The Fine Color of Rust

A Novel

The Fine Color of Rust

Set in the Australian outback, a wryly funny, beautifully observed novel about friendship, motherhood, love, and the importance of fighting for things that matter.

Set in the Australian bush, a wryly funny, beautifully observed novel about friendship, motherhood, love, and the importance of fighting for things that matter.

Loretta Boskovic never dreamed she would end up a single mother with two kids in a dusty Australian country town. She never imagined she’d have to campaign to save the local primary school. She certainly had no idea her best friend would turn out to be the crusty old junk man. All in all, she’s starting to wonder if she took a wrong turn somewhere. If only she could drop the kids at the orphanage and start over . . . But now, thanks to her protest letters, the education minister is coming to Gunapan, and she has to convince him to change his mind about the school closure. And as if facing down the government isn’t enough, it soon becomes clear that the school isn’t the only local spot in trouble. In the drought-stricken bushland on the outskirts of town, a luxury resort development is about to siphon off a newly discovered springwater supply. No one seems to know anything, no one seems to care.

With a dream lover on a Harley unlikely to appear to save the day, Loretta needs to stir the citizens of Gunapan to action. She may be short of money, influence, and a fully functioning car, but she has good friends. Together they can organize chocolate drives, supermarket sausage sizzles, a tour of the local slaughterhouse—whatever it takes to hold on to the scrap of world that is home. Warm, moving, and funny, The Fine Color of Rust is “a story about love: where we look for it, what we do with it, and how it shows up in the most unexpected packages” (Big Issue, Australia).
  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451678161 | 
  • September 2012
List Price $19.99
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Fine Color of Rust includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Loretta Boskovic is a woman struck with the Gunapan curse—her husband, Tony, ran off after ten years, leaving her with only two resources to bring up her children in this small Australian town: a part-time job and a robust sense of humor. When the government threatens to shut down Gunapan’s only school, Loretta leaps into action to rally the community around the cause. And when she and her unlikely friend, the old junk man Norm, sense suspicious activity within the city council, Loretta finds her way through the corruption to uncover the real truth. She may be short on money, influence, and glamorous outfits, but with the help of her devoted friends and unflagging spirit, Loretta is ready to defend the true beauty of her imperfect home.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. O’Reilly describes the Japanese word sabi in the book’s epigraph as “the simple beauty of worn and imperfect and impermanent things.” How does this theme manifest itself in The Fine Color of Rust?
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About the Author

Paddy O'Reilly
Photograph courtesy of the author

Paddy O'Reilly

Paddy O’Reilly is the award-winning author of the novels The Factory and The Fine Color of Rust, as well as the short story collection The End of the World. She lives in Victoria, Australia. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @Paddy_OReilly.