BOOK CLUB: The Lost Valley

Author: Jennifer Scoullar
ISBN: 978-1-925827-00-2
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 27th August 2018
Publisher: Pilyara Press
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Lost Valley is the second book in The Tasmanian Tales trilogy by Jennifer Scoullar but it is one that I think would stand on its own merits if you came to it without having read Fortune’s Son. It has been so long since I read the first book, and I no longer have the time to go back and re-read, that I don’t remember it clearly so it wasn’t fresh in my mind and that didn’t make a difference. I will be interested to read what our members thought if they hadn’t read Fortune’s Son.

Tom and Harry Abbott are orphaned in 1929, at 10 years old, when their parents are killed in tragic circumstances. They can’t stay in Hobart so they are sent to live with their estranged grandmother, Isabelle Abbott, in the Binburra ranges. The move allowed the boys space to grieve, and to grow. Tom fell in love with the wild woods surrounding his new home and made the most of the room to roam and explore. Harry grew a festering resentment towards his twin and a wildness that would not be tamed.

The Abbott twins are as different as twins could be, and they always have been. Harry was the apple of his father’s eye with his interest in maths and the family businesses where Tom was more interested in aviation and books. The bond Harry shared with his father was much stronger than Tom’s, who shared a special bond with his mother. They both missed their parent’s terribly but it was Harry who vowed to track down the person responsible and seek vengeance.

The Lost Valley spans decades and watches over many changes in the world, yet it is a much smaller page count than I would have expected. The twins grow up in the remote Tasmanian mountains and instead of the isolation bringing them closer it seems to allow cracks to form in their bond and rivalries to grow.

Isabelle Abbott was quite reclusive when she took on the boys, retreating into herself after the death of her husband. Her time with the grandsons she had been estranged from helps to bring her back to life, reignite her passions for life and for conservation.

Once again Scoullar has penned a tale of the untamed Tasmanian wilds, the plight of the Tasmanian tiger and the fight that conservationists and naturalists put up to protect the natural habitats and the process of creating National Parks. This environmental side of the story is deftly woven into a tale of sibling rivalry, love, jealousy and romance against a backdrop much bigger than the Tasmanian forests.

Six years in the mountains and finally things come to a head, it’s clear that they need more than can be offered at Binburra so they head into Hobart. Tom meets Emma, a girl about his age with similar ideals, and they spend some time together until she needs to race home to a sick mother. Harry finds a job and stays on in the city while Isabelle and Tom return to their mountain home.

The Lost Valley is the tale of Tom and Harry through the years of apprenticeships, the second world war, love, courtship, marriage and tragedy. It is a tale of sinister rivalry between brothers and the resounding effect bad blood can have for years, the lengths that some will go to.

Scoullar has penned characters that are real and relatable in situations I don’t even want to fathom. This was a story that definitely set me on an emotional roller coaster.

Emma was a young girl who had to step in when her mum had a stroke, leaving her studies and her job behind; as well as her volunteer work in the Zoo. She was left to support her family, do all she could to support her mum’s recovery and in the end she also had to find work. She found herself in a horrible position with very few options and she did what she had to do for her family. She was young and naïve but she was also strong and resourceful. She was an admirable young lady who had to face far too much in her life.

The Lost Valley takes us far from the valley and into Hobart, London and the middle of World War II where a pilot with nothing left to lose risks it all. This is a story that paints a vibrant picture of the Tasmanian mountains and tells an intriguing tale of twins ripped apart by resentment, jealousy and greed.

The Lost Valley is an historical saga that will capture your heart and your imagination. I would recommend it to fans of intricate family drama, passion and romance with an environmental vein.

I love the ending, and it has left me wanting to know what comes next. Not a cliffhanger must know but a sneaky little tease that leaves it open for another book a decade or two down the track. I will be interested to see where it goes from here, but I’m also satisfied with the way it all wrapped up.

The Lost Valley is #37 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Jennifer Scoullar can be followed on Facebook, JenniferScoullar.com and Twitter.

The Lost Valley is published by Pilyara Press and is available now through Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pilyara Press 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Lost Valley so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

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