This month we discussed The Year of the Farmer by Rosalie Ham.
Many of us have a fondness for Rosalie Ham and have read and enjoyed The Dressmaker and her other novels, so we were looking forward to reading her latest book, The Year of the Farmer. It has her wonderful descriptions of landscape and entertaining Dickensian names for her characters, and she is obviously very passionate about rural communities and the sustainability of water resources for the environment as well as for primary production. Water is the novel’s primary theme and the whole district is on the brink of financial and social collapse because of years of entitlement, mismanagement, exploitation, and corruption as well as a prolonged drought. This is in fact the depressing reality for many farming districts and families throughout Australia but we found Ham’s treatment light weight even frivolous. The story offers a cast of cardboard cutout characters and they interact with “passive aggression, old grudges and fresh pique”. The narrative is reduced to a love story and a thinly veiled murder mystery.
So we were all disappointed to some degree and our ratings reflect that. Although most of us found it “a light and easy read”, we felt it lacked credibility, was unsubtle with its political agenda, clichèd and predictable. While our hero Mitch was naively optimistic, he lacked in any self-determination or grit, his wife Mandy was wholly awful and he left all his problems to be solved by Neralie his childhood sweetheart. Ham goes on far too long about the technical details of irrigation and water trading but doesn’t offer any insights into the issues raised about who owns rivers systems or how to address ecological disaster. The barely token acknowledgement of Indigenous presence was an unacceptable oversight. Thanks to everyone for our bumper attendance and a great discussion.
Ratings: Cindy 3.5, Claudia 2.5, Di 3, Gail 2.5, Janet DNF, Jillian 2, Judith 2, Kim 3, Lynda 3, Margy 2, Nicola 3, Pauline 3, Rosemary 3.5, and Viv 2.5.
Our next meeting will be 12/08/19 at 6:30PM at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to discuss Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles.
Hope to see you all there and happy reading!
We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.
For more information use the contact form.