Burning Fields

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair
Subgenre: Historical fiction
Release date: 1 Jun 2018
Publisher: MIRA HarperCollins
Format: ebook and print
Length: 311 pages
RRP: $11.99 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

Alli Sinclair has delivered another great read in Burning Fields.

The book is set in 1948 just after WWII as the world tries to go back to ‘normal’ and those who had stepped up when needed are expected to step back in line. Just like that.

In Burning Fields, we find ourselves in the middle of Rosie Stanton’s story. She’s having trouble settling back into her ‘daughter of the farm’ role after working in the Women’s Army Service.

Then her Dad gets ill and Rosie defies convention and takes on managing the farm. She has lost people to the war and the one brother left isn’t in any shape to manage the farm. There are those who don’t like it and don’t support her. The farm isn’t doing so well financially either just to add to her woes.

Enter Tomas Conti with his own demons, and who has escaped Italy to join his family in outback Australia. He wants to leave the past behind him.

Rosie and Tomas meet, and you just know their story isn’t going to be a smooth one. Anyone with a bit of knowledge of the period just after WWII knows the Italians did it tough in parts of the country as they seemed to vie for women and jobs with our own returned servicemen.
The path is a long way from smooth.

There’s antagonism, love, shame, a wronged villain and a deep, dark secret that is set to tear Rosie and Tomas apart. Throughout the whole book you want Rosie to succeed back in 1948 at something we might not think twice of a woman attempting today.

Ms Sinclair has written a book that is well-researched, wonderfully evocative of the time and wraps a number of stories and threads together in a weave you won’t want to end.

Tomas and Rosie work hard for their HEA, and a villain unwittingly helps bring everyone together and sets up a lot of nice and positive situations in the end.

I very much enjoyed Rosie and Tomas’ story.
reviewed by Sharon S
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Burning Fields drew me in when I saw that it take place in Australia during World War 2 and not being one that regularly read Historical romance was surprised by how amazing this story. there w3as a lot going on during this story that really amazed me. Alli Sinclair did an incredible job with the writing of this story and wrote a truly amazing storyline that really explored during war time.
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Burning Fields is a novel set in post-war Australia where men struggled with the things they saw in war & women struggled at being expected to step back to their relegated role in the home. This novel tries to reconcile these 2 issues in a typically Australian outback setting. The lush and promising land beguiled all to believe that anything is possible.

This novel opens with Rosie Stanton returning to her family farm after she lost her bid for independence. Both her brothers went to war and neither returned. She is reluctant to face her parents and their grief. Despite her love for the farm and her capabilities, her father will not have her working at the farm. Her mother appears to be struggling with her own demons. Rosie is determined for her father to recognise her abilities and help her mother. There is also the attractive newcomer at the next farm...

Tomas Conti & his family are the new neighbours. Despite their attraction, Tomas is a troubled man. His recognition of Rosie's independence is a big plus but will he be able to put the past behind to live in the present?

The story is mainly told from Rosie's perspective in the present. Every few of Rosie's chapter is broken by a chapter of Tomas' perspective from the past (the war in Italy). I must say that each of Tomas' chapters filled me with dread as I expected whatever horrid thing to happen then. Both characters are easily likeable and I enjoyed Rosie's persistent effort to be recognise as being capable as any man. 

Burning Fields is an easy and enjoyable read. It was rather easy to put down & pick back up again. It is a sweet romance and I love how the town people (or rather most of them anyway) get together as a community to support each other.

Thanks to Harlequin MIRA & Netgalley for copy of book in exchange of honest review.
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I enjoyed probably the first half of Burning Fields but unfortunately the book started to grate on my nerves from about the 50% mark.

I live in Cairns, so I was expecting to be captivated by the setting, a fictional sugar cane farming town of north Queensland (Sinclair does thank the Cairns historical society in her end notes).    However, the book was very dialogue driven and lacked the descriptive style to bring the beauty of the area to life on the page. This style caused the scenes set in Italy to feel quite underdone also.

