4 out of 4 stars
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Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linane
This book wove such a descriptive tale of the life and days of young Natalie. Natalie’s family and daily goings-on were detailed beautifully in this novel as her life unfolded in the pages of this book. The author, Jennie Linane, brings the story to life with vivid imagery, deep pulls on emotion and the ties that bind and break us in our everyday lives.
Natalie’s life revolves around her tight knit family with her mother, Irma, whose silent strength is embedded in young Natalie. The aging patriarch grandpa, whose gentleness emanates through his interactions with his younger generation. She has a younger brother, whose simple attitude toward life is steady and loyal as evident when he deals with a misdeed that causes him to act out criminally in defense of his family. Her younger siblings, Shirley and Robyn, who look up to her and need Natalie as they deal with the abuse they see and the tough times they make the best of together. One such time where they come together as a family, is when their sibling is wronged by a pretentious family friend’s child who they give a hilarious punishment to for his wrongdoing.
For Natalie the untold tale and pieced together history of her father, Johnny Chapman is Natalie’s past and a tale that has been kept from her until her grandfather feels it is the right time to tell her about her biological father and the love story between Johnny and her mother. The sordid tale twists and turns painfully for Natalie but she learns about who she came from and how that has become a part of her life in the present. Her headstrong tact and determined personality helps her to forge her way in the world as a young woman, a daughter, an older sibling, and a cow owner.
The hard drinker, Sam Teagle and the kind Glover’s who employ Natalie weave a beautiful story of how Natalie grows and churns through adolescence earning wages, maintaining what is rightfully hers, and becomes a woman in a most undignified way with a married man who becomes so much more to Natalie as her life unfolds. The kind gardener and cook at the Glover’s are her confidantes and the wise and formidable Mrs. Glover expands Natalie’s education through art, poetry, and instruction in the fine art of painting.
Natalie’s trials and tribulations with her stepfather are woven throughout the story and allow Natalie to truly become the woman she is as she faces his wrath, rage, and twisted affection toward her mother. Natalie’s life and tale is beautifully depicted in this story which was a tremendous glimpse into the hard life of an extended family who will protect one another and stand proudly together. I rate this book a 4 out of 4!
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