Anybody who has emigrated or even moved a great distance within their own country will relate to the struggles and joys that the Richardson family encounter as they settle into their new life in sunny Queensland. From the unfamiliar places, terms and phrases to the need for air-conditioning even in winter, the story has a "real-life" feel to it that makes the characters easy to relate to. The wrench of leaving family behind so far away is also dealt with in an honest and raw way, which again is a theme many readers will relate to.
The characters in Distance are well drawn as are the physical descriptions of the two very different locations the novel is set. I could feel the biting cold of the UK winter and relate to the humid warmth of Rockhampton. The language is easygoing and the book is very readable from start to finish. The pace could probably have been a little faster in places and the earlier chapters compressed a little, but in saying that the story did not drag or get boring. My only other minor quibble would be that at times the line between novel and autobiography got a little blurred. I don't mean it is Nene Davies' own autobiography, just that the way the story is delivered sometimes felt narrated rather than shown through dialogue and action.
All in all this is a very enjoyable book that will have you laughing, crying and nodding your head in agreement in equal measure. I became engrossed in the Richardson family's journey and was kept engaged from start to finish. It is a wonderful debut by first time novelist Nene Davies and I look forward to her next book.