Suddenly One Summer

Author // Fleur McDonald
Publication Date // October 2017
Publisher // Allen & Unwin (Arena)
Readership // Adult
Genre // Fiction, Mystery
Australian RRP // $29.99
Rating // ✭✭✭✭


In the tradition of Red Dust, Suddenly One Summer is yet another classic rural romance novel by leading author, Fleur McDonald.

When Brianna Donahue was three years old, her mother mysteriously disappeared while farming in Merriwell Bay, Western Australia. Her body has never been found. Brianna works the same land with her father Russell, while almost single-handedly raising her two children as her husband Caleb works as a fly-in fly-out criminal lawyer in Perth.

One scorching summer’s morning, her son Trent goes missing and, while frantically searching for him, Brianna must come to terms with the fact that her marriage has large cracks in it.

Over two thousand kilometres away in South Australia, Detective Dave Burrows receives a phone call reporting stolen sheep from an elderly farmer. When he and his partner Jack arrive at the farm, it’s clear that Guy has early signs of dementia. Following a conversation with his wife Kim, Dave becomes intrigued with Guy’s family history. Was there a sister, or was there not? No one seems to know.

So how will Dave’s investigation impact Brianna’s world? While battling the threat of bushfires back in Merriwell Bay, Brianna is faced with challenges that test her relationships with those she loves most. Suspenseful and incendiary, Suddenly One Summer is an intriguing and heartfelt story of the unlikely connections of life on the land.


Suddenly One Summer is the first book I’ve read by Fleur McDonald, and it was a page turner.

Despite being promoted as a rural romance, it was light on the romance and full of mystery and intrigue. Brianna’s lived on a farm in Western Australia her whole life, raised by her father after her mother disappeared when she was three. Years later, on her birthday, Brianna’s oldest son goes missing and during the search comes to the realisation that her marriage to her husband, Caleb, is fraying around the edges.

Meanwhile, in South Australia, Detective Burrows is called out to the property of an elderly farmer whom he begins to suspect has dementia. Becoming intrigued by Guy’s history, Burrows begin to investigate the possibility of a family member gone missing. Both storylines converge in a great twist that I didn’t see coming.

I really enjoyed Suddenly One Summer; all of the characters felt real – like people you might know. While I don’t live in rural Australia, I have family who do, and I think that’s why I’m beginning to appreciate these books more as I get older – I can see the connections between the little that I do know about farming life and it makes the reading experience all the more vivid.

I was guessing the whole way through; the twist at the end took my by surprise, and also made a lot of sense and thinking back on my reading experience as a whole, I could piece together all of the clues along the way to their natural conclusion.

This would be a great, Summertime read.

I rated Suddenly One Summer 4 out of 5 stars.

(Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts are my own.)

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