Summer at Mount Hope – Rosalie Ham

Summer at Mount Hope

I bought this book because the  Australian Book Review claimed it was an outback Pride and Prejudice. Definitely misleading advertising! Unless their talking about the small cast of characters in a country village or maybe the annoying mother.

Here’s the blurb

“A quirkily engaging comedy of small town manners. Set on a Victorian family vineyard in 1894, it’s the sort of provincial novel you might expect if Pride and Prejudice met Steele Rudd’s On Our Selection … While it’s the social and romantic intrigue that carries the story, it’s Ham’s wickedly black humour and finely researched social observation that deliver the real joy of the book”. The Australian

“Rosalie Ham’s second novel is unforgettable and unputdownable as her first, the quirky The Dressmaker… Ham is a gifted storyteller. Her ideas are fresh, unusual and entertaining, and result in a marvellous story steeped in an Australia at once recognisable but also new. There’s not a cliche within a cooee”. The Sun Herald

Here’s a plot summary from Dymocks

Phoeba Crupp is a young woman who lives with her parents and sister on a small farm near
Geelong in the 1890s. Her father is an eccentric ex-accountant who moved his family from
the city in order to establish a vineyard, a decision her mother bitterly – and loudly – resents.

While her sister makes a play for the local squatter’s son, Phoeba is content with her best
friend Harriet, until circumstances push her towards the world of men and money. ‘Summer
at Mount Hope’ has a lot of the black comedy of Ham’s first novel, ‘The Dressmaker’, but
also contains a more serious strand about the efforts of a woman a century ago to be

I was disappointed with this novel – it was depressing. No one ended up with what they wanted. Phoeba settled for a marriage of convenience to escape her family, Lilith married the squatter’s son, but by then they had lost the farm and they had to move back to the Crupp’s place (hence Phoeba needing to marry Hadley to escape) and Henrietta ended up being an unpaid skivvy for her mother.


Filed under Book Review

2 Responses to Summer at Mount Hope – Rosalie Ham

  1. At last. Someone ‘got’ it. ‘In Summer at Mount Hope’ no one gets what they want, but they all get what they need. That’s the point. It’s not a ‘romance’ novel, which is how most read it. It’s an anit-romance, conventional romance ‘norms’ (rich squatter living in splendour in [symbolic] setting sun on western plains beyond large obstacle etc), but skewed; no happy ending. It’s about one woman deciding to make the life she’s ended up with worthwhile. Phoeba ended up with one wild night of passion but she got rich despite her ‘plainess.’ Hadley got what he wanted, and it was a partnership that won. Henrietta ended up with a career, and grasping, ambitious Lillith ended up with a lesson in humanity and Spot got revenge. Romance lost out to friendship and doing the best you can with what you’ve got.

  2. SewWitty

    I’ve also read ‘There Should be More Dancing’ – which I reviewed on – I loved it.

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