RETURN TO ROSEGLEN is a departure from Helene’s previous novels, but I love this new direction she’s taken. It’s such a relevant story for our current climate, it couldn’t be more on point at a time when Australians are deep in discussion about the treatment of older Australians and when our farmers have been brought to their knees by drought. These issues are seen through the wise eyes of the wonderful matriarch, Ivy Dunmore, who you won’t be able to help but fall in love with. Ivy’s daughter, Felicity, is also completely real and relatable and my heart went out to her too. I love seeing strong older women portrayed so well in contemporary fiction.
This is a touching, thought provoking and parochially Australian novel that I hope you all adore as much as I did. It’s the kind of story that will resonate with many of us because of the realistic portrayal of families. Oh and the scene setting is absolutely stunning too, it made me miss this beautiful part of the world and long to go back!
Congratulations beautiful Helene on a wonderful new book! Here’s to many more to come.
At times like these families should be coming together, not tearing each other apart.
On her remote North Queensland cattle station, Ivy Dunmore is facing the end of her days. Increasingly frail, all she holds dear is threatened not just by crippling drought, but by jealousy and greed – and that’s from within her own family.
Can Felicity, who's battling her own crisis as her fiftieth birthday approaches, protect her mother and reunite her family under the homestead's faded iron roof? Or will sibling rivalries erupt and long-held secrets from the past break a family in crisis?
From award-winning Australian author Helene Young comes a story about family fractures and feuds in later life – and about loved ones being there for each other when it matters the most.
Angus and Robertson Bookworld
An interview with Helene Young:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
Return to Roseglen is about the strength and blindness of a mother’s love. It’s about adult children stepping up and taking charge, it’s about family fractures and fault lines. It’s about three generations of women navigating grief and forgiveness as a life draws to a close.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I really, really hope the first thing my readers do is phone or visit their parents and say ‘I love you’. Then I hope they go away and talk about elder abuse and how insidious and subtle it can be. How easy it is for it to happen on anyone’s watch… I hope they take extra care with their parents, ensure no matter how busy their lives that they to listen to their parent’s stories and make their peace before it’s too late.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Three years ago, just as I was starting the book, I lost my mum. That first draft was raw and emotional and cathartic. It needed to be written so I could move on, but shortly after that I lost a dear friend also in her early nineties. Then my mum-in-law became seriously ill and my husband flew to England to be with her. I spent five weeks at the Townsville Library, missing him, fretting about her, and rewriting the story until it was hopefully uplifting and empowering. I’m sure the librarians worried about me on the days when the tears wouldn’t stop but neither would the words…
How did you go about researching the settings and scenarios in your book?
Talking to people about their experiences is crucial for me. Sadly, I heard far too many sad and tragic stories about elder abuse and family members betraying the trust that had been placed in them. I hope I’ve done those stories justice in Return to Roseglen.
The setting in North Queensland is somewhere I know and love well. A friend took me for a flight in his helicopter over Mt Mulligan (Ngarrabullgan) – it’s an extraordinary escarpment west of Cairns with a commanding presence – and it too claimed a place in the story. Chillagoe’s amazing limestone caves has always been a favourite place to visit so it was inevitable that they too would be crucial to the plot, although I’ve played with the topography…
Which Hollywood stars would you like to see play the lead roles in the movie version of your book?
Ha, what fun!! Judi Dench to play Ivy with an autocratic tilt of her chin. Helen Mirren is Georgina with more front than Harrods or Bloomingdale’s. Felicity would suit Nicole Kidman and beautiful young Ella would be perfect for Emma Stone! A sunburnt Hugh Jackman for Mitch – and if he’s too busy then whichever Hemsworth lad is free will be fine!
What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
You can’t edit a blank page! It’s an absolute truth and when the inevitable doubts pop up I remind myself that anyone can tell a good story, but it takes determination (and a wonderful editorial team) to publish a good book!
Do you write with a plan or do you see where the story takes you?
I’m an organic writer (with thanks to Kate Forsyth for that terminology) who goes along for the ride as the characters evolve. Once I finish the first draft I sit down, plot out the story arcs, check the characters’ journeys and make sure it’s balanced. The one and only time I’ve plotted an ending I had to throw it out as I was bored with my own story – I knew how it was going to end so where was the fun in that??
How many other books have you had published? Which one is your favourite?
Return to Roseglen is my 7th novel and it’s my favourite. Before it was released I think I would have said Burning Lies, but really, it’s liking asking which family member is your favourite… Too tough to call…
Tell us something interesting about where you live.
I live on a yacht called Roo Bin Esque (because she’s a sexy voluptuous girl) and my back yard is ever changing as we sail around Australia. I love the nomadic lifestyle and being on the water. The upside of having to give up my career as an airline pilot because of ill-health is that at least I’ve been able to go sailing!
Describe a typical day in your life.
I wake up with the sun most days so depending on where we’re anchored that can be really early in summer on the Great Barrier Reef or quite late in Victoria in the depths of winter. Before brekkie it’s a run through social media, check emails and see what’s in store for the day. After brekkie we’ll take the dinghy ashore and explore. If it’s a writing day then we’ll be home for lunch and then it’s time to work. I try and write for at least four hours a day. The social life in an anchorage can be quite hectic but if we’re staying aboard then after dinner I’ll do more social media things, and upload my photos from the day. Then it’s time to head to bed. I usually read in bed for an hour or so before turning on the anchor alarm and turning out the lights!