This second novel by Australian author Sandie Docker explores the lives of three damaged souls in a small town with a big heart.
When Nicole leaves her Sydney life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, she is hoping to be able to keep to herself. Like all best laid plans, it quickly unravels when a box of wartime love letters, a weighty renovation project, some curious and friendly locals and a cantankerous hermit named Charlie proceed to present an irresistible draw on her time and attention.
‘The Cottage at Rosella Cove’ is a lovingly drawn portrait of small town Australia and the characters who inhabit it. Docker does a brilliant job of drip-feeding the backstories of newcomer Nicole, letter-writer Ivy and mysterious character Charlie through enticing flashbacks and heartbreaking revelations. The township is peppered with residents who light up the pages and remain completely likeable even while intruding upon Nicole’s solitude and getting involved (mostly without being asked) in her business.
The gradual restoration of Ivy’s cottage at the hands of the inexperienced Nicole and her willing helpers creates a perfect, if unsubtle, metaphor for the gradual rebuilding of her peace and happiness following a situation gone horribly bad, and provides a setting so vividly written that it almost feels like you could reach out and touch the dust on the hearth. The Cottage, as indicated by its presence in the book’s title, is absolutely one of the main characters of the story.
Docker’s pacing is excellent, with the flashbacks kept detailed enough to engage, vague enough to maintain tension, and short enough that they never truly halt the momentum of the present day storyline. A warning: If you are not a fan of incomplete details or unresolved storylines, there may be a moment or two of frustration at the end.
It’s a story of love and loss, grief and hope, and the enduring power of friendship. A fabulous second offering by this Sydney author.