I have come to expect food porn when Italian characters are featured but, even here, Sinclair doesn’t deliver. They eat olives, cheese and bread. The Australians eat lamingtons. *yawn*

WW2 (and post WW2) is my favourite historical time period for books, but I didn’t think this worked due to a lot of the language and actions of the characters being way more modern than they should for the time.

Sinclair introduces the themes of racism, PTSD, alcoholism, and gender inequality but again, our characters don’t address these issues like I would expect anyone to in 1948. Sinclair also needs to try and ‘show not tell’ a little more. The book’s themes seemed to be shoved down your throat instead of organically woven into the plot. (Our heroine’s, Rosie, rambling about not being allowed in the pub was ridiculous, for example.)

Rosie and her leading man, Tomas, had a nice meet-cute in the beginning. Their romance after that though lacked any great chemistry. Especially since, essentially, this is a romance novel much more than any great piece of women’s literature.

As I said, this is quite a dialogue heavy book and in some cases, less could have been more. As in, there are whole chunks of dialogue where one character is telling another character a secret/past experience (essentially the dreaded info dump) that could have more effectively been told with a flashback.

I didn’t mind the flashbacks of Tomas’s time during the war in Italy. Again, however, there was too much of one character telling another what had happened instead of Sinclair actually writing a scene for the action. For example, the event where Tomas’s grandfather died should have been written as a scene instead of a throw away memory/conversation. (Ditto with Rosie’s Brisbane experience and her time with the Australian Women’s Army Service.)

As you can probably tell, I was pretty disappointed in this book. (I received my copy via the publisher and Net Galley and I must add there were quite a few spelling and grammar errors I hope were fixed up before its publication.) Only just a 3 out of 5 in my opinion.
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A good story by author Ali Sinclair. Rosie and Thomas were characters that grab your attention and keep the pages turning. I liked the story that was set in trying times for many.
Review copy received from Harlequin MIRA via Netgalley
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My Thoughts

‘Sometimes the biggest battles are the ones we have inside us.’

Burning Fields is a historical fiction novel by Aussie author Alli Sinclair. Having previously enjoyed Alli’s other books (HERE) it was a fresh change to find her delve into the sugar cane fields of far north Queensland just after the conclusion of WWII. Although there is a love story here, I would suggest that the stronger plot is that of Australia’s multicultural history and the background to social and cultural changes that were occuring at the time. 

There are also flashbacks to fill in details regarding Tomas’s thoughts and actions in Italy during the war. I thought this was well done and a clever way to backfill information. Using this information, combined with events in Queensland straight after the war, helped to demonstrate how complicated war is - none more so than for Italian citizens who found themselves switching alliances part way and the terrible angst and pressure it placed on those who remained to either conform or resist. As in the case of Tomas, nothing is as it seems - and for good reason. 

There is much to appreciate about this read. Everything from:  wartime Italy, Italian family bonds (love Nonna), to life as an immigrant in ‘White Australia’ especially in the far rural reaches of the Queensland cane fields - racism was rife. I loved the descriptions of town life and the distances and strong community that was conveyed. Alli also touched on the struggle for women post war and the expectation of returning to their prewar roles after having contributed so much for the war effort. The  attitude towards women, not only sexism in a professional capacity, but also during social circumstances.

I congratulate Alli for tackling some topical issues - not only of the past but seen through present eyes, as it will surely would stimulate conversation. These issues set against a enticing location, combined with engaging relationships - Tomas and Rosie, Nonna and Rosie’s mother and father - will provide a most entertaining story for readers. 

Tomas guided her hand upwards and rested it over her heart ... 
‘This is where home is. I have spent too long trying to figure out what home means to me and I have finally come to the realisation that your home is wherever you feel love.’ 
‘Not Italy?’
 ‘Not Italy. Not Australia. Not the moon. Here,’ he squeezed her hand that still lay over her heart.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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This one is set in times of change the second world war has not long ended and there are big changes, men returning home from things that no one should have had to go through woman who have worked tirelessly keeping their countries going are now sent back to the kitchens and Rosie Stanton is on her way home from Brisbane to the family’s cane farm in Piri River Northern Queensland and there will be many upheavals to come. This is a compelling, moving story that had me hooked from page one, this is one not to be missed.

