THE FOLD BOOK CLUB // Black Bones Red Earth By Lee Richie
There’s something about epic stories that cross countries, cultures and decades that get us a bit emotional. And when that story is primarily set in the unforgiving world of the Australian outback in the 1950’s, when life was simple but hard and the land beautiful but harsh, that’s guaranteed to get the heart rate going and the heart strings pulled even more.
Black Bones Red Earth is a brand new novel by Southern Highlands author, Lee Richie. Based in Hill Top, Lee’s description of life on an outback station in the mid 20th century jumps from the pages. You can almost feel the dust in your throat, the heat on your back and the fear of what the land (or the people) will throw up next.
Black Bones Red Earth tells the story of Katherine, an orphan of the Second World War. She is sent to Australia and handed over to a couple running a farm beyond Broken Hill. Her mistreatment and subsequent response is both frightening and inspiring, then frustrating but understandable. She makes friends with the indigenous workers and learns about the land and their culture – it is their friendship that helps her get through the days.
Lee spent hours with Gundungurra Elders learning about their history, culture and the stolen generation.
“I thank them so much for allowing me sit and yarn, week after week during the writing of this novel. It’s what has allowed me to tell this tale with a measure of authenticity,” Lee says.
The character of Katherine was actually inspired by Lee’s own mum.
“In her eighties, Mum revealed to us she was an orphan as a child and had kept this fact hidden from us all her life!” he says.
The harrowing world of Katherine’s earlier life becomes hidden in the past, but a secret letter brings everything out into the open and Katherine is forced to relive a childhood that never was and a love that could never be.
Now, we’re not going to give you any spoilers here because it was quite the page turner! But we WILL say we got a little teary at the end (and there were a few ‘bloody hells’ in the middle!).
You can buy Black Bones Red Earth at bookstores online - click here for more info.
About the Author
Lee Richie was born and grew up in Liverpool, England. One married and with three sons in tow, Lee and his wife moved to Canada for ten years before settling in Australia in the early 1990’s. A long career in management that took him across the and around the globe, has now taken a back seat to a full time writing career from his home in Hill Top in the Southern Highlands. Lee is also the author of a young adult novel called Alexander Bottom & the Dreamweaver’s Daughter.
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