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Aussies get a taste for Jackson's Peppermint

Michelle Jackson's latest novel will resonate with many Irish readers who have been touched by the heartbreak of emigration.

She has had four bestsellers with her winning combination of good stories and dream holidays in New York, Biarritz, Las Vegas and Havana. Now, the destination is Australia, but this time, it involves a one-way ticket.

Julia is a successful Dublin businesswoman, rather like Jane Austen's Emma, meddling in her friends' affairs but never meeting the right man herself.

When she organises a temporary job in Australia for her best friend Ruth, little does she know where her meddling will lead.

Before she leaves, Ruth finds a letter in the attic written by her mother and addressed to a man in 5 Peppermint Grove, in Perth, and it is Julia who encourages Ruth to follow it up.

Ruth's parents had spent time in Australia during the last recession but never spoke of it and it is only when Ruth's mother visits from Ireland that the secrets she has harboured are revealed and Ruth's temporary sojourn in Oz becomes permanent.

A host of supporting characters provide warmth and humour and help the friends and family to reconcile themselves with being so far apart. There are a few surprise romances too.

Written with Jackson's trademark eye for detail, 5 Peppermint Grove effortlessly transports the reader between Howth and the sunnier climes of Perth, with plenty of twists and turns and a sense of adventure.

It is resonating with Australians too. Since its publication, Jackson has been inundated by Australian newspapers wanting her take on the Irish diaspora there.

Funny and empathetic, it is probably her best work yet.

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Ann Dunne

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