Why we love it: In her latest novel, Southern Ruby, Belinda Alexandra transports us from Sydney to the seductive world of New Orleans. In her signature style, she teases out the long-held secrets of one family’s dark past.
When Amanda, who was orphaned as a child, loses her dear grandmother, she finds a letter from her unknown family in New Orleans – a family her grandmother refused to talk about. Amanda had always felt that a part of her was missing so, desperate to learn her father’s heritage, she leaves Sydney in search of this mysterious family from the other side of the world.
In New Orleans, Amanda’s grandmother Ruby is hiding the family secrets and living a life constrained by social mores and class boundaries but when the granddaughter she lost in a custody battle arrives in New Orleans, she begins to slowly reveal the tightly secreted truth that she has kept buried for so long. With Amanda’s arrival, she can finally free herself from the shame of forbidden love and the double life she has been leading.
Amanda discovers that her father was a jazz musician and meets Elliot, a professor of music theory with a love for jazz. Slowly, with Elliot at her side, she begins to uncover the truth about her father and the real reason behind her parent’s fatal car crash.
Southern Ruby is a heart-warming book that had us smiling, even as we tried to suppress the tears. Once Ruby’s story merges with Amanda’s, we are gripped by this intriguing plot and find it hard to leave this book alone. It’s a sweeping story that spans two generations and with Alexandra’s vivid descriptions, conveys us into the heady, historical city that is New Orleans from the 1950s to the modern day and the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. With its invigorating mix of jazz, superstition and Creole culture, it’s the perfect backdrop for this captivating novel.
Belinda Alexandra has been published to wide acclaim in Australia and New Zealand, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Norway and Greece. She is the daughter of a Russian mother and Australian father, and has been an intrepid traveller since her youth. Her love of other cultures and languages is matched by her passion for her home country, Australia, where she is a volunteer rescuer and carer for the NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES).