Oct 08

Review: The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

Review: The Patterson Girls by Rachael JohnsThe Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns
Published by Harlequin Mira on October 2015
Genres: contemporary, romance & chicklit
Source: Purchased

How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them?

When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.

The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.

Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.

A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.

I read my first Rachael Johns’ novel about a year ago and I’ve read several since, enjoying the interesting characters, engaging dialogue and rural Australian setting.

Rachael’s latest title, the newly released The Patterson Girls, is a slight change of pace from her previous ‘rural romance’ books like Outback Blaze. While many of the familiar factors are there – remote, rural setting, entertaining banter between characters, romantic entanglements – this novel is more contemporary fiction than rural romance (for those who find such distinctions important).

With all four Patterson sisters introduced in the opening chapter, it did take me a little while to get the characters straight in my own mind, which made the first couple of chapters seem a little slow. Once I managed to work out which sister connected with which occupation, town, and relationship, things moved along much faster and I was drawn into the unfolding family drama.

I enjoyed the interactions between the sisters. Their relationships were a combination of love, childhood grudges and frustrations, tenderness and tension, just like so many real-life sibling relationships. There family gathering also highlighted the pros and cons of small town life where everyone knows everyone else and privacy is hard to find. It was also good to see diverse viewpoints shared on the topic of motherhood, with the four sisters and also several secondary characters used to add to the variety of perspectives.

As with Rachael’s other books, I enjoyed the humour in the dialogue, and the confident female characters, who despite their flaws and occasional missteps, are determined to play a central role in shaping their own futures. The relationships were interesting and the different approach of each sister to the various family challenges reflected the complexity of the real world.

With four central characters, at least one additional couple, and three older characters (two women and one man) with backstories of their own, I did find it hard to really connect with a particular storyline and there was a lot to keep track of in the final chapters as each storyline was resolved. The multiple characters did create a diverse range of personalities and perspectives on the various challenges, however, giving The Patterson Girls the warm feeling of a catch-up at a large family reunion rather than a more intense, meaningful one on one conversation.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Patterson Girls. It’s an entertaining novel about sisters, motherhood, family connections and love. A great weekend read.

There are reading group notes available for this book and you can read Rachael’s answers to my Books Writers Read questions here.

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1 comment

  1. Kaz Delaney

    Great, great review, Susan. I love Rach as a person and as an author. She’s already hitting headlines and she has a huge career ahead of her.

    However, I hadn’t read this book and now after your review, I’m really anxious to do so! I love family entanglements, and the ‘sister relationship/dynamic’ is often a tricky one. I always envy those who have such close bonds with their sisters as I think there is nothing more precious.

    Thank you again – an excellent review. Fair and enticing.

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