The Long Road Home by Fiona McCallum

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

As scientists across the globe race against the clock to find a coronavirus vaccine, here’s hoping they also discover a cure for narcissism while they’re at it.

This was the first paragraph in an article by Lucy Carne in the Sunday Mail, March 29th, 2020. Narcissism is also an issue highlighted in Fiona McCallum’s latest book, The Long Road Home.

It wasn’t until Alice had felt bullied enough to leave her job at the Real Estate office, that she realised just how much alike her former boss was to her own mother. Both were incapable of empathy, and obsessed with themselves and achieving dominance over others. These were indicators of a personality disorder, that was no fault of Alice’s.

This book foregrounds just how people like this can undermine the self-esteem of others. Alice left home as soon as possible and rushed into marriage with Rick and when that failed fell into another relationship which also did not last. Once she moved away to try to live on her own, she was able to see the problem more clearly and set about reorganising her life, even though it was not going to be easy to redress what a lifetime of behaviours had done.

The author has organised the book into two parts. The first is from Alice’s point of view, as she picks up the pieces from her former dysfunctional life. The second part of the book follows Rick, her ex-husband. He has now become her friend, after they re-connected to support each other following the deaths of Alice’s friend and then Rick’s father.

The last book I read, I felt, was all tell and no show. This book relies a lot on introspection as both these protagonists come to grip with problems from their earlier life.  Both have now accessed professional help and supported by new friends are beginning to cope in their new lives. During this process they are continually reminded of the narcissistic behaviour they encountered earlier in their lives.  

There were times that I was frustrated with Alice’s introspection as she came across a little too negative for my liking, but by the end of the story she was showing more positivity as she tries to support her ex-husband.

Having said this, I found this story to be very heart warming. Alice has discovered people who are very supportive and she in turn now supports Rick.  He has often wondered why he had never really felt he belonged with his family as he was growing up, and why he was never drawn to farming like his father.

When his mother is found dead in the pool not long after the death of his father, and her will is read, Rick discovers that he has been excluded from the inheritance of the family farm on which he had worked for many years. He leaves his childhood home and heads to Ballarat where he and Alice soon discover the amazing story of Rick’s true roots.

Fiona McCullum’s stories are heart-warming journeys of self-discovery that draw on her life experiences, love of animals and fascination with the power and support that comes from strong friendships.

Her first novel, Paycheque, was published in 2011 and became a bestseller. In the nine years since, Fiona has written another ten bestselling novels several of which belong in series. The Long Road Home is part of the Ballarat Series and is a sequel to A Life of her Own which was published in April 2019. However, the second book in this series does not require the reader to have read the first, but it may motivate the reader to do so.

When I first saw this book, I had the feeling that I had read something else with this title before and research has revealed that there are at least three other books of this name from different authors: Danielle Steel, Martha Radditz and Mary Alice Monroe. A change of name for this novel in the future may be to advantage. Fiona McCallum’s books, which are set in her Australian environment, are always an enjoyable read.


The Long Road Home

(2020)

Fiona McCallum

Harper Collins

ISBN:978-4892-6152-6

$ 32.99; 432pp

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