Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life – a loving boyfriend, a career she loves – but in one terrible moment, her life begins to unravel. The discovery that the death of her beloved sister, so many years ago, was not the accident she’d always been told makes her question all she’s known about herself.
Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, the beautiful bushland property where she grew up with her mother and sister, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been blocked in her memory. Snatches of her childhood with her beautiful sister, and Ruby’s only friendship – with the boy from the next property, a foster kid she’d play games with in the bush at midnight. Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol. Brenna is about to be hanged for murder, and Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence. As she reads, the gaps in Ruby’s memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core – about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.
©2014 Anna Romer (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
This was a really enjoyable book, romance, family secrets, intrigue, murder - it had it all. On top of all that there's Romer's wonderfully descrptive writing, creating images so real you could almost feel the dusty air.
The story takes you on a path, unravelling just enough to keep you interested without revealing the plot. Sometimes books that hop between past and present can be a bit tiresome, but Romer has managed to do it very well, the links between the various time frames blend easily and each makes sense to the overall story. Her characters were all strong and engaging, thus drawing you in further.
This was my first Anna Romer book, but I will definitely be looking out for another.
Eloise Oxer's narration was very good, and she brought the book to life
I couldn't finish listening to it . . . I hate to give up on a book, but I just . . .too many adjectives.
It was like listening to Marilyn Monroe with Asthma, it was better at 1.5 x speed, I even tried 2x speed . . . too breathy for me
This is just not the genre for me, the rest of the book club (who read the book, rather than listen) really enjoyed it.
"Not Great, Not Awful."
From the publisher's synopsis and the reviews I read, I was expecting history, romance, and a mystery. I would not have purchased this book if I had known that the story would be more like an "original movie" from a certain cable TV network known for "women's programming" that features stories of stalking, rape, abuse and murder. By the end of the book, it was a real bloodbath. The narration was only "okay," as well. The breathless vocal quality used throughout the book was mildly annoying. It wasn't the worst book I've ever heard. But the death, destruction and violence really wore on me.
"Nice writing... not my favorite genre"
This is an interesting story and nicely written, but more a romance ... not a mystery, which I prefer. The intertwining stories of generations involved in relationships can be a little confusing at first, but eventually they all come together. To balance the brutality described, there are some lovely descriptive passages about the natural setting at Lyrebird Hill. The narration Is good.
"I really wanted to like this"
This book is getting rave reviews and people seem to absolutely love it, so I think my negative review is an aberration.
The story was good, the narration was okay (although another reviewer commented on the breathless delivery and I concur) but I just couldn't get past the fact that every single man in this book is an absolute, insensitive, misogynistic, abusive clod. They are all giant wankers (I'm from Ohio and have no right to use that phrase, but it fits) who treat Ruby and Brenna abominably. What's more, Ruby and Brenna let them. I want Ruby to Armor-All Rob's stupid bathtub and Brenna to push "Fa Fa" down one of his beloved hillsides.
Like I said, the vast majority of listeners think this is an exceptional audiobook and it's obvious the author has tremendous talent. It's also possible that there was a turnaround in the latter half of the book, but I'm not sticking around to find out. I'm halfway through and I'm not going to finish!
I'm the apparent exception to the rule, I think this book is probably very good and it just hit a sore spot with me. I'm sorry I didn't like it and hope you enjoy it more than I did.
If you love Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra or other Australian "family drama" authors, this will be right up your alley! I enjoyed it thoroughly, and loved the plot twists and turns. I knocked off a star because it was a little slow in parts, but it didn't distract from the story. It's a little tough to get the flip-flopping from past to present just right, and there were a few times where I wanted the story line to stay on Ruby vs. Brenna, but it was still good. Highly recommend!
Not enough words in the English language to describe this self indulgent soap opera.
Nor can one forgive the breathy super melodramatic narration.
