and pre­sen­ter Gra­ham Nor­ton’s de­but novel, ex­plor­ing the dark se­crets of a small Ir­ish vil­lage.

The re­mote Ir­ish vil­lage of Duneen has known lit­tle drama, and yet its in­hab­i­tants are trou­bled.

Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t al­ways been this over­weight, mother-of-two Brid Rior­dan hasn’t al­ways been an al­co­holic and el­e­gant Eve­lyn Ross hasn’t al­ways felt that her life was a to­tal waste.

So when hu­man re­mains are dis­cov­ered on an old farm, sus­pected to be that of Tommy Burke — a for­mer love of both Brid and Eve­lyn — the vil­lage’s dark past be­gins to un­ravel.

As the frus­trated PJ strug­gles to solve a gen­uine case for the first time in his life, he un­earths a com­mu­nity’s worth of anger and re­sent­ments, se­crets and re­gret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times pro­foundly sad, Nor­ton em­ploys his acer­bic wit to breathe life into a host of love­able char­ac­ters and ex­plore, with sear­ing hon­esty, the com­plex­i­ties and con­tra­dic­tions that make us hu­man.

Hold­ing by Gra­ham Nor­ton is pub­lished by Ha­chette Aus­tralia, RRP $32.99. ➤ Au­thor of A Sun­burnt Child­hood Toni Tapp Coutts grew up on the mas­sive Kil­lar­ney Sta­tion, where her step­fa­ther, Bill Tapp, was a cat­tle king.

But there was no ‘big house’ here — Toni did not grow up in a large home­stead. She lived in a shack that had no elec­tric­ity and no run­ning wa­ter.

The op­pres­sive cli­mate of the Ter­ri­tory, ei­ther wet or dry, tested every­one. Fish were known to rain from the sky and some­times good men drank too much and drowned try­ing to cross swollen rivers.

Toni grew up with the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple who lived and worked on the sta­tion, and got into scrapes with her ev­er­in­creas­ing num­ber of sib­lings.

She loved where she grew up — she was happy on the land with her friends and fam­ily, ob­serv­ing the many char­ac­ters who made up the com­mu­nity on Kil­lar­ney. When she was sent to board­ing school, all she wanted to do was go back to the land she loved, de­spite the fact her par­ents’ mar­riage was strug­gling as Bill Tapp suc­cumbed to drink and June Tapp re­fused to go un­der with him.

Toni’s love of the nat­u­ral world and peo­ple alike has re­sulted in a ten­der por­trait of a life that many peo­ple would con­sider tough. She brings vividly to the page a story sel­dom seen: a Ter­ri­tory child­hood, with all its colour, char­ac­ters and con­tra­dic­tions.

A Sun­burnt Child­hood by Toni Tapp Coutts is pub­lished by Ha­chette Aus­tralia, RRP $19.99.

Win! Win! Win! To win th­ese books, send your name, ad­dress and a day­time phone num­ber to Coun­try Life ‘Farm’ Com­pe­ti­tion, PO Box 8000, Shep­par­ton, 3632 by Wed­nes­day, March 8.

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