Bradshaw’s novel focuses on two families, the Copelands and the Parnhams, who have long operated competing real estate firms in the rural Australian town of Reverton.
The family feud started decades earlier, when the Parnhams started their business and the elder sons of each clan nearly came to blows on Reverton’s main street: “The antagonism between Geoff [Copeland] and Jack [Parnham] continued for the next forty-four years with their rival real estate agencies.” Nathan Copeland fights in court to maintain visitation rights to his twins after his ex-girlfriend kicks him out. Meanwhile, his ex’s mother partners with the Parnhams in a potential retirement complex, Greymoon Gardens Village. Friends of Nathan’s buy a lot from the Parnhams adjacent to the retirement village, and that plot of land ultimately becomes key to the story. Copeland patriarch Frank, who runs the local museum, ends up resolving things in a way that benefits his family, telling Nathan, “[I]f I can remedy the situation by hook or by crook, so be it.” The novel reads like a diary of life in a sleepy little town, but even as the characters’ petty resentment festers, little actually happens until late in the novel. Wily codger Frank is a well-developed, engaging character. Few others are as distinct, however, which often makes it difficult to remember which person is aligned with which clan. The book also squanders a potentially fascinating setting; other than the use of some Britishisms, such as “message bank” for “voice mail,” there’s little to indicate where the story is set. The story does have a clever ending, but it isn’t clever enough to justify the meandering path it takes to get there.
A largely forgettable family drama that doesn’t stake out any new territory.