FLY IN FLY OUT
Author: Georgina Penney
Michael Joseph RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Fly In Fly Out is my introduction to the witty writing style of Georgina Penney – an introduction I’m glad to have made. Released for the Australian summer, the novel is aimed at those looking for a light, escapist read that combines humour and romance with common life issues pertaining to career, lifestyle and so on. However, the novel has darker undertones by way of a particularly “messy” past, with a history of family violence a key motivator for lead character Jo Blaine’s life choices and behaviour.
Exhausted and cranky, the last thing Jo Blaine expects to find when she arrives home after several months working offshore is a naked man in her bed. Especially since she’s not in a relationship right now … it seems her best friend, Scott, has some explaining to do, and Jo isn’t too impressed with the scenario he’s presenting her with. Scott has arranged for Stephen Hardy, the man Jo has tried so hard to leave in the past, to house and cat-sit while Jo’s away, and Jo is less than happy with the arrangement. For his part, Stephen just wants to make up for his role in Jo’s sudden move from their home town, and after some fast talking, she agrees to let him stay while she’s away. What neither anticipated was their attraction to one another and how hard it would be for Jo to leave again. And independent Jo also has to get used to sharing more than just her house, after her family issues come to the fore.
The fly-in, fly-out lifestyle (or FIFO) is common in my home state of Western Australia, both domestic in the mines and off-shore on the oil rigs. Money-wise, it’s a big drawcard. However, the lifestyle often has a negative flow-on effect on families and relationships, as well as on individuals, with depression and suicide rates currently the subject of an inquiry. While Penney distances herself from the darker outcomes of FIFO lifestyles, she explores the high price the lifestyle can have on relationships through her character, Jo, an engineer working on a male-dominated oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean. As the novel progresses and a new relationship gets underway, Jo has to ask herself, “is it worth it?”. Penney tackles this dilemma well, accounting for the additional complication of Jo’s hard-won independence.
The storyline pertaining to Jo’s background adds drama to the romantic scenario, creating conflict by way of Jo’s reluctance to tell Stephen about that part of her life. It comes from a place of protectiveness, so it’s understandable, really. This storyline is particularly sad (no spoilers) and Penney dealt with it well. Not only did it highlight an important issue, but it allowed Stephen to develop and step up as Jo fell apart, a much-needed development for his part. He never is the alpha male character of romance lore, with Jo’s character coming across as the more dominant, and I think, leaping past the pages of the book, this would have become an issue eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect him to be an alpha male – the relationship just needed some balance as Jo always seemed to be in the driving seat (her coping mechanism, I guess). The steamy scene in King’s Park is a perfect example – boy, was that unexpected!
I really enjoyed Fly In Fly Out. It’s funny, sassy, suspenseful and just has a terrific romantic vibe. I’ve since discovered there is a prequel, Irresistible You; a third book in the series is part of the plan. Both of these are on my to-read list!
Available from good bookstores and Penguin Books Australia. My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.
Bookish treat: I found the peanut butter Lindt balls I was given as a Christmas present …