The comfort and escape of a good book…

As the lockdown in Melbourne continues, I find myself turning more and more to literature as a source of comfort and escape. Returning to fiction like old friends, I am reminded of the value of reading.

The beauty of fiction, I find, is its innate ability to lead a reader into another time and place. Why, you could curl up with a cup of tea and be halfway around the world in mere minutes!

I find that the current times have me returning to old favourites. But I have managed to read a few new novels in this second Melbourne ‘Lockdown’. Recently, I stepped back in time to 1705 Blois within Kate Murdoch’s novel, The Orange Grove

I simply couldn’t help but share my thoughts on this wonderful novel below.

Thinking about how this year has altered my usual reading habits, I am wondering if you have also noticed any changes to your reading or writing practice since the current global pandemic began? Are you gravitating to certain novels, for example?

Just something to ponder.

As always, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well.

Happy Reading!


P.S. If you are interested in learning more about writing historical fiction, I have also included a link to my latest video interview with Kate.

The Orange Grove Review

In these challenging pandemic days, I have sought for mental escape by returning to reading old friends on my bookshelves. Many of these novels I replaced because they were falling apart after years of re-reading. I know these books well, and trust them and their stories to leave me with hope, and not despair. I have avoided new books, because I wanted to be certain they offered me the right kind of escape. So, I was delighted to read The Orange Grove and find myself not only highly entertained, but also given the right kind of escape to another place and time, and a new book friend.

I loved the television series Versailles. Reading The Orange Grove felt to me like stepping into story that could be an offshoot of Versailles. Lush, lustful, decadent, yet all drawn together by thick, twisting stems of love and passion,The Orange Grove constructs a tale set in a true hot house. A hot house where women either flourish or perish.

The Orange Grove tells a tale of one wife, five mistresses and one duke, living together in a large chateau with their respective children. Rivals for the attention and love of one man, the four older women feel threatened when the duke brings a new, young mistress into the chateau. What these women are prepared to do for survival and supremacy is the core narrative of The Orange Grove. The novel also explores the relationships between these women – most of them unhealthy relationships. The oppressive environment of the chateau is like a climbing vine of ivy around mistresses and wife alike.

Murdoch pens well-rounded, believable, and very alive characters in this story. Her rich, visual and sensory prose crafts with immense skill the confined and controlled world of the chateau and the women who live there. She paints vivid, engaging word pictures painted on the page and draws us into her story, allowing us to see, taste and feel what her people see, taste and feel. From the first to last page, I was utterly engaged in Murdoch’s storytelling.

The Orange Grove constructs a powerful and thought- provoking metaphor for patriarchy. Patriarchy driving women to murder, and madness. Wonderfully researched and told, The Orange Grove is an enthralling read.


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