Change is hard for most people and Rosie sees a lot of changes when she arrives home unannounced to the family home she has lost one brother in the war and one is still missing her parents are doing their best and she is home to stay after losing her secretarial job in Brisbane, Rosie joined up in the Australian Woman’s Army during the war and is a very independent woman and finds it hard to be pushed back all the time because she is a woman, on the bus trip home she meets and Italian man on his way to join his family on a neighbouring cane farm will this change Rosie’s life? ‘

Tomas Conti has finally arrived in Australia to join his family so much has happened to him during the war and he is a different person will he ever find true happiness again? Meeting his new neighbour Rosie on that bus might be just what he needs to end the turmoil he goes through.

This is a story that I didn’t want to put down a beautiful so very well deserved romance between Tomas and Rosie but so much more as well so many underlying issues to overcome and I love how Rosie coped with it all her strength and caring comes full force wow what a woman and to see her get her man left me feeling very happy. Tomas is such a hero the things he did for his country helped make him what he is today. MS Sinclair you bought these issues and these wonderful people to life for me on the pages and left me feeling good that they did make a difference in the end with what they went through thank you for a fantastic story. This is one that I highly recommend I did love it.
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Set in north Queensland post WWII, Alli Sinclair's Burning Fields is a stunning, evocative novel that rewrites the narrative for Australian themed historical romance.

As with her previous novels, Burning Fields dives deeply into the historical setting, in this case of both the north QLD cane fields and war-torn Italy, while maintaining strong characterisation, and steady plot development. A Sinclair novel isn't complete without what is becoming in my opinion Alli's trademark focus on woman-led narrative detailing the challenges and hard-won advances of women of that particular time period. 

Burning Fields female protagonist Rosie Stanton is a strong-willed woman who is clearly ahead of her time. Having served in the Australian Women's Army and arguably having more worldly experience than her father sets the scene quite early. She is a formidable character, steadfast yet compassionate and so delicately vulnerable. 

The story of Tomas Conti, an Italian immigrant who is struggling to find his feet in a new set of circumstance is Australia is authentic and touching. Certainly much research went into understanding the difficulties and prejudices faced by Italian post-WWII immigrants. 

Love, family, accepting the past in order to embrace your future, and believing in yourself are just some of the qualities that shine through in Burning Fields. This is absolutely a must-read.

If you liked Judy Nunn's depiction of the harsh north Queensland terrain and cane fields in Elianne you'll adore Alli Sinclair's Burning Fields.
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This is my first Alli Sinclair novel and it won't be my last.

Burning Fields is a look back on post WW2 Australia -and in many ways, not a lot has changed in the past 70 years.

Rosie is one fierce woman. Not something that was appreciated back in the 1940s. She wants to help on her family property, however her father - who 90% of the time I got frustrated and mad at, just like Rosie - but misogyny runs rampant through family, community, country.

Oh, and if anyone ever says Australia is not racist, well, that is a lie! Though this is set post war and the Italians bear the brunt of it, there are echos of this in current society, and the human race really hasn't changed that much at all.

I adored Tomas, and his and Rosie's attraction leaps off the page, and as a reader you can't help but fall for the as they fall for each other.

This story shows the winds of change that started to happen after WW2, when women who had been independent while their men were away, and refused to be pushed back into the kitchen - go women!

I will be going back and reading more of Ms Sinclair's works in the future
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I was approached by author Alli Sinclair to review her latest novel,  Burning Fields.  My co-blogger Tara had reviewed Alli Sinclair's Luna Tango on this blog here.  I was interested in reading about Rosie, Alli Sinclair's independent heroine in Burning Fields.  So I requested an ARC which was sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
                          
As the novel opens  in the post-WWII era, Australian Rosie Stanton has been living on her own in Brisbane and is accustomed to making her own decisions, but harassment at her job has forced her to return to the family farm.  I found her situation very relatable from the outset. Other American readers may have a similar reaction since the MeToo movement has increased awareness of workplace harassment.

