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"Flying The Nest is the beachy new novel that tells a very modern story about parenting."

HQ Fiction
Thanks to our brand partner, HQ Fiction

A really good book makes you feel like you've found a new friend - one that resonates with you, and one who you can learn from. That's exactly how I felt in Rachael Johns' new novel, Flying the Nest

Rachael Johns is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author from Western Australia, known for several women's fiction novels including Just One Wish, Lost Without You and The Patterson Girls. She is famed for her mastery of the craft of telling women's stories, and Flying The Nest is once again testament to that.

It is a story told from the perspective of a Perth woman, Ashling King, a 39-year-old stay-at-home mother-of-two. That's how she sees herself, anyway; through the prism of her marriage and motherhood.

But preparing snacks for her kids one day, her husband casually announces he would like a separation. It's like a bucket of ice-cold, piercing water has unceremoniously been poured onto her. 

Really? Our marriage is to end... just-like-that? 

On the cusp of 40, she is seemingly collateral damage in her husband's mid-life crisis. In mere moments, Ash is forced to reassess everything she understood about her own life, her identity, and, yes, her very existence.

Adrian, her husband, would like to adopt 'bird's nest parenting' - when the kids stay in one home and the separated parents take turns living in that home, alternating between there and a second home. The idea is to stop the children from becoming frisbees in a new family set-up and essentially keeping the focus on the wellbeing of the children.

Sure, it sounds amicable. But Ash doesn't want this. The child of divorced parents herself, this was never - ever - part of Ash’s life plans. But there's also not much she can do about it. Her husband has, apparently, made up his mind.

And just like a bucket of cold water being poured over your head, it provides her the fresh start she never knew she needed.

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Suddenly, Ash is forced to navigate a new chapter in life. It's no easy task. She hasn't been in the workforce for the past 15 years. She has nowhere to stay, other than with her sister-in-law (who also happens to be her best friend).

Then, in the murky world of separation, Ash is unexpectedly offered the opportunity to renovate a seaside cottage in Ragged Point, a Western Australian coastal town of about 500 people. It's the perfect escapism for her.

Johns explores Ash's family life through a very contemporary lens. Of course, Ash desperately wants to put her family back together, but she's also on a journey of rediscovering her own identity and regaining her own independence.

For more than a decade she has consistently and selflessly taken on the job of being a stay-at-home parent, and now, she will choose to look after herself as well. Sure, she feels the weight of guilt for not seeing her children for a week at a time, but she also finds joy in her newfound chapter.

The conversations between the characters are current, and Ash's concerns are so intimately in touch with the contemporary world. How do you re-enter the workforce after a 15-year career break? Why is your teenage son locking himself in his bedroom? Is it because of porn? Relatedly, how do you deal with a son who is addicted to violent video games? And what do you do if you’ve lost the sexual spark in your marriage? You know, if intimacy is more of a chore than a joy?

It is not just a story of a modern-day marriage and separation, but also an exploration of empowering and empathetic female friendships. Throughout the story, one of Ash's saving graces is the women who turn up on her doorstep with wine, ready to laugh and cry with her.

It's the kind of book you'll want all your friends to read, so that after you can sit around - with wine and cheese - to discuss Ash's story, but also your own families and friendships, careers and ambitions. This story makes you think about your own understanding of what a romantic relationship should entail, and your own perception of what a 'family unit' looks like in the 21st century.

Flying the Nest is a disarmingly all-too-real portrayal of what happens when the traditional roles of wife and mother are turned on their head. This is a book that women will want to bond over, share laughs and tears over – a must read for every woman who has had their life take an unexpected turn.

We all know that no one ever wants a cold bucket of water thrown over their head. But this book teaches us that sometimes, it's not such a bad thing.

With its balance of light and shade, Flying The Nest is a satisfying poolside read for summer, a great book club option, or perhaps even a gift for someone this Christmas.

Flying The Nest is available to buy now at all good bookstores, as well as in store and online at BIG W, also available in eBook from Apple Books and also in audiobook on Audible

HQ Fiction
Flying The Nest is currently The Book Stack Bookclub - Book of the Month. The Book Stack is an inclusive community of passionate readers who want to read quality fiction across a wide range of genres and connect with other book lovers. Join now and receive book lists, reading challenges and suggestions for more reading, as well as some exciting giveaways and competitions.
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