Around October 2002, my mother gave me a box of Lucy Walker romances – 16 slim, yellowed paperbacks, that she had held onto for years and years because she loved them so much. She had decided it was finally time to let them go.
The first one I read was The Gone-Away Man, and I enjoyed it, describing it as “A little more sophisticated than some of the romance novels I've read”. I then, unfortunately, gave two or three of them away to someone else who liked the author. And then I read another one, and was hooked. Nine years later I still haven't read all of them, and have purchased a few more on Amazon (where they are sometimes ridiculously priced for used books), and am savoring them here and there.
This weekend I read Follow Your Star, which was first published in 1963. Like all of Walker's books I've read so far, it was set in the Australian Outback.
Rosemary Bentley is a young girl left homeless and penniless after her guardian, an uncle, dies. Her aunt died several years ago, and Rosemary has lived more or less as a servant, waiting on her uncle, not allowed to go out or have friends over or really even have friends. Now she's learned that her aunt and uncle never legally adopted her, and that her legal name is still Kylie Brown – her aunt called her Rosemary, and Bentley was their last name.
When she sees Brad Coulsell through a window, she is intrigued by him. He's come to the home to discuss business with her uncle's executor, as he and her uncle had some investments together. She does not meet him that day, but through the executor he offers Rosemary Bentley a position as companion to his mother at Rock Hill Cattle Station. Kylie decides to shed her old life, and going to the hiring agent's office, she applies for the position as Kylie Brown. Next thing she knows, she is traveling to the station and settling in with the family, who are unaware of her identity. But unbeknownst to her, Brad is trying to find Rosemary Bentley.
Lucy Walker's books are all sweet and quaint and fun to read. The writing is just fantastic, with passages like this:
Everything else was tidy except Kylie's shoes which stood at an angle to one another, the toes touching and the heels not playing neighbours, like two naughty children caught unawares playing truant from the cupboard.
I love a lot of the stuff that is being written today, but they just don't write 'em like this anymore.
(I purchased this book through Amazon.com.)