Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Teenage Mothers, Sock Knitting Machines and A Rooster Called Bruce

I've "met" many different people through my blog, some of them staying in touch for a short amount of time, and others I have enjoyed ongoing conversations and friendships with.
Margareta Osborn is one such person. I'm not sure how or when (perhaps a year or two ago?) she found my blog, but I am so glad that she did.
Starting off as encouraging comments, I've since enjoyed exchanging emails with Margareta and more recently, a lengthy conversation over the phone.

Margareta is an Australia author - and a rather good one at that. After spending several years writing her first book, Bella's Run, which became Australia's No. 1 Best Seller, she has since penned and had published another five books, including her most recent work Lake Hill.
I was delighted when Penguin Random House offered to send me a copy. I hadn't read any of Margareta's books before, and I was hooked from the first page. Lake Hill starts off with an emotional prologue of a teenage mother leaving her baby on a doorstep. Fast forward two decades later, and the first chapter starts off in the present day and follows the beginning of the main character Julia Gunn's journey to start a new life after the death of her husband.
I rang Margareta on the weekend to discuss Lake Hill with her, but as is bound to happen when you're having a good conversation with someone, we barely talked about the book and instead kicked off the conversation with cake and wound up discussing family history, cows and sock knitting machines. Did you know there is such a thing? I certainly didn't, and neither did Margareta until recently.
Apparently, you can still buy them in America, and there is even a Sock Knitting Machine Appreciation Association!
She's got a lesson planned with a friend who owns a 100-year-old machine and is very excited about it. And why wouldn't you be? I'd love to have a look at a domestic knitting machine, and I think one that specialises in socks would be even better!

Margareta lives and writes from a rural property in Gippsland, Victoria, where her family have been settled for nearly 155 years. To celebrate the milestone, she's planning on collating and writing a book on their family's history.
Her love of the country and community comes through in her writing, with Lake Hill embellished with many colourful characters. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the book because I've tried three other Australian rural-romances before by different authors and they haven't been my cup of tea at all. Lake Hill, however, is a beautifully well-written story full of emotion that was a delight to read and had me from the first page.

Margareta tells me that many of her readers come to visit her every year at the different field days she travels to, where they sit at a timber table handmade by her husband, and fill her in on all their news from the past year. She's seen families grow and welcome new additions and even heard all about a rooster called Bruce from a man keen to share his pet's stories. She was questioned by many over how the book ends, to which she told me she had no choice in the matter - the character's had their own ideas. And I'm very glad she let them.

I really enjoyed Lake Hill and ended up staying up way past my bedtime to finish it one night as I just had to know how things turned out. It's a bittersweet story of love and heartache, but it's also full of warmth. I loved that a gorgeous country cottage cafe was thrown into the mix (aside from the mentions of those fluffy scones....I'm still craving one!), along with a working dog school which I of course thoroughly enjoyed.

I'll definitely be reading Lake Hill again - you can find a copy at all good bookstores and online shops. (I've linked to the Book Depository because it's my shop of choice online).
And you can find out more about Margareta on her website (I recommend signing up for her newsletter, it often gives me a giggle).

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  1. I LOVED our chat, Sarah, as I LOVE your blog. I can't remember when I first started following you, but it does go back a few years. I was drawn to the homegrown sweetness and simplicity of the blog, a feel and warmth that continues today. I'm particularly excited you've now started to include crochet in your newsletters and I ADORE my new 'speckles' sock yarn. Maybe I can use it in a sock knitting machine! :) Thank you also for speaking so highly of my latest book. I'm so delighted you enjoyed it. xo

    1. Thank-you so, so much Margareta! I loved talking to you too, it was absolutely lovely!
      How fun would that be if you could use it in the sock knitting machine? Of course, if you can't, DO actually use it because I'm sure whatever you crochet with it will be beautiful! xx

  2. I am fascinated. I seen an old sock knitter in Dunedin, NZ. The lady makes socks and sells them in the town market. I think the machine makes the leg and foot while she hand crafts the heel and toe.

    1. I was fascinated by them too Suze! I have no idea what working on one would be like :-)

  3. Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah. I'm an avid reader and do like to read Australian authors. Off to check out Margareta!

    1. You're welcome Meredithe, I think you'll love her writing! x

  4. Isn't it amazing where our blog connections lead us to Sarah? x

  5. I've enjoyed your blog for awhile now and always looking for a good book to read. I'll have to look for it here in the USA. I hadn't heard of a "sock knitting machine" - You both sound so very nice and thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank-you so much Susan! I hope you enjoy the book x

  6. Off to my library's website to request her books, thanks for the recommendation.


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