Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Title: Under Southern Skies
Author: Anne McCullagh Rennie
Published: February 22, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: the publisher
Rating: 2 paws

From the blurb: Cate Perry's future couldn't look brighter. She's learning about life on the land, and has just completed her first solo flight over the vast Northern Territory cattle station she calls home. And she's falling in love - with handsome, gentle Alf. Then a tragic freak accident changes Cate's life forever. Grief and shame drive her to Tamworth, where she meets the talented Nat and quickly stumbles into a singing career. But fame begins to take its toll, and just when Cate least expects it, Alf steps back into her life. Will Alf and Cate face up to their feelings, or forever live with the consequences?

Under Southern Skies is set in the Northern Territory, Tamworth and later on, in Queensland. The story begins the day before Cate Perry's eighteenth birthday. She made a bet with her childhood friend, Alf Cristelli, that she would fly solo before she turned eighteen and today she plans on winning that bet. Cate lives at Twin Falls Station in the Northern Territory with her father, Brendan and her step-mother, Tahlia. Cate's mother died when she was nine years old and Brendan remarried two years later. At first Tahlia was a great addition to their family but since finding out that it's difficult for her and Brendan to conceive a child of their own, she has become moody and resentful towards Cate.

Cate wins her bet and flies solo, she's as excited as a girl can be but her happy bubble bursts when Tahlia announces that she's leaving Brendan and she goes to stay with some friends that afternoon. Cate immediately blames herself for the breakdown of her father's second marriage but she has to put this worry aside as tomorrow is not only her birthday but their annual muster and she is allowed to help out more this year. Twin Falls Station is a Brahman cattle farm and they will spend two weeks in the bush rounding up the cattle they need to sell. On the day of her first solo flight, Cate realised that she has feelings for Alf that she hadn't felt before and while on the trip, she attempts to make him jealous.

Soon a tragedy strikes at Twin Falls and Cate is forced to leave her family home. She spends some time living with the Cristelli family and then sets off for Tamworth to see if she can make it as a country singer. She gets a job working at a sheep station and has the fortune of meeting Nat and she joins his band, the Wild Knights.

Under Southern Skies isn't a book I would normally choose to read but when I was offered a copy for review I accepted because it is about a young adult and I thought it would be good to read something a bit different to what I usually read. Anne obviously loves Australia because the descriptions of the land were beautiful and the book definitely has a very Australian feel to it.

Cate was an interesting character and at times I really felt sorry for her. She suffers from anxiety and blames herself for so many things. She's susceptible to controlling and manipulative people and she's not very good at communicating her feelings. There was so much miscommunication between her and Alf and that was an issue for me because it's one thing that really annoys me in books, tv shows and movies. If Cate or Alf had spoken up about how they felt, they could have saved themselves a lot of time and heartbreak. Although in saying that, Alf wanted to let Cate go to Tamworth so she could follow her dreams and find out who she is and I respected him for putting her needs first. Cate started out very immature but by the end I think she had learnt a lot and she'd matured enough to start a more serious relationship and be secure in who she is.

My biggest issue with Cate was when she was working at the sheep station, she compares the sheep to her beloved Brahman cattle and considers them to be stupid and she doesn't mind working with them because there's less heartbreak involved when they're sent off to be slaughtered. I really don't understand how you can raise animals, in Cate's case cattle, say that you love them then send them off to be killed, but I'm sure most readers won't have the same issue with this that I did.

Rural fiction has always been available in Australia but it seems to be gaining popularity if the amount of new releases is any indication. I think a lot of readers would enjoy Under Southern Skies, a book about a young girl, set in the outback of Australia.

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge


Disincentive said...

You're welcome ;) I will try to comment more anyway! Wohoo :D

Disincentive @ (read, watch, listen) - reviews

Jasprit said...

Nice review Mandee, the blurb makes it sound like a real interesting read, but then after reading you're review I don't think it would be my typical read. Thanks for the great honest review :)

Pocketful of Books said...

Great review! This sounds intriguing- I don't read much rural fiction either really! I agree that I don't understand her getting less attached to the sheep- I get attached to any animal I SEE let alone raise, so it seems strange!

Thanks for dropping by earlier- lovely to hear from you again! x

Sophie said...

I love longer reviews like this, it's nice when they're short, but this one was really informative and left me with a taste of what I thought the book would be like. I would actually like to read this one, I see so many reviews on gothic romance novels, a genre I'm somewhat less interested in, this was a nice change of pace.
It would also be a nostalgic read, as I spent a year in Australia a couple years ago.

If you get a minute, I would really appreciate it if you could take a look at my blog? It would mean the world.

Sam said...

This sounds like an interesting read! I can understand why the animal part bothered you being a vegan. The rest sounds like a good read and I'll have to check it out. Nice review! :)

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I would definitely have the same issue with the animals that you did, It always breaks my heart. I can't watch movies where the animals died. Thanks for giving me the heads up on that, much appreciated.

readingdate said...

The story sounds interesting, but like you I would have a hard time reading about the animal slaughtering. The other aspects of the story do appeal to me though. Thanks for introducing this one!

Shelleyrae said...

I think rural lit in general would be difficult fro you since in most instances they are raising cattle or sheeep as stock. Thanks for sharing your review

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Jac said...

Ugh - I would struggle with the whole animal thing. That aside? This sounds like a book I'd really like! (I always love the Australian scenery, and I can't get enough of it!)

Thanks for the great review :)

-Jac @ For Love and Books

Lux said...

Mandee, I agree with you one hundred percent – I do not understand how people can “love” animals, yet willingly send them to their deaths. It makes me so sad. (Excellent review, anyway!) x

Wendy Darling said...

As much as I like the idea of reading about a girl in rural country, I'm not sure this is the book for me--the things you described would probably annoy me too, hah. Nicely reviewed, Mandee!

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

Mandee said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! <3

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