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Feature book: Tree Change

22 October 2014

Tree ChangeTree Change by Tea Cooper

Cassia is an artist who makes sculptures with driftwood and metal. She moved to Sydney from the north coast to establish herself as an artist and to give exposure to her sculptures. Cassia made sculptures from driftwood when she lived with Jake, but moving to the city has seen her redefine her work and life away from Jake and she now works mostly in metal.

Jake studied environmental science at university and has just finished renovating his beach house. To protect his brother Lyle’s wife, Madeleine, Jake lets her move in with him at the beach house, affectionately known as ‘the Shack’. Madeleine is pregnant and needs to be kept safe from the drug syndicate Lyle is giving evidence against. No one knows Lyle and Madeleine are married and everyone thinks that Madeleine has taken up with Jake and that her baby, Jade, is Jake’s. Jake wants the cash from selling the renovated Shack to buy the family macadamia farm from Lyle, so Lyle, Madeleine and Jade can start a new life in New Zealand.

Cassia and Nick were an item before she moved to the city and Madeleine moved into ‘the Shack’ with Jake. There’s not really much progression of the relationship, more a sadness for opportunities lost. While they find reasons to see each other, circumstances and regrets make this relationship seem futile. While Cassia and Nick do reach a happily ever after, it’s after a lot of ‘I’m sorry’ and long-overdue explanations.

Bearing in mind that everyone has different tastes, the story felt angst-y, and not at all like a tree change as the title suggested, more city change and then back. The believability (for someone who embraces both fantasy and sci-fi) of some of the premises of this contemporary non woo-woo story are low; Madeleine being safe by moving in with Jake; Cassia and/or Jake not calling the police after Cassia is attacked and PUNCHED IN THE FACE; the sex after being PUNCHED IN THE FACE and receiving no medical attention; and the fact that an as-yet-unestablished artist can afford a studio/apartment from which light reflects from the Harbour Bridge just don’t seem likely. Cassia as a character seems believable and her passion for her sculpture reads well on the page, but the story did not leave me feeling happy or satisfied with the romance.

Reviewed by Gina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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