Harmony – Richard Yaxley – Omnibus Book – Published 1 March 2021
In 1914, Tom Stott falls in love with Gracie O’Donnell, but their love is thwarted by circumstance and war. Tom finds himself part of the blood-soaked landings at Gallipoli, while Gracie marries another. A deception, born in a place and time on the brink of war, traverses the world as successive generations seek freedom in a century of change. It isn’t until American teen Noah Clifford joins his mother Deborah, his grandfather Will and his great-grandmother Gracie in Australia that the secrets of the past are revealed, secrets that will take them back to the beaches of Gallipoli…
Harmony is a unique novel than spans multiple generations. Rich with a variety of character voices and a writing style that makes you pay attention to every single line, Harmony is a novel that compels the reader as much as it disorientates.
I don’t usually read historical YA fiction. I’m even less likely to pick up a war novel. And while Harmony could easily be believed to fit easily in either of these genres, it is not so easily categorised. Harmony does begin with a tale of heroism and a young boy heading off to war. Our first in a line of characters is Tom Stott. Farm boy, brother, son. Also the sweetheart to Gracie O’Donnell. However, when Tom answers the call to arms he leaves behind a pregnant Gracie who must marry another man.
The Happiness Quest – Richard Yaxley – Omnibus Books – Published 1 August 2018
Tillie Bassett is sad, and she doesn’t understand why. Her parents and friends suggest very different, allegedly helpful, remedies. But it is the suggestion of her counsellor, Gilbert the Goldfish, that the answer may lie in finding the nature of happiness.
As Tillie embarks upon her project she discovers that, when it comes to family and friends, nothing is quite as it seems. Secrets are uncovered, old tensions resurface, relationships tangle and untangle, and Tillie realises that everyone struggles balancing sadness and happiness, and living truthfully.
Surprising, unexpected. The Happiness Quest caught my eye with its bright yellow cover. The story inside – unique, slightly disjointed and searching – was not what I expected. Yet, ultimately, it’s hard not to like this quirky story about family, accepting yourself, and, yes, finding happiness.
Tillie’s sad. She’s not sure why, doesn’t really have a reason and anyone’s attempts to help – from yoga, sleeping tablets and mindfulness to ‘its time to move on and shake it off’ – aren’t really helping. Until Tillie and her mum find the Happiness Clinic where Tillie is encouraged to start a quest to find out what happiness is. As she asks her friends and family what happiness means to them, she is surprised by their responses and how, maybe, it’s starting to help her discover what happiness means to her.