30 March 2023

Review: THE FORTHRIGHT WOMAN, Darry Fraser

Synopsis (publisher)

Widow Marcella Ross won't let anything - or anyone - stop her from discovering the truth behind a deadly family mystery ... Mystery and romance collide in this compulsive historical adventure from a bestselling Australian author.

1898, South Australia

At the gateway to the Flinders Ranges lies Kanyaka Station, once a thriving sheep and cattle property, now abandoned and in ruins. But a discovery in her late mother's papers draws recently widowed Marcella Ross out to its remote landscape in search of clues to the disappearance of her Uncle Luca, an Italian immigrant whose fate seems to have been bound up in that of his mysterious partner - also long-since vanished. When Marcella is accosted by a daunting stranger, she discovers he too is entangled in the secrets of the past. Tragedy and obsession threaten Marcella's fragile independence, so how far will she have to go to unlock the secrets of Kanyaka - or solve the puzzle of her own future?


After learning that they are unlikely to have children, Frances and Joe MacDonald have taken the unusual step of buying a caravan and travelling together through the outback. They stop at Kanyaka Station, where Fran becomes mesmerised by the past. Family lore holds that an ancestor met an untimely end amid the desolate ruins. But what truly happened, and to whom, at the isolated station? As fate alters the course of her life, Fran's footsteps echo another woman's from so long ago ...

As the mystery unravels, will these two women have the chance to take control of their own destinies? 

My Take

I've had a number of recommendations by friends that I should pick up a book by this Australian author. The opening pages of this novel tell me this is the author's eighth Australian fiction novel, and it is set in the Flinders Ranges and the Barossa Valley. It is also set in at least two time frames (both historical) with many links between the two. In the Author notes at the end, I learnt of the author's own connections to the general outline of the story.

Although crimes have been committed, this novel is historical "romance" rather than crime fiction, and will have obvious appeal to Australian readers. And while this is the first novel I have read by this author, I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.

My rating: 4.4

About the Author

Darry Fraser fell in love with the great Murray River when her family moved to her childhood town of Swan Hill in Victoria. Stories of the river have been with her ever since and it's where a number of her novels are set. Her stories are of ordinary people in nineteenth century Australia who are drawn into difficult circumstances - adventure, mystery and mayhem, love and life, and against the backdrop of historical events. Darry lives on Kangaroo Island, an awe-inspiring place off the coast of South Australia.

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