Loretta Boskovic never dreamed she would end up a single mother with two kids in a dusty Australian country town. She never imagined she’d have to campaign to save the local primary school. She certainly had no idea her best friend would turn out to be the crusty old junk man. All in all, she’s starting to wonder if she took a wrong turn somewhere. If only she could drop the kids at the orphanage and start over . . . But now, thanks to her protest letters, the education minister is coming to Gunapan, and she has to convince him to change his mind about the school closure. And as if facing down the government isn’t enough, it soon becomes clear that the school isn’t the only local spot in trouble. In the drought-stricken bushland on the outskirts of town, a luxury resort development is about to siphon off a newly discovered springwater supply. No one seems to know anything, no one seems to care.
With a dream lover on a Harley unlikely to appear to save the day, Loretta needs to stir the citizens of Gunapan to action. She may be short of money, influence, and a fully functioning car, but she has good friends. Together they can organize chocolate drives, supermarket sausage sizzles, a tour of the local slaughterhouse—whatever it takes to hold on to the scrap of world that is home.
Shortlisted in the 2013 ALS Gold Medal for ‘a work of outstanding literary merit’
Starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers’ Weekly
“ought to be one of the sought-after books of the year” The Sydney Morning Herald
” … a line should be drawn under The Fine Colour of Rust as the pinnacle of the genre.” The Australian
“Loretta is one entertaining, compelling narrator, funny and self-deprecating, with an acerbic wit and occasional histrionics that belie a deep love of the people around her…A truly moving surprise at the end reveals O’Reilly’s point all along, that there is value in things that don’t cost anything and true beauty in a pile of junk.” Booklist USA starred review
“hilarious and tenderly moving” Publishers Weekly starred review Read full review
“What sets this down-home comedy apart from the norm is how wonderfully well it is written. O’Reilly is funny and touching by turns and her style has a spare intelligence” Daily Mail UK
“O’Reilly’s literary skill and startling wit are evident in this feel-good novel, bringing the fictional town of Gunapan alive in all its homely intricacy, and dust… What O’Reilly has created in The Fine Colour of Rust is a rollicking narrative of life in rural Australia that, while warmly drawing upon the familiar terrains, troubles and tropes of that landscape, simultaneously presents an arresting picture of the nation, as seen through the eyes of a savvy mother who, immersed in the day-to-day business of getting by, dares also to love, to dream, to crack a good joke.” ABR (Australian Book Review)
“At key moments, O’Reilly displays a deft poetic touch that elevates the prose from functional to transcendent… This is a story about love: where we look for it, what we do with it and how it shows up in the most unexpected packages. It is warm, moving and funny” The Big Issue
Amazon UK Editors’ February Pick of the Month
“O’Reilly is notable… for her comic energy and elan and that consciousness of everyday beauty, the patina of imperfection that she quietly extols.” The Adelaide Advertiser
“a novel that is as self-aware as it is tightly written, clever and quick.” Readings
“It’s the ordinary human mystery of O’Reilly’s characters that keeps us guessing and the novel’s unsentimental celebration of just getting by that makes it sing.” Sunday Age
Apple iBookstore Book of the Week March 15
“The Fine Colour of Rust is a little Aussie cracker.” New Zealand Herald
‘A delight … The author has a wryly-humorous touch and, once I started reading, I found it hard to put down. It’s peopled with characters who are quirky but credible, and universally recognizable.’ New Books Mag
“Delightful, laugh-out-loud funny and unforgettable. I love this book.” Toni Jordan, author of Nine Days, Addition and Fall Girl
The Fine Colour of Rust, is a bit of a departure in style for me, which is why I am using the author name P.A. O’Reilly. It is what is called a ‘crossover literary-commercial’ book, in contrast to my earlier books which didn’t cross anywhere and were placed firmly in the literary section of the bookshop.