I wanted to take a few moments to tell you about "A Home Like Ours," a novel about a small town grappling with change. In general, human beings cling to the status quo and will do almost anything to avoid change. Too often it’s the fear of change rather than the change itself that causes the problems, so when a crime wave hits sleepy Boolanga everyone is in an uproar and ready to attribute blame.
"A Home Like Ours" is built around the theme of displacement, a topic I wanted to explore. Displacement comes in many guises and it swoops in—usually without warning—to cause chaos. Not only does it turn our lives upside down, it pushes what we assumed was normal and everyday to the point of being unrecognisable.
For Fiza, a refugee, war has displaced her from her home. For Helen, a woman in her late fifties, it’s ageism and poverty that have rendered her homeless. For Tara, displacement comes in the form of a chronic illness, and for nineteen-year-old Jade, it’s an unplanned pregnancy. All of them are struggling to make sense of their new world.
Of course a novel needs a central focus and in "A Home Like Ours" the lives of these four women circle around a community garden. The garden is a microcosm of the town and we see the best and the worst of human nature playing out, from racism and prejudice to acceptance and support.
I’ve been volunteering all my adult life—as an English tutor, sales manager for an amateur theatre company, Meals on Wheels delivery driver and secretary of a branch of the CWA, to name a few. Studies have shown volunteering gives back to us far more then we give, and for the most part, I agree. However, sometimes volunteering comes with as much politics as Canberra in the run-up to an election! I channeled some of my experiences when I wrote about Helen, Fiza and Jade, and the community garden committee.
The novel is set on the picturesque banks of the Murray River in northern Victoria. Great wines, world-class olive oil, beef, and fruit and vegetables make the area the food basket of the state. I enjoyed writing the scenery and the food into the novel almost as much as I enjoyed all the tastings along the Murray Farm Gate Trail during my research trip.
I hope you enjoy stepping into the lives of the characters in A Home Like Ours as they, like us, make mistakes while trying to live their best lives.