Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears

Having loved Gillian’s previous novels, The Mint Lawn and The Grass Sister, I eagerly awaited this her third novel, now sixteen years later. I was not disappointed. Set in rural NSW, the novel begins pre world war II with 14year old Noah and her father droving pigs. They arrive at One Tree Farm where Noah gives birth alone by the creek to her uncle’s baby. A grim start and one that sets the tone for the book brilliantly. Though certainly it has its heart-rending moments, it’s not a grim book, but one that tells of the harsh realities of life on the land in an age where cars and technology were only just arriving.

The horses are central characters in this book, as is the landscape itself, their essence beautifully captured in Gillian’s prose. The world of country show high-jumping and it’s people do seem to jump out of the pages. It’s especially about the women of the land, two generations of high-jumpers. It also tells of the lore and myth of the country, tender love, families and their rivalries. She manages her themes beautifully, weaving them in and around the narrative and has a real talent for matching her writing style to the period, putting the reader right there. I loved this book.

review by Sue

One comment

  1. Karen Viggers · November 28, 2011

    I loved it too. Such a lyrical portrayal of real life farming. I especially loved the way Gillian Mears tackled the many fraught and difficult relationships within family, especially husband/wife, mother/daughter, wife/mother-in-law. As a past horse person myself, I did enjoy the horse side of things, but I particularly loved the landscapes and the characters.

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