If I had only three words to describe Paddy O’Reilly’s The Fine Colour of Rust, they would be warm, witty and wise. The tone is wry and while it has it’s laugh out loud moments, Loretta who is a single mum with two children living in a dusty town called Gunapan, is fighting battles on various fronts. She is trying to protect her children from her hopeless ex, save the school, find a real man amongst her fantasies and not give in to the urge to dump the kids at the orphanage.
Norm, an older neighbour who has been her rock since the husband left has fingers in every pie and reminds her of the basic goodness of people. But when a favourite lush green bit of bush near the town is suddenly cleared, Loretta becomes involved in finding out what dodgy dealings have been going on. This involves another ill-fated committee, and anyone who has ever served on a committee will recognise the participants. There is the firebrand, the organiser, the pessimist, the optimist and those who are there just to eat the biscuits. All SO familiar.
The book is deceptive in that it manages to cover so many ‘issues’ but with such a light touch that you never feel preached to. Apart from no-good husbands and corrupt councillors there is school bullying, refugees, illness and death and petty crime. All in a small town struggling to survive.
The book is an absolute delight. Highly Recommended. $25