Can Ros and Grady move on from the past, or will their pain drive them apart? Six years ago, the Balfours lost their son Cadel to a hit-and-run driver. A few months ago, Ros discovered Grady's affair. With their marriage fast disintegrating, they decide to take a three-month camping trip into the heart of Australia to try and mend deep wounds and rekindle the fire that once fused them close. This trip will decide the fate of their relationship: do they have enough strength and enough love left to accept what life has put them both through? But trust and forgiveness don't come easily, and Ros and Grady have to navigate not only the wilderness of the Outback and the challenges of other travellers, but also the chasm of grief and bitterness they have sunk into over the last six years. Their only hope for survival lies in facing the secrets they have both tried to keep buried...
My review of this book:
This is one of the most difficult and challenging books I have ever read. I could only read it in small chunks at a time because it was so confronting for me. I considered stopping reading it twice when I was too raw after reading certain chapters but felt compelled to continue. I finished it today and just sat there for a good ten minutes staring at my kindle in a kind of daze. I can't remember the last time a book affected me this much. And now this is one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write. The reason for that is that I'm fearful I won't do the book or the author justice. This story is no less than a masterpiece. Maggie Bolitho's writing is eloquent, stunning, succinct, lyrical, and incredibly heart-breaking. A mother grieving her only child, a marriage that is falling apart at the seams, memories of an abusive childhood. A backdrop of the equal parts beautiful and cruel Australian Outback. The story is confronting, raw and will challenge any married woman or mother to go to places in her head that she doesn't want to go to. But boy is that journey worth it. Maggie Bolitho is beyond gifted, this book is beyond brilliant. The layers, the plotting, the language. Honestly I don't feel articulate enough to do it justice. Just read it.
Shortly after my 17th birthday I set out to see the world, or at least large parts of Canada. I lived in four of Canada’s major cities before eventually moving to Australia where I married the love of my life.
While living Down Under, I explored the Outback and started writing fiction. Some of my adult short stories have been included in different anthologies in Australia, the US, and Canada. My poetry has been published in Quills Canadian Poetry magazine.
In 2007 my husband and I returned to Canada. We settled in a leafy suburb on the island where I grew up. We divide our time between Victoria and Salt Spring Island where we enjoy forest hikes and walks along rocky beaches. We no longer wish to be anywhere else, except when memories of Australia's golden shores and beautiful bushland rise in our hearts.
November 2015 my adult novel, Outback Promise, was released by HarperCollins Australia.
In 2014 my debut novel, Lockdown, was released by Great Plains Teen Fiction.
To learn more about Maggie, visit her website http://www.maggiebolitho.com/
An interview with Maggie Bolitho:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
Outback Promise is a story of devastating loss, bitter betrayal, and the long dusty road of reconciliation.
After their only child was killed in a tragic road accident, Ros and Grady grew apart. Haunted by the shadow of death and mortality, Grady had an affair.
Grady and Ros’s first marriage, the one based on unquestioning trust, was over.
The book opens with Ros anticipating Grady’s request for a divorce. Instead, he asks her to join him on a trek through the Australian desert to try to rebuild the love that once held them fast. He hopes they can have a second marriage together but Ros is doubtful.
I wrote Outback Promise to explore how grief can skew a person’s perception of life. Ros’s unreliable narration of some of the events that followed the loss of Cadel reflects her personal darkness.
I also wanted to look at how this particular marriage would weather infidelity. I honestly didn’t know which way it would go until almost the final draft.
What do you love the most about the main character in your book?
I admire Ros’s reticence with sorrow and heartache. She is the polar opposite of me. When my heart is breaking I gather friends close and talk it out. I seek help. I could never hold my grief private like she does. Her fortitude after so much loss is commendable.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope people realize how isolating grief can be, that there may not be a lot we can do for a bereaved person other than let them know we are there and willing to talk when they are ready.
Also I hope that people see that affairs – both sexual and psychological – do redefine relationships but that there are choices in what happens next.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
The playlist that I listened to throughout the writing of Outback Promise is all about the lyrics, like most of my music collection.
Every song on that list has words that are meaningful at some point in the novel. It’s not an extensive playlist because I can’t listen to music while writing. Videos of most of the songs were compiled into YouTube list here by the wonderful people at BooksChatter.
The one song that resonates through the whole book is Meet Me Halfway by the Black Eyed Peas.
I love the way Fergie keeps imploring her love to meet her halfway. Meanwhile the male singer is saying he’ll go around the world, sail the seven seas, go uptown and downtown.
It’s easy to imagine Ros and Grady having that same oblique ‘where are you, I’m here’ conversation.
The best part of the song is the last chorus when she asks him to meet her halfway and his answer is yup.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
It would have to be Shelly. She is so certain about what she wants from life and how she’s going to get it, I envy her. Confident in herself and her goals, she doesn’t look back on her failures, just keeps moving forward.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you were published?
Writing is a very long game. Something you do today may not pay off or even be reflected in your work until years later. Be patient. Keep working. I did keep working but I was often impatient, submitting work that wasn’t quite polished enough.
Also, I wish I realised the generosity of other writers at the outset of my writing career. Being extremely introverted, I remained a classic ‘writer in a grotto’ for the longest time. It was hard to make myself get out and meet people, even online. When I did, I was thrilled by how supportive other writers were. I try to pay this generosity forward.
What is the most surprising thing you learned from being published?
I didn’t realise how this book would take on a life of its own or how much I would learn from readers’ comments and reviews after it was published. I think I understand it much better now than I did at any point in the seven or eight years it took to write it.
What is your favourite motivational phrase or quote?
Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. ~ Thomas Edison.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) because I imagined myself in a red serge jacket riding a magnificent black horse in the Musical Ride. It didn’t occur to me that I might end up in a standard police uniform, writing speeding tickets in a small Canadian town.
What was the first grown up novel you ever read and how did it shape you?
Brave New World. I was barely 14 and it scared me half to death and intrigued me at the same time. It was probably the first time I ever thought about issues like conformity and challenging authority. Our junior high librarian was unimpressed. She demanded to know why I was reading ‘that tripe’ in library class. The girl in front of me was reading a Harlequin romance and Miss Elliott didn’t raise an eyebrow.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Thank you so much for reading my book! I am truly grateful. I welcome your comments and / or reviews.