Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie

A new release from Kaye Dobbie
Willow Tree Bend
is out in the wilds today!

Read an excerpt below

An interrupted phone call and a mysterious disappearance bring a family’s secret past crashing into the present…

1969: Small-town girl Faith Taylor leaves her family home in Willow Tree Bend and lands a job at the Angel—Melbourne’s most infamous nightclub. While Faith relishes her new-found freedom, she can’t help noticing that some things about the club don’t add up. So when a policeman reveals that a former waitress was murdered, Faith realises she must help to bring down the shadowy owner behind the club’s activities.

More than thirty years later, what happened at the Angel remains a closely held secret. When Faith disappears, her sister Hope—now a famous movie star—is left with an intriguing, though frustrating, piece
of the puzzle. But with a tell-all documentary film crew constantly by her side, how can she find where Faith is—and what she’s hiding—while making sure her own secrets stay hidden?

Faith’s daughter, Sam, is also concerned by her mother’s uncharacteristic behaviour. When she overhears a clue to Faith’s past, she’s determined to unearth the truth. What is the connection between the Angel and Willow Tree Bend? What does Faith’s disappearance mean? And what will happen when the final secret is revealed?

Excerpt from Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie

FAITH

June 1969, Willow Tree Bend

The car had reached the turn in the road that ran along the creek and Faith really didn’t want to look back. Not when she was start­ing out on her new and exciting life. In those circumstances, look­ing back wasn’t the cool thing to do.

But she did. She couldn’t seem to help it. The old cottage sitting on the hill exerted a pull on her that was quite suddenly irresistible.

The windows reflected the colours of the winter sunset, while the shadows were shortening in the evening light. Just as she’d feared, her mother was standing and watching, huddled into her old tweed coat, as Joe’s car faded from sight. Her heart sank when she realised what that stony gaze meant—her mother was trying not to cry.

With a groan, Faith turned to face the front.

‘What?’ Joe asked, looking at her as if he thought she’d changed her mind. Or maybe he was hoping she had.

Faith felt like crying herself. Why was everyone making it so difficult for her to do what she had her heart set on doing? First her mother, who acted as if life in Melbourne resembled Sodom and Gomorrah, and then Hope with her accusing glances and trem­bling lip. But she refused to let them spoil it for her, and perhaps that more than anything was keeping her from caving in.

‘Did they give you a hard time?’ Joe said quietly.

Straight away she felt he was on her side and there was comfort in that. She managed a smile and a shrug. ‘Sort of.’

Faith had been working in Joe’s mother’s milk bar since she left school a year ago, and while she decided what she wanted to do with her life. She liked it because it made her feel as if she was in the centre of things. Everyone dropped into the milk bar at some point during their day, and when Mrs Cantani wasn’t there, Joe made sure the radio was tuned to the latest hits.

Joe, his older brother, Pete, and his mother had run the place since Mr Cantani died last year, and she’d noticed how much Joe had grown up. She supposed he’d had to. He used to go out with Faith a bit, to the pool or the church socials, just as friends, but now he hardly ever did.

Mrs Cantani had been disappointed when she heard that Faith was leaving. She didn’t like flighty girls and she’d shaken her head as if she didn’t remember what it was like to be seventeen and fright­ened that this was all your life was ever going to be. Joe understood though. He was nineteen, and while he seemed happy enough with the status quo, he’d offered Faith a sympathetic ear on the couple of occasions she had expressed her feelings to him.

‘Mum wants me to bake the best scones and win first prize at the Golden Gully show, just so she can lord it over those old biddies in the CWA. She wants me to go to church every Sunday and marry a man she approves of. She wants to be proud of me, but only if I do what she says and never upset her. But that life wouldn’t be my life, would it? I feel as if the air is being sucked out of me by this place. I need to breathe, Joe!’

‘Wait until you’re twenty-one,’ had been Joe’s advice. ‘Stick around until then and you can do whatever you like.’

‘But that’s four years away!’ Faith had wailed. ‘I can’t wait that long, Joe.’

He’d smiled and looked at her as if he was so much older and wiser, and then he’d surprised her by offering her a lift to Melbourne.

‘I have to pick up some stuff from my uncle. He lives in Coburg. Where are you staying?’

Faith was staying with her cousin Kitty, at least for now. She’d been to Kitty’s twenty-first birthday party, which was what had started this whole yearning to get away from Willow Tree Bend. Faith’s mother, Lily, was so bound up in this small town and her small life that she couldn’t understand anyone wanting something different. Now her words replayed in Faith’s head like an LP from her favourite band, the Allnights.

‘It was that weekend you spent down in Melbourne for Kitty’s party, wasn’t it? Some no-hoper you met put ideas into your head. I knew I shouldn’t have let you go!’

Lily had been red-faced, her fair hair scraped up on top of her head, dressed in her old shirt and trousers. She’d been feeding the few animals left on the farm. Most of their land was leased out for agistment. Since Faith’s father had walked out on them eleven years ago, everything had been down to her. And Lily, once a city girl who had married a country boy, had learned fast. She’d had to.

‘It wasn’t like that,’ Faith had said, trying not to sound desperate. ‘No one’s put ideas into my head. They’re my own ideas, Mum.’

But the party had opened her eyes to what she was missing. People who spoke her language, who understood how she felt and what she wanted, and who related to her in a way her mother never could. And worst of all was the thought that one day she might end up here, at the cottage, in her mother’s shoes.


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