Wallaby Lane by Maya Linnell

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Australian author, Maya Linnell, has become well known for her rural fiction books about realistic people in small towns. She gathers inspiration from her own rural upbringing and the small communities she has always lived in and loved. Her affection and respect for Australia’s flora and fauna shines through in her novels and influences the titles of her books – Wildflower Ridge (2019), Bottlebrush Creek (2020) Magpie’s Bend (2021), Paperbark Hill (2022), Kookaburra Cottage (2023) and now Wallaby Lane (2024).

Her stories follow the ups and downs of everyday lives, and it is lovely to watch the way her key characters overcome their challenges and learn from their mistakes. Her love of gardening and cooking always finds a place in her story.

In her latest novel, Wallaby Lane, Lauren Bickford is working towards becoming a radio presenter, but she has panic attacks which affect her work, often at the wrong time and to her embarrassment. The radio producer does not let her forget the on-air stuff-ups which only makes it worse. Yet Lauren loves what she does and is determined to succeed.

Jack Crossley has returned to the town where his grandparents raised him and his sister. As the local policeman, he becomes involved in the lives of all the residents.  Like in all towns, there are the kind and caring, the grumpy oldies and teenagers with a penchant for trouble. Jack tries to help them all.

The attraction between Lauren and Jack is tested as they each carry previous experiences which still impact their present lives. Their love story is interwoven as the town prepares for the local show which includes a cook-along where the community members try to cook all the one-hundred recipes in the new cookbook to celebrate its centenary.

This is not just a story about Lauren and Jack. Other secondary characters also have their own storylines. The special relationship between the young girl and her uncle provides warm vibes, but there are tensions too within families and the community.

This story raises topics of mental health, war brides and animal welfare. It is an interesting read with believable characters from all age groups and provides an insight into issues the reader may not have previously encountered but which play a major part in modern society. A one-eyed goat and a loud-mouthed galah named Gary add humour to the story.

While reading this story one can’t help but be aware of the greater sense of community to be found in smaller rural towns when compared to bigger cities.

Wallaby Lane


by Maya Linnell

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 978-1-76106-961-1

$32.99; 400pp

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