Cover image for Windflowers : a novel of Australia
Windflowers : a novel of Australia
McKinley, Tamara.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
368 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Piatkus, 1999.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Claire has left behind the harshness of life in the outback for college and a career in Sydney. Estranged from her family, she is about to take up a position at a prestigious veterinary practice when her Great Aunt Aurelia summons her home to the family cattle station in Queensland. Claire's relationship with her parents and sister has never been easy, and it is the reunion with her indomitable mother, Ellie, she dreads the most. But coming from a long line of Warratah women famed for their grit and substance, Claire knows better than to shy away from a fight.

Ellie accepts that a reconciliation with her eldest daughter is long overdue. But to do so will mean she must face her own ghosts and reveal some of Warratah's more shameful secrets. She only hopes her family is strong enough to survive the coming storm.

Author Notes

Tamara McKinley was born and raised in Australia. Adopted by her grandmother, she was eventually brought to England to finish her education. Tamara McKinley lives on the south coast of England, and writes full-time, but travels back to Australia frequently to visit her eldest son and do research for her books. She is the author of Matilda's Last Waltz and Jacaranda Vines.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Novels of family secrets are often overwrought, but McKinley's novel of Australia is rarely over the top. Instead her characters are restrained and controlled. This is due, in part, to the fact that the story is told in a long series of flashbacks by Ellie Freeman and her aunt Aurelia, and partly to the fact that the family secret isn't revealed until the novel's conclusion. But all that pales in comparison to McKinley's passion for the land, which dominates both the characters and the reader with its great heat and vastness, and McKinley's descriptions of the exhausting labor necessary to survive as a rancher. Ellie's saga begins in 1936 and continues through World War II on to 1970. In between flashbacks, the reader dwells with Ellie's two daughters. Claire, the most affected by the family secret, has left home for Sydney as a result of a family breach, and Leanne has secret plans of her own. Ultimately, McKinley's two-tiered tale is a story of love for people, land, and country. --Neal Wyatt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Claire Pearson is a successful veterinarian in Sydney, Australia, who is called to her family's outback homestead to resolve old family conflicts in this multigenerational drama by McKinley (Jacaranda Vines). Claire has been estranged from her relatives for five years. As her visit unfolds, it becomes clear that she fled to Sydney after a fight with her parents over a mysterious gravestone on the family property. McKinley weaves Claire's story with that of her mother, Ellie, who was abandoned by her mother as a little girl and witnessed her father's death in an outback storm as a young teen; Claire's fiery sister, Leanne, who has always been envious of Claire's looks and easy successes; and Aurelia, the wise old aunt who watches over the family and knows all of its tangled secrets, which she slowly relinquishes as Claire asks more questions about her true parentage. In spite of the melodramatic revelations, the most interesting character here is the Australian landscape itself, the dry, dusty stretches of land dotted with cattle stations every 200 miles, where locals birth horses with their bare hands and everyone knows everyone else. McKinley's human characters are far less captivating, their stories patched together confusingly as the book switches between Ellie's past and Claire's present without adequate transitions or cues. These convolutions, along with thinly drawn characters and predictable revelations, make this an unremarkable effort. (Nov. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved