Once again with The Shop at Hooper’s Bend, author Emily Rodda has shown why she is known widely as Australia’s greatest storyteller. If you like coincidences and are always making connections with events, you will likely enjoy this book.

The story goes that two people are travelling simultaneously to the small country town of Hooper’s Bend. One (Bailey) is determined to get there and quite conscious about her destination. She leaves her city job and believes she will be at Hooper’s Bend for a short time only to manage the shop she has inherited – then she will be on her way. Or so she thinks…

The other, a young orphan girl called “Quil” is sick of her ordinary life. Unbeknown to her guardians she is travelling by train seeking a place she can call home. She finds herself in a typical small country Australian town with a strong sense of community.

I found myself getting lost in this book – enjoying the sequence of coincidences that led to the characters coming together as family.

Emily Rodda’s characters are never squeaky clean they are always tainted in some way. I like this because they strive to be better whilst leading the reader down interesting, believable and at times chaotic paths. 

There are a few pages mentioning coincidences ‘in the stars’ – Quil is confused and searching for meaning.

Eventually the truths she hides will be revealed. However throughout the story most of the thoughts she has are based on sound judgement about the values in people she meets, and in herself. She has the judgement to know how she is similar as well as how she differs, from Bailey, the main character who has more years and knowledge than she does.

Each of the people who rent the little shop from Bailey have a passion for what they are selling – even if they have been unsuccessful in the past. Although they are simple, each still has a story – now is given a new chance.

But just as in real life, there are so many things that go on behind the facade of a shop. With a young orphan living there too, there are even more twists to the story.

Will main character Bailey stay in this new life or return to the city? Will the young Quil sort out her young issues and secrets she keeps from Bailey? Will the old shop survive?

A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time wife and mother.