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• Publication date: 8 Jun 2017

• Publisher: Vintage Digital

• Language: English

• ASIN: B01M01XYAW

Delighted to be on the blog tour for such a wonderful book. Thanks to the author and publisher for my ARC copy.

Praise for the book

I love The Woolgrower’s Companion, a heart-breaking tale beautifully told. This compelling story of war and love, of family and prejudice is magical and its characters and place are so deeply evocative, I can’t wait to read it again” (Kathryn Stockett, bestselling author of The Help)

“Over the course of one year, Kate finds a strength and defiance she never knew she had in this fascinating debut novel” (Red Magazine)

“A story of survival and forbidden love, this hooks you in from the atmospheric first pages, and will have you rooting for the feisty heroine” (Sunday Mirror)

A heart-breaking love story from a great new voice” (Sue Price Saga)

“A novel about endurance and a stubborn will to survive, it is written with passion and intensity that is hugely attractive” (Elizabeth Buchan)

“This sweeping epic set in rural New South Wales is about love, family and testing your mettle — and it’s compulsively readable. Just the thing for those lazy summer days” (Marie Claire Australia)

“Be immersed in the harsh, rugged romance of the Aussie bush, thanks to a wonderful new voice in literary rural fiction” (Australian Women’s Weekly)

An easy-to-read tale of Australian rural life and family drama … Rhoades paints a vivid picture of the Australian bush, the strict social code, snobbery and racism” (Sue Barraclough Irish News)

A moving story … While the subject matter of drought, mental illness, war and a battle with finances sounds like a tough read, The Woolgrower’s Companion is anything but. Author Joy Rhoades is a skilful writer who draws readers in with a story that twists and turns” (Melbourne Weekly Times)

“The descriptions of life on a 1940s Australian sheep station are authentic, as are all the characters that inhabit this often confronting landscape… Its honesty and truth shine through on every page, and it deserves the highest recommendation” (Historical Novels Review)

My Review

This wonderful book is currently my favourite book of the year so far.

I’m a fan of Australian fiction. I love the gritty down to earth humour of Australians and their renowned laid back attitude to life in general. I’m also fascinated by the history of Australia and the history of indigenous Aboriginal Australians – the original inhabitants of the land.

This is a beautifully crafted tale set in 1945 in a remote sheep station in the outback in New South Wales. The owner of the land Frank O’Dowd was a soldier during The First World War and obtained the land under the Soldier Settlement scheme. He called the property Amiens after a place in Picardy Northern France and an area significant to Australian wartime history.

Soldier settlement refers to the settlement of land throughout parts of Australia by returning discharged soldiers under schemes administered by the state governments after World Wars I and II.

Source: Wikipedia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_settlement_(Australia)

Frank is a widower who lives with his daughter Kate. Frank, although already suffering from the mental scars of his service during the war and grief for his late wife is developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and becoming more and more forgetful and eventually is unable to deal with the every day running of the property running up huge debts that need repaying. Kate has no choice but to step into his shoes and take over the management role but not without experiencing the negative attitudes of some of the men working on the farm. Prejudice towards women is a strong feature of the book and indicative of the attitudes towards women at that time and also the prejudice towards the Aboriginal farm workers and Aborigines in general is heart-breaking to read about but part of Australian history.

When Italian POW’s arrive as labour on the farm Kate, newly married to a soldier who is away doing war service is attracted to one of them and this of course has interesting consequences.

I can only imagine the enormous amount of research needed to produce this book. The author uses the local vernacular of the area and time period and the book is in essence an all consuming descriptive time capsule of that period.

I could see everything in my minds eye and I could picture the dry heat, the lack of water, the challenging animal husbandry of looking after farm animals when water is scarce. The beautiful birds and the dusty landscape.

I loved the little snippets about sheep from The Woolgrower’s periodical journal that preface each chapter.

The book kept me absolutely enthralled and I took it everywhere with me.

Fascinating doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I’m reluctant to pass this one on to anybody and it deserves a re-read so will be buying copies of this book for friends and family.

I really hope the sequel is out soon because I can’t wait to read it.

To Purchase on Amazon UK

To Purchase from Waterstones

About The Author

Joy Rhoades was born in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia, with an early memory of flat country and a broad sky. Growing up, she loved two things best: reading and the bush, often climbing a tree to sit with a book. Her family would visit her grandmother, a fifth-generation grazier and a gentle teller of stories of her life on her family’s sheep farm.

At 13, Joy left for Brisbane, first for school and then to study law at university. After graduating, she worked all over the world as a lawyer. It was in New York that she completed a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the New School University, and the people, the history, and the landscape of her childhood led her to start writing The Woolgrower’s Companion.

She now lives in London with her French husband and their two young children, but she misses the Australian sky.

Follow the rest of the blog tour