Holly Ford is yet to visit to Tasmania but she is aware it is known for its fantastic food she also believes her homeland of New Zealand has a similar natural beauty to Tasmania.
I called Holly recently to chat to her about her latest book ‘High Country Hero’, a book that can be read as a rural romance while also utilising the romance genre to explore the serious issues of dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The main protagonist Lennie is visiting her grandparents in their rural home ostensibly to help her grandad to downsize his veterinarian practice but also to attempt to address the discontent that has arisen in her grandfather and grandmother’s relationship. Lennie herself is a vet and a keen animal lover accompanied on her travels by her beautiful dog Pesh.
On a visit to a local pub a situation arises which local gentleman Mitch, a former acquaintance of Lennie’s, comes to her aid. Mitch’s physical strength impresses Lennie but she soon realises beneath that strength is a man considerably affected by his war experience and the trauma of losing his partner, a young woman who also had a special relationship with her pet dog. Lennie and Pesh bring back tormented memories as well as giving Mitch the prospect of finding love again, both of the human and canine kind.
The two ‘vets’ Lennie the animal doctor and Mitch the war ‘vet’ unite, with Lennie sharing her knowledge of the healing powers of animals. Another sort of healing must be found for the complex puzzle that sees her grandfather push his beloved wife away from him. A twisted knot of unsubstantiated fears comes to a head in the form of a gate left open allowing the animals to escape. Perhaps the open gate is a metaphor for our need to open our hearts and release our fears as a starting point to curing them.
Holly has written a many layered novel, one that can be read as an entertaining romance but also one that addresses prevalent issues of the times, in how we handle physical and mental maladies and how letting out pent up emotions out and the healing power of our human and canine companions in, can help result in a positive outcome.
High Country Hero is out now published by Allen and Unwin.