WOMEN'S FICTION:  One woman’s journey through the profound grief of suddenly losing her soulmate husband. Annie and Alex Tremayne were very much in love and ran a sheep farm in beautiful Tasmania. Then Alex dies in a random farm accident, it leaves Annie adrift and lost. ‘Passage’ is Annie’s journey through grief to the other side. In grief, sometimes one finds oneself in a holding pattern and unable to move on, but Annie is able to find solace in her friends and her dog.
Ms. Batten has the gift of penning fantastic imagery that transports the reader to the protagonist’s setting with detailed and wonderful descriptions. Supporting characters are alive with personality, including the not-so-likeable ones. Annie’s story, however, is slow to move forward but seems to find itself until about two-thirds through. She has two grown sons, one who takes on the farm responsibilities and one who is estranged.   Annie’s grief is all consuming and flahsbacks are frequent, many times dragging the story along. True conflict is shallow, despite the seriousness of the story. The ending dropped suddenly off, with no resolution, leaving the reader wondering what would be next for Annie. She just seems to be adrift from beginning to end. Alex stays by Annie’s side throughout, comforting and coaching as needed, and doling out practical observations and advice. Not a ghost but as a voice and real man. One might question whether Alex is truly present or a by-product of Annie’s deep grief. Throughout the book, readers truly want to see Annie find a love again to fill the ache in her heart. Or at least peace within her soul.
Emerson Matthews