Rosie brought useful skills to her family, but her father's traditionalism made him unreceptive. Sexist attitudes were pervasive during this period. Rosie had to fight for respect from her father and the surrounding community.

Some wonderful exceptions to the denigration of women were the hero, Tomas Conti, and his family who owned the farm next door to the Stantons.   As Italians, they were victims of prejudice mainly resulting from Italy having been an enemy during WWII. Yet Rosie's father had more personal reasons for his animus against Italians.  This anti-Italian bigotry was one of the obstacles in the path of HEA for Rosie and Tomas.

Tomas' grandmother, known as Nonna, was an unwavering source of support.  She became a friend and mentor for Rosie.  Nonna was both strong-minded and wise.   I loved Nonna's relationship with the often beleaguered female protagonist.

There were some lovely Italian customs mentioned during the narrative including giving women a mimosa flower on Festa de la Donna which is an Italian holiday celebrating women. 

I thought that Burning Fields was a beautiful and moving romance.  Rosie's feminism and the foregrounding of post-WWII antagonism against immigrants from countries that had been Axis Powers may cause readers to think about these issues.
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I really enjoyed this historical fiction set in Australia after WWII, it explores the treatment of immigrants, especially Italians who suddenly became the enemy during the war. It also explores small town behaviour and what is real in times of trouble. I loved the dual timeline of Tomas and what he had been through during the war, and I enjoyed the relationship between him and Rosie that emerged despite her father's distaste for Italians. I definitely recommend this great book by Australian author Alli Sinclair

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a copy in return for an honest review.
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Copy received from author via Netgalley for an honest review

This is my first Alli Sinclair novel and it won't be my last.

Burning Fields is a look back on post WW2 Australia -and in many ways, not a lot has changed in the past 70 years.

Rosie is one fierce woman. Not something that was appreciated back in the 1940s. She wants to help on her family property, however her father - who 90% of the time I got frustrated and mad at, just like Rosie - but misogyny runs rampant through family, community, country.

Oh, and if anyone ever says Australia is not racist, well, that is a lie! Though this is set post war and the Italians bear the brunt of it, there are echos of this in current society, and the human race really hasn't changed that much at all.

I adored Tomas, and his and Rosie's attraction leaps off the page, and as a reader you can't help but fall for the as they fall for each other.

This story shows the winds of change that started to happen after WW2, when women who had been independent while their men were away, and refused to be pushed back into the kitchen - go women!

I will be going back and reading more of Ms Sinclair's works in the future
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Rosie Stanton was heading home from Brisbane to her family’s cane farm, Tulpil in Piri River, northern Queensland. Her thoughts were in turmoil – she knew her parents, especially her father would be against her returning home to stay, but that’s what she wanted to do. The Sicilian passenger on the bus whom she was seated beside was an interesting companion, but when she discovered Tomas Conti was also disembarking in Piri River she was surprised; learning his family owned the property adjoining Tulpil was a bigger shock. She knew what her father’s thoughts would be on that…

It was 1948; the war was over but the turmoil remaining wasn’t. Rosie had lost her brother Geoffrey, and Alex was still missing in action – although they hadn’t lost hope, it was fading. Tomas also had secrets he was keeping from his time during the war years in Italy. Would Tomas settle and find peace in Australia? He knew Rosie’s kind and generous nature could help him – if he let her.

When Rosie’s dad suffered a stroke, Rosie took over the running of the farm. But she struggled against everything that was tradition as well as a definite threat at having a woman in the role. What would be the outcome in this male dominated world; a world which Rosie wanted to improve, to see women equal to men?

Burning Fields is an excellent historical fiction novel by Aussie author Alli Sinclair, set just after the second world war and focusing on the Australians and immigrant Italians (among others) Set in far north Queensland, the vastness of the cane fields, the racism and ostracization which is still around in today’s world, and the struggle of women who’d worked a man’s role when the men were off at war, then having to return to being the “little woman” around the house when the men wanted their old jobs back. An intriguing, fascinating story, Burning Fields is one I highly recommend.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital copy to read and review.
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