Wild Oats by Margaret Tanner
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (WWI)
Length: Full (273 pages)
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia
Beautiful and beguiling Allison Waverley has grown up helping her brother Jim run their farm, helped by their good friend Tommy Calvert, while their father occupies himself as the town drunk. When their little Australian community is visited by English aristocrat Phillip Ashfield and the boys go off to join the army because war has broken out in Europe, the life Allison expected to live is turned upside down. The "wild oats" sown ruin lives and cause repercussions that reverberate well into the next generation, while Allison finds help and a lasting love from an unexpected source.
Seventeen-year-old Allison Waverley bubbles with joy for life. Her blue eyes sparkle with laughter. She loves riding horseback, wild and free, with her brother Jim and her best friend Tommy. She loves going places in the motorcar with Phillip Ashfield, the rich, powerful, visiting Englishman. Naïve, hardworking, and breathtakingly beautiful, she has no idea the feelings she stirs up in men. Reared by a drunkard father after the death of her mother, Allison is aware of the dos and don’ts of society, but ill-equipped to know how to implement them.
Her happy world is shattered with a horrific experience. She changes. She no longer bubbles with joy and the sparkle in her eyes dims. Laughter is replaced with worry, fears, and tears. She learns harsh truths about English aristocracy ways when Phillip disappears from her life. Also, she says goodbye to Jim and Tommy when they join the army, eager to see the world. Life becomes an exercise in survival for her after Tommy, with the help of Captain Frank Clarke, marries her and they have a short honeymoon before Tommy ships out along with Jim, leaving Allison alone since her father had disappeared.
Margaret Tanner’s evocative writing style lures the reader in as she creates a mesmerizing tale of the life and times of Allison in Australia during World War I. She entwines the horrific battles in Turkey and France with Allison's struggles as she works to keep the homestead with no help. When all else seems so dark, Ms. Tanner manages to weave in a bright thread that brings joy to Allison's life. While Ms. Tanner shows the heartbreak and loss due to the war and the cruelty of one man, she also shows that glow of hope for Allison to find love and joy again—not that bubbly, sparkle joy of adolescent love once known, but a deep abiding love with a mature, wonderful, dependable special man.
As always, Margaret Tanner gives us a wonderful, memorable story.
P.S. Wild Oats, is a prequel to The Trouble With Playboys.