Author: Maya Linnell
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 31 May 2022
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Paperbark Hill is the fourth novel in the series about the McIntyre sisters and I have to say, I’m pretty sorry to see it end; which means I am finally going to pick up the first of the books next. I am not a fan of reading out of order but it’s been sitting staring at me since it was released… I can see it right now from my seat at my computer.

Diana McIntyre and her boys have been doing it tough, but they have the love and support of a close knit family, and a close knit community. Bridgefield is a town that looks after their own and are always willing to help, especially those that give so much back to the town.

Paperbark Hill is Linnell’s fourth novel and they are all linked but you don’t have to have read the others and you don’t have to read them in order. It is lovely to get a glimpse of the characters we got to know in earlier novels but they are all secondary characters in this one so it’s not a huge deal if you don’t know them.

It seems to me that there has been quite a bit of time between Magpie’s Bend and Paperbark Hill because there were things it took me a while to get my head around, changes I hadn’t been expecting.

Diana is working through her grief and trying to do the best she can for her four boys and build her fledgling flower farm into a blooming business. It takes all her time and a mammoth effort, and a lot of support from her family. The unexpected loss of her mentor makes the task of being ready for the next selling season super daunting, but Diana is nothing if not determined.

Ned Gardiner is a nomadic pharmacist who hasn’t called the family farm home in a lot of years. His relationship with his parents is strained, to say the least, but he does keep in regular contact with his equally nomadic brother.

The loss of their father means Ned’s plans need to change so he can spend some time holding the fort at the farm until after his brother’s Antarctic research trip. The plan was always a short term detour to the family farm but things in Bridgefield aren’t what he was expecting. His two young children quickly fall in love with the town, and the farm, and talk of the next destination becomes less frequent but are any of them ready to settle down. This little single parent family have always moved around, the children love the travel and seeing new places. Eventually we learn what’s behind the nomadic life, and it’s really quite bittersweet.

Paperbark Hill addresses many familial issues that are relatable on all kinds of levels. Linnell writes with such heart that you can’t help but get involved with her characters; their struggles, their triumphs, their turmoil and the spirit of this small town community.

Grief, loss, second chances, moving on, friendship, family, addiction, sport, pressure, growing up, settling down, internet dating…. there is a little of everything and elements of relatability to all of it, and everyone.

I’m trying to think of little things to share, that won’t lead to spoilers, that are my favourite things and there are just way too many.

Paperbark Hill is an emotional story of second chances, of moving forward in ways that never seemed possible; of dreaming big and working hard to achieve all you set out to do.

I would love to check back in on the McIntyre’s and Bridgefield a little down the track, I’m sure there are more characters itching for a story of their own – and I have one in mind.

Thanks to Maya Linnell and Allen and Unwin for another beautiful read, and for allowing me to be part of the blog tour.

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Paperbark Hill is available now through Allen and Unwin and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.