Jenn J McLeod’s latest novel, Season of Shadow and Light is part of her Seasons Quartet. However… if like me you haven’t read any of the others, there’s no need to panic as it didn’t seem to matter at all.
When Paige Turner’s 6yr old daughter Matilda comes across an old photograph of her (late) grandmother Paige makes the rash decision to travel to the photograph’s location—a place called Saddleton. Her mother Nancy died when Paige was young but she was raised by Alice, Nancy’s partner and is grateful for the ongoing role Nana Alice plays in her life and that of Matilda’s. Workaholic husband Robert is rarely home and their marriage struggling under the discovery of Robert’s recent infidelity.
Alice tries to discourage Paige from making the trip to Saddleton, but tags along when that fails. Things don’t go quite to plan however when the trio get stuck in (nearby) Coolabah Tree Gully, stranded by floodwaters.
Paige and Matilda are delighted with the hand fate’s dealt when a local family offer them accommodation. Matilda’s found a fast friend in young Liam while Paige enjoys the company of Liam’s mother Sharni and has a surprising affinity for the horses under her care. But it’s Sharni’s cousin Aiden who intrigues Paige. As a former restaurant reviewer and food editor Paige is attracted to the chef who left the city to return to his country roots.
Alice—on the other hand—cannot wait to leave. She is the keeper of secrets and knows why Paige’s mother Nancy left the area decades before. She promised her partner on her deathbed (like… literally) she would never reveal those secrets to anyone… particularly Paige who might never forgive her mothers if she found out.
Season of Shadow and Light started a little slowly for me. In fact, I almost put the book down several times. I was over 100 pages in before I really felt at all engaged in the plot. But, once there I was intrigued. McLeod, through Alice, slowly but surely shares secrets from the past and for much of the novel we’re left to ponder on the intricate relationships. For those old enough to remember the show… there’s a hint of Aussie 1980s TV show Sons and Daughters at play.
I much preferred the second third of the novel and was keen to uncover the secrets Alice was holding. At almost 470 pages this book was possibly a tad long and went over some of the same information a few times (such as Aiden’s relationship with property owner Rory and his breakup with former partner Renee).
However, I enjoyed this read more than I expected and think it will appeal to a wide audience.
Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod, published by Simon & Schuster Australia will be available on 1 May 2015.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.