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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Fine Colour of Rust

The Fine Colour of Rust by P.A.O'Reilly  is a real charmer! I loved this extremely Australian novel.

Loretta, the laconic heroine, fantasizes about putting her two children into an orphanage and going on glamorous dates.  A single mother, she has come to the small country town of Gunapan to get away from her nasty ex and her nagging mother.  She relies on her close friendships with Norm and Helen and her ironic sense of humour to keep her spirits up.  Here, the country sounds of kookaburras and possums disturb her instead of the rumble of traffic. Norm, a handyman, is an engaging grandfatherly figure who owns a scrapyard which is regarded as 'dirty' by some of  the richer families of the town.

Loretta has many problems when her ex turns up with his 'child bride', the school is threatened with closure and she finds out about a mysterious development.  Loretta turns her energies to saving the school and finding out about the development.

She does derive some happiness when handsome Mel arrives in town and shows some interest. The women of the town certainly start buzzing about mysterious Mel. He is rather a change from the usual country types, although there is great excitement and a lot of humour when a 'witch' shows up.

These problems will test her but not nearly as much as Norm's battle with illness.  This will show Loretta what is really important in life, such as 'the vision splendid'.

I especially enjoyed P.A. O'Reilly's ability to sum up characters quickly so that you know exactly what they're like.  She writes about Loretta's ex as 'stomping' through her life, for example.  You know exactly what he's like.  She also describes the Mayor as slipping on 'the big scarlet cloak and the gold chain whenever he gets the chance'.

The Fine Colour of Rust is hilarious at times.  For example, silly Kyleen calls squid-ink pasta 'skidding pasta' in front of the visiting government minister and the people in town call Bosnia Herzegovina 'Bosnia Herzagobbler' until they learn better.  However, this well-written novel will also make you cry.

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