The Grazier’s Wife
Barbara Hannay, an Australian author, has recently come to the US market with the publication of The Grazier’s Wife. Set in WWII Singapore and a present-day homestead in rural Queensland, Australia, Hannay weaves together the stories of Stella, Jackie, and Alice. Stella Drummond, a young Australian nurse in Singapore, falls in love with Tom, a British soldier, but obstacles will force them apart. Jackie Drummond, Stella’s daughter-in-law, is the wife of a rancher, and she discovers a devastating secret that will have consequences for their family. Alice Miller, a furniture restorer, is new to the area and falls for Seth, Jackie’s son, but Alice has problems from her past that she must deal with if she is ever to find happiness.
The Grazier’s Wife is the perfect summer book, and while it is a bit predictable in places, it is still compulsively readable. With her three main characters, Hannay brings several issues to the forefront, touching upon domestic violence, alcoholism, PTSD, and what to do with a skeleton in a closet. In the middle of this, Stella, Jackie, and Alice must each grapple with the decision to either live with the choices they have made or find the courage to change, despite the consequences that might have on their loved ones.
Ultimately, the reader is drawn into the stories of these women, two of whom are graziers’ wives and the third is a potential grazier’s wife. My only criticism is I would have loved to have more of Stella’s experiences in WWII-era Singapore. Hannay brings cosmopolitan Singapore alive with the love story of Stella and Tom, and she captures the carefree attitude the city had before the Japanese began bombing it. I wanted more!