"Mystery, History, and Love in Australia"
Lyrebird Hill gripped my heart from the start . . . Ruby, the surviving sister, eighteen years after losing her sister, Jamie to what she thought was a horrible accident, cannot remember the day her sister died. And her mother won't speak of it. Ruby thinks she has moved on . . . thinks she's found some happiness . . . until she learns that her sister's death was no accident. With memories beginning to become more clear and the invitation of an old friend to visit her childhood home, Ruby decides to go in search of the truth . . . There is a depth and beauty to Anna Romer's writing that is breathtaking . . . you can almost see, feel, smell the Australian woods, streams and countryside . . . it's untamed, untouched wildness. And see the children playing, free and happy, without a care in the world in the bush and scrub along the streams. The dual story line of Brenna Magavin, Ruby's ancestor, a century before, and the natives who lived on the land, is equally as good. The mystery wrapped up in both Ruby and Brenna's stories kept me listening until the wee hours of the morning. And I must say, the conclusion was well worth the wait . . . This was my first Anna Romer book, but now I'm going back and buying her first book!
"I just couldn't get into this one."
I rarely return audiobooks, but after a couple of hours of listening I just couldn't get into it, so ended up returning it. I found the story dull and dry, and didn't particularly care for the narrator.
"Standing the Test of Time"
The title for this review comes from one of those unforeseen interruptions that happen to all of us. For over a week my little iPod just sat, without any attention from me. I wondered if I could pick Lyrebird Hill up again without having to start over or at least skip back a few hours. No problem! Romer's characters are so wonderfully constructed and revealed and Oxer's narration is so flawlessly done that I dropped right back into the midst of the story immediately. Although it's not a test of excellence that I would deliberately repeat, it sure did convince me of the overall quality of this audiobook.
I enjoyed Romer's first novel (Thornwood House) so much that I immediately downloaded Lyrebird Hill ...her second novel. A logical thing to do? Sure ... but, not the best idea. The themes and ambience of these two books are so similar that this listener would have benefitted from a palette refresh between the two books.
The themes are: 1. Old, remote, lovely home on large acreage in rural Australia. 2. Multiple generations of family with a connecting unsolved murder over the decades. 3. Revelations from young girls' diaries and letters written long ago. And several more that I won't repeat here. These similarities were so striking and unique that I googled Anna Romer wondering if she was writing about her own life experiences. Here is a Facebook bio extract: "Anna Romer is an Australian writer. Her novels Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill reflect her fascination with forgotten diaries and letters, dark family secrets, rambling old houses, and love in its many guises—as well as her passion for the uniquely beautiful Australian landscape."
In many ways my review of Thornwood House is accurate for Lyrebird Hill as well. Notably the excellence and lilt of Oxer's narrations, Romer's elegant capture of nature and wildlife, and her uncanny ability to weave stories across generations without leaving the listener in confusion. I recommend both books without reservation and I will listen to both of these books again at some point in the future. Just not back to back.
"Just get this book!"
This is a long listen, but very worthy of your time. The book is a slow, simmering brew of a mystery. Ms. Romer really knows how to weave a good tale.
The main character is named Ruby, and Ruby's live life is rolling along swimmingly, when something happens, and she returns to her homeland. Now is when the book starts to go back and forth in time, you have to listen closely or you're gonna be lost. Ruby comes home and memories flood her mind, good memories, then things start to happen that trigger some repressed memories. Memories of her life when she was a child.
Although the story is long, it is never boring, you will find yourself taking the long way home, or doing extra chores around the house, and stay up late at night, because you can, literally get lost in this story.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this title. There is no objectionable content, a shocking conclusion, and I cannot wait for another title from this author!
I would also highly recommend "Thornwood House" by this author.
"Sister Secrets and Great Grandmother Letters"
We all have grandparents who have their own interesting and sometimes sad stories. To know of them is a gift, and perhaps an understanding into our own lives.
This mystery of two sisters, their mother, and her grandmother run parallel, winding back and forth, tying the families together. Lots of lovely descriptions of flora and fauna of the Australian countryside. A throughly enjoyable read. A lucky pick from the sale list.
Yes definitely as I really enjoyed thornwood house.
The story was slow burning but as I got to know the characters things got muddled and the end was not very thrilling at all.
The narration was fine considering the material.
No characters could be cut from the story. It just lacked something.
After listening to thornwood I desperately wanted to hear more from this author but lyrebird hill was dreadful in comparison.
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