Kookaburra Cottage by Maya Linnell

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Kookaburra Cottage is the fifth novel by Australian writer Maya Linnell, a former country journalist and radio host. Maya also blogs for Romance Writers Australia, loves baking up a storm, tending to her rambling garden and raising her three children. These aspects of her life are clearly reflected in her novels.

Her books can be classified as contemporary romance novels, which are set in the time when they are written, and usually reflect the mores of that time. Its primary focus is on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and usually has an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

For Kookaburra Cottage she has chosen Lacewing Estate, a small winery on the Limestone Coast of South Australia for her primary setting. April Lacey is trying to upgrade her father’s winery to increase visitor numbers without upsetting him. He is happy with the way things are and is of an age where he does not respond well to change. She would love to have her father’s winery involved in the DestinationSA program which is synonymous with the food and tourism industry.  She understands that it is a tough market for small wineries where every employee wears multiple hats and every dollar counts. At a wine conference in Adelaide, where she hopes to learn more about this program, she meets Englishman Connor Jamison and his Scottish friend Fergus, who are part of an international winemaker’s exchange in Australia to learn about the wine industry here.

Through the telling of her story the author makes use of contrasts to add richness to the tale. There is the contrast of season and climate between England and Australia and the differing behaviours of the careless, self-centred youth and the inclusive community attitude of the other country people. Differences in the interaction of adults with the younger generation is also evident. However, there are also the threads which weave their way through the whole story, linking all the aspects of their lives. Music, especially piano music, plays a major role in this tale as does the skill level and enjoyment of cooking.

Alice is no cook but does her best to help swell the display at the local show. Once she decides to improve this skill, she discovers that ‘Cooking – once you know how – really was its own brand of alchemy’ (281). Alice’s love of gardening is also seen in the many exhibits she provides for this occasion.

Like most books of this genre, the path to love and happiness does not run smoothly. After a slow beginning, a deeper connection develops between the key players, until something occurs which causes doubt to raise its head and possibly derail the whole relationship. Both are still overcoming disappointments from earlier relationships which influence their decision making. Yet the reader knows that by the end of the book all will be as it should be.

In Maya Linnell’s books, there is a lovely Australianness in the stories, from the flora and fauna, the beach and country settings and the dazzling sunshine and intensity of light. Also at the heart of this community is the ever-present mateship and willingness to drop everything to help others in need. The resilience and adaptability of country folk to tackle any task which presents itself is also evidenced in Alice’s determination to be hands on with the restoration work she believes will improve her father’s business.

Reflecting the time in which the story is set, the use of laptops, zoom technology and YouTube find a place in the story.

It is the relationships between the characters that I found the most enjoyable. The intergenerational connections particularly, and the different values of the individuals. The inclusion of young Archie in the story I found to be both poignant and heart-warming. Once again Maya Linnell has written a story with warm country charm, family drama and lovable characters.

A very enjoyable read.

Kookaburra Cottage


By Maya Linnell


ISBN:978-1-76087- 970-9

$29.99; 384pp


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