The Saddler Boys (by Fiona Palmer): A review


You can read a Take 10 interview with Fiona Palmer here.

From bestselling author Fiona Palmer, hailed as Australia’s queen of rural romance, comes The Saddler Boys, a heart-soaring new romance between a city schoolteacher and an outback single dad, all set in a tiny town in rural Western Australia. 

In The Saddler Boys, city girl schoolteacher Natalie craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead with her fiancé

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing father, Drew Saddler, a single dad with a complicated past. 

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of and where she truly belongs. 

Fiona does not disappoint in her seventh novel in seven years. In The Saddler Boys she brings us what we have grown to love and expect in her stories — strong women, colourful country characters, a sense of home, the Australian landscape and a sprinkling of good old romance.”

I had been highly anticipating the release of Fiona Palmer’s The Saddler Boys ever since I first heard it was coming out (almost two years before hand!) Having previously read all of Fiona’s other rural romances, I knew that it would an exciting read combining the country life we know and love, with a good old romance. The book definitely did not disappoint!

As soon as the book arrived, there was conflict in the house as to who would have the privilege to read it first! “But I’m already home and you’re not!” “But I read faster than you!” At first we comprimised, and it was decided that my sister and I would both read it! For a while, we both had our own bookmarks in the book at different sections and would rotate the reading privileges. If I put the book down for just two seconds to get a drink, it would be gone by the time I came back… and if she had to stop for a toilet break, consider the book mine again (for a while). 

Eventually, after several instances of bookmarks falling out, I gained sole reading privileges! My sister really needn’t have worried though, because I finished the entire novel in less than 24 hours. And then my sister read it in only four days, and my mum as well. By the end of week, the book had passed through three members of our household and loved by all.

I do have to say that I believe it is the fastest I have ever read a Fiona Palmer book (and I have loved all her others!) and I might even go as far as saying that it is my favourite Fiona Palmer book yet. Yep, it’s really that good! I loved the characters, and the storyline, which highlights the significant issue of rural school closures as well as domestic violence and drug abuse.

There are many things that I enjoy about Fiona’s books, including that….

They are very addictive and hook you in right from the very start.

The Saddler Boys was no different. There’s a prologue at the beginning which features an event that happens about half way through the book. From the very beginning, I was hooked and intrigued to find out who this lady was and the story behind the event. All through the book there’s little things like that, making you never want to put the book down! 

They are relatable.

I think that the main reason Fiona’s books are so appealing to me is because they are so relatable! I love that they are set in the Wheatbelt and feature places, people and activities I know! It’s just so special. Like in The Saddler Boys, there is mention of Nat Fyfe and Tuck Waldron and Wave Rock and Walker’s Hill Vineyard, as well as things like the effect of losing Year 7’s to high school on small communities. Whilst these things might not be significant to someone from the city reading the book, they all mean so much to us Wheatbelt residents! And obviously the story of a city school teacher falling for a farmer is one that most small towns are familiar with 🙂

They are easy to read.

Like all of Fiona’s past books, The Saddler Boys is so easy to read. You don’t have to think too hard or go back over parts because you didn’t understand it. And there are no big words that you have to reference a dictionary for. Therefore, it’s really easy to get stuck in the story and carried away into the life of Natalie, Drew and Billy.

I was sort of hoping that the school would stay open, and Natalie had saved the day, I mean, wouldn’t that be the fairy tale ending? And so it made me sad when the school closed… but it just makes the story so much more real. And there are other good things at the end of the book to make up for it 🙂

My mum, forever the book critic, who uses her editing skills to pick out every little mistake that no one else notices as they are too absorbed in the actual story line, loved it. She has also read all of Fiona’s past books, and said that The Saddler Boys is the best one by far.

My sister also loved it. And let me just tell you that she never reads books. Seeing her read a book is like seeing me running. It just doesn’t happen. So for her to read the entire book, in less than four days, is pretty amazing!

I’m fairly easy to please when it comes to books, but my mum and sister are another story, so I think the fact that we all loved it is very noteworthy!

I would 100% recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story set in the Wheatbelt! You can grab your own copy right now from Fiona’s website or any good bookshop. 

At this rate, Fiona’s books just keep getting better so I am already looking forward to reading her next book!

You can read a Take 10 interview with Fiona Palmer here.

If you’ve read The Saddler Boys, we’d love to know what you thought?

Penguin Books sent Wheatbelt Local a copy of The Saddler Boys, although all opinions are my own and 100% true!

  1. I have read a few of her books and enjoyed them. With little kids it is hard to find the time to read but I will try and get my hands on a copy of this one.

    • I would really recommend reading The Saddler Boys Anne (if you can find the time!) Wouldn’t it be great if they came as audio books as well to listen to in the car etc.? 🙂

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