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Published January 31st 2019
The place of new beginnings
Photo courtesy Dymocks
This pink covered novel caught my eye as soon as I entered the bookshop. It looked instantly cheery and the title sounding whimsical and romantic. When I started reading The Cottage at Rosella Cove, I realised that the story had all of these qualities, but also a coating of pain, tragedy and life lessons. So what is it about?
We follow the experiences of lead character Nicole Miller - a published, award-winning author, who is engaged to a successful lawyer named Mark and is living in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Surry Hills.
Things seem ideal until Nicole suffers a series of devastating life events including the loss of a child and the realisation that not only is Mark manipulating but he has also been syphoning money out of her account. Their relationship becomes increasingly toxic and with limited money and without the support of any family or friends she decides to leave Sydney and disappear without a trace to start a new life.
She answers the chance opportunity to rent a rundown, but formerly much loved historic cottage in Rosella Cove, with the understanding that she must complete minor renovations to bring back its former beauty. Soon after arriving she is embraced by the community of this tight-knit town who help with the renovations and open their homes and hearts to their new neighbour.
As she starts the renovations, Nicole discovers a series of old handwritten letters from the former owner, Ivy Wilson, written to her late husband Tom whom she lost during World War 2. The emotive letters give Nicole an insight into Ivy, the town of Rosella Cove and the significance of the cottage. As a bonus, Ivy and her letters become a companion to Nicole as she looks forward to opening one letter each day.
Along the way Nicole encounters, a crusty old recluse named Charlie who lives in the boatshed by the water and who holds a lifetime of secrets including links to Ivy. But what are they?
The book is rich in likeable Australian characters who offer an insight in rural, Australian life, like supporting the local footy team and the mandatory trivia nights which are a must-do social occasion.
Dominant themes of this Australian novel are:
the capacity to find a sense of family wherever you are
- dealing with aloneness and loss
- new beginnings for which the cottage became a metaphor
- facing the past in order to live a productive future.
My only disappointment was that the conclusion wasn't as neatly tied up as I normally like. There were some unanswered questions but I guess that leaves it open to our own imaginations and leaves room for us to create our ideal conclusion.
Overall, it was a delightful read across its 342 pages and delivered what the alluring cover suggested it might. As an added bonus, it includes book club questions to open a discussion with friends. It also ends with an extract from the author's first novel to tempt reading another.
About the Author - Sandie Docker
Sandie Docker grew up in Coffs Harbour. Her love of Women's Fiction began when she first read Jane Austen for the HSC. She lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café, was released in April 2018, and The Cottage at Rosella Cove is the follow-up.