Interesting tale of tragedy

RONAN'S ECHO<br><b>Joanne Van Os</b><br><i>MacMillan</i>
RONAN'S ECHO<br><b>Joanne Van Os</b><br><i>MacMillan</i>
Ronan's Echo is Australian Joanne van Os's fifth novel, and while it slips convincingly enough between three main settings, the characterisation is weak and the situation entirely implausible.

Probable inconsistencies in the family tree make this an even more flimsy narrative.

Kat Kelso is a modern-day forensic anthropologist in New South Wales who has been called upon to assess the remains of Australian soldiers submerged in the soils of Fromelles, France from a 1916 World War 1 battle.

Independent and unwilling in love she angsts about relations with her damaged, withdrawn mother, and past and present suitors. She is the type of character who can confidently involve herself in forensic examinations but who is made ill by rough seas and struggles with emotional life.

The earlier settings focus on the twins Denny and Connor Ronan, who inconveniently are both in love with their enchanting and stunningly beautiful friend Bridie O'Malley. We trace their childhood escapades in Connemara, Ireland, and from here, onto the battlefields of France.

Arrogant Bridie plays one brother against the other. After war wounds and casualties we are introduced to generational demons within the family.

Havoc plays out, and it is this history that Kat Kelso delves into when she finds family connections.

While some of the war scenes are poignant enough they often verge on melodrama. Inevitable romantic scenes are gushy and predictable. Coincidences are forced. As the cover states, ''The legacy of love and war ripples across time . . .''

However, while the quality of this text is doubtful, it does make for an interesting enough tale of interwoven tragedies and how these can lead to ongoing misunderstandings.

- Jessie Neilson is a University of Otago library assistant

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