By Paula Vince, author,
Abby, a successful singer in metropolitan Sydney marries Joel and moves to Astley, the country town he was raised in. Feeling shunned by the locals and at a loss for things to do, she must get creative. Before long, Abby discovers that life in the small town holds more in store than she ever anticipated. Astley turns out to be a paradigm of the wider world. Normal people lead lives of quiet heroism. Every day is full of noble gestures that may go unnoticed in the grand scheme of events, yet have the power and potential to change the lives of others. As the characters are all honest, regular, down-to-earth people, it's no stretch of the imagination for readers to see that we too may be a source of huge blessings. It is a story of how small ripples may have more far-reaching effects in our sphere of influence than we may imagine. Beautiful reflections about relationships and the Australian lifestyle make "Streets on a Map" the sort of book that helps us to realize the value of what we have
The importance of compassion and friendship
The subtitle of this engaging novel says it all. There is no doubt that change is the only dependable aspect of life. Change cannot be avoided because it comes through ageing, having a family, house moves and bereavements. All these aspects - grim and joyful - are dealt with with such mastery in this book, that the reader feels a part of the progression through the various stages in the life of Abby, the story's likable protagonist. Women face change with finality, wisdom, fear or fatalism: but they face it, and the challenges that changes present in this novel can be recognized as those that provide dilemmas and dread.
What lifts this narrative from the rest? The unmistakable presence of compassion, the strengthening comfort of friendship, and the heartening hope of persistence and support. Dale Harcombe infuses these through the story which, although sprinkled with all the dismaying ingredients that life can provide, such as the loss of a child, the tepid nature of a marriage for which one had so much naive hope, or the wishful aspiration that good friends will live forever, gives the reader a realistic look at life in a country town. No reader who has ever lived in a small community can deny that the spirit that lives on in spite of life's changes is bolstered by characters that raise a group of people to a real community. In this book Laila is a star. Perhaps there is a 'Laila' in every country town - I have met such a person myself: a fount of consolation in times of despair.
"Stubborn as a barnyard bull, is our Laila." Abby says these words and the reader, who knows the character well by then, knows this to be true of those stalwarts who shine in a community, who provide succour, help and hope. They are the ones that are loved like family, when family lets you down. "People are people ... they have the same problems here as anywhere else," says Laila. And that is the essence of this book. It gives the reader a sense that problems are universal, and that we make of them what we can and what we will, just as we do with joy or love.
Read this book with the knowledge that none of what these characters survive is unique, yet it is powerfully interesting, because it is almost as if the story is about ourselves. A wonderful, sustaining read by a masterful storyteller. by Rosanne Dingli
page-turner to the end!
Do you want to read a book that will keep you so enthralled you just have to keep turning the pages? Then Streets on a Map is exactly that book. The story line is alive with excitement, surprises, disasters and emotion. The histories, habits and complexities of the characters are carefully weaved into the story providing a beautiful balance between a plot that will keep you guessing and characters which deepen, becoming old friends the more you get to know them. The story stayed in my mind long after I would put the book down, and often I would find myself wondering about the characters; their habits, their motives, what they would do next. This always made me eager to find the next time I could sit down and continue the story. I thoroughly recommend this book as a refreshing, enjoyable and page-turning read. This is my second reading of this book and I never read books twice!
Streets ahead for an enjoyable read.
By Lynne C,
Dale Harcombe's "Streets on a Map," is a well-written, thoroughly enjoyable book with a story line that spread out its fingers to encompass much in its pages. The characters are believable and engaging, and readers will find themselves drawn to the main character, Abby (a city girl through and through), as she come to grips with the challenges of living in a small country town ably helped by her new best friend Laila. A subtle Christian theme runs throughout the book but the author avoids being preachy or coming across with a pie-in-the-sky attitude. Without a doubt, "Streets on a Map" is four-and-a-half star reading.
Streets on a Map Review
by Dee White
Having lived for many years in a small country town, there was so much about Dale Harcombe’s new novel, Streets on a Map, that I could relate to.
Newly married Abby moves to Astley when her husband gets a transfer with work, but it’s not exactly what she expected and she wonders if she will ever fit into this close knit community. Abby’s husband, Joel doesn’t seem to understand her difficulties and Abby starts to think that this the whole marriage/moving thing might have been a mistake.
She finds a friend, Laila and ends up opening a restaurant with her. Soon Abby is back doing what she loves, singing and running a very successful business. As she becomes more content, things seem to settle down in her marriage too.
But harmony doesn’t reign for long. A deadly house fire and an unplanned pregnancy.
Then there’s the arrival of Laila’s sister Margot and the teenage tearaway, Zoe to add further complications.
The action just keeps coming in Streets on a Map and keeps the reader turning the pages, wondering what’s going to happen next to the characters they have come to know. In the final climactic stages of the book, one of the most well loved characters is stabbed and the reader is left biting their nails, hoping and praying that the victim will survive.
The main characters in Streets on a Map have been well developed so that they become real to the reader – so the reader cares what happens to them and those they love.
It was easy to engage with the likeable and talented heroine, Abby although she had plenty of flaws too that kept her from being perfect and made her authentic for the reader.
Every one of the characters in Streets on a Map has their own fascinating story to tell and Dale Harcombe weaves them cleverly together to create dilemmas for Abby and help her discover strengths she didn’t knew she had.
Streets on a Map is full of vivid description that places the reader right in the story, feeling as if Astley is a place they have visited themselves. The dialogue is authentic and there are strong themes of trust, friendship, forgiveness and self-discovery throughout the book. It’s also about the choices we make and the fact that choices have consequences.
Streets on a Map will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy a fast-paced story with engaging, memorable characters.