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Feature book: Moonlight Plains

1 July 2015

Moonlight PlainsMoonlight Plains by Barbara Hannay

This is a really good story set in two different eras: firstly, in World War II, Townsville 1942 and secondly, Townsville 2013. Both these times are linked with characters in the story. This story had me turning the pages, and I really enjoyed going between the times, getting to know all about the Yanks (Americans) and the way of life back in 1942.

Sally Piper married her school sweetheart and was very happy with her life as a journalist. When tragedy strikes and she is widowed, her life as she knows it is shattered. Two and a half years later, her friends are always trying to get her to party, encouraging her to meet someone else. After all, she is still young, but it is hard for Sally. She spends a lot of time visiting her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s and lives in the nursing home. With her dog, Jess, Sally gets to know a lot of the residents. She becomes very close to Kitty Mathieson, who has been around Townsville since she was a young girl. Kitty was there during World War II when all of the Yanks came to stay. So when Kitty talks Sally into going to a wartime themed dance they are holding at Charters Towers, even lending Sally one of her original dresses from the era, Sally accepts with the intention of doing a wartime story about the planes that had come down on the homestead of Moonlight Plains, where Kitty lived a lot of her life.

Luke Fairburn, Kitty’s grandson, had grown up on cattle stations around the top part of Queensland, but his real love was being a carpenter. He had learned this love from his late grandfather, Andy Mathieson, on visits to his grandparents’ cattle station, Moonlight Plains. His grandmother is now in a nursing home, and the homestead is in disrepair. Luke is restoring the place with a lot of love and care. Luke has no intentions of settling down with one woman. He has short affairs, which suit him fine. With all of the history in the homestead, Luke is at the dance, enjoying himself, learning more about the history of the planes coming down and the history of the homestead.

Sally and Luke meet at the dance. They start up a conversation that leads to Luke taking Sally out to the homestead and looking around. They discuss doing a story on the restoration and the history, which Sally hopes to sell to a magazine. Luke is all for it as it should help him get more work when this job is finished. But one thing leads to another, and Sally and Luke end up spending a very nice evening together, which will, in turn, make Kitty smile as well.

This is a fantastic story that shows the loves and journeys of two couples. One part of the story is from 1942—Ed Langley from Boston USA, one of the pilots from the planes that came down, and Kitty who helped save them when she was a young girl, and their love for each other. They were from such different backgrounds, and with a war going on, they had to make difficult choices. Then, current time being Luke and Sally’s story–they journey to a HEA with such beautiful settings in two time periods in the same town. I really love this one, and I highly recommend it to all readers who want to be turning the pages and smiling throughout.

Reviewed by Helen S

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All ARRA members who leave a comment by 14 July 2015 will go into the draw to win this book. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Malvina.)

  1. 3 July 2015 12:25 am

    Great review Helen. Love the two timelines Barbara and looking forward to reading your book. I love reading where the settings are so rich in histor and meaningful to how our country developed.Memories of the WW2 wont be with us for much longer.
    My mother’s favourite childhood memory came to mind. It begins with that of hearing singing coming up the hilly road leading into Charlestown (in Newcastle). As a little girl, she stood by herself in front of her house and then heard more clearly that men were singing “we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz”. A huge convoy of men in their trucks appeared and the men waved to her as they sang. These brave men were just back from Trobuk and were being immediately trucked north to Brisbane to help defend Australia.

    • 3 July 2015 8:00 am

      What a wonderful memory, Yvonne. Thanks for sharing! Those men coming back from Tobruk were possibly heading to New Guinea. Many of that battalion ended up fighting in Kokoda, poor fellows, including one of my uncles — and the hero of my next book The Secret Years. 🙂

  2. Missy permalink
    2 July 2015 8:55 am

    Sounds incredibly intriguing. I have a thing for historical stories, as a ‘youngun’ I love reading about times gone by. And being a Melbournian, I love reading stories that take place in warm climates – it’s currently anout 8 degrees on my commute 😦

  3. Shannean permalink
    2 July 2015 12:46 am

    I loved every aspect of this story. The interwoven and layered stories of all the characters and the settings. It was particularly engaging for me as I had grandparents involved I all aspects of the allied activities in Townsville and so many parts resonated with memories they had related over the years. I loved too how this tied the other books in the trilogy together and gave us an extended epilogue of their lives. Loved it and look forward to your next novel Barn.

    • 2 July 2015 8:19 am

      Oh, thank you, Shannean. Just as well I didn’t know about your grandparents. I might have plagued you with questions. 🙂 The new novel is also a contemporary and historical combo.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    1 July 2015 4:06 pm

    I hope to be reading this book soon as the review puts it on the TBR list—-Lyn

  5. 1 July 2015 1:21 pm

    Thank you, Helen, for the review. I’m thrilled that Moonlight Plains is featured here. As you have mentioned, it includes the story of wartime Townsville, and it was, in many ways, a book of the heart for me.

    • helensibbritt permalink
      1 July 2015 8:13 pm

      Thank you Barbara for writing such a great story I really did enjoy this one 🙂

      Have Fun

  6. Malvina permalink
    1 July 2015 8:44 am

    There Are so many amazing anecdotes coming out now from WWII, and I’ve been drawn to reading more about them. This sounds so lovely, Barbara, and looks like it’s a two-fer: two romances in one! Win, win. Thank you!

    • 1 July 2015 4:23 pm

      I was fascinated by all the stories of wartime, Townsville, Malvina. If you read Moonlight Plains, I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks.

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