Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Woolgrower's Companion Blog Tour
28 June 2018
My thanks to the author and her publisher for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family's sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But with her father succumbing to wounds he's borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate's shoulders.
With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower's Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too -- especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.
Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.
What did I think about it.,
Kate Dowd calls Amiens, the sprawling sheep station in New South Wales, home but with her husband away in the war and her father's failing health, life on the station is anything but settled. The arrival of two Italian Prisoners of War help to ease the load a little but with the threat of bankruptcy not far away, Kate soon finds that her life is about to change forever.
The Woolgrower's Companion is set in 1945 and both the era and the place is captured so beautifully that I was quickly immersed in life at Amiens, which is named because of Kate's father's experience at the Battle of Amiens during the Great War. And whilst the Australian outback is somewhere I am never likely to visit, nevertheless, the author's glorious descriptions of this remote place with its big skies and drought riven watering holes comes to life, so realistically, that I felt as if I was in the kitchen garden alongside Kate, feeding the chooks and watching the colourful lorikeets swoop and fly.
In many ways this is a complex and multifaceted story which demonstrates just how complicated life was for women during this time and even though Kate was the only person holding the farm together, the ignorance and prejudices of the men in her world only seemed to make her circumstances more complicated. The story touches on several other injustices especially in the way that Daisy, the aboriginal house maid is treated, however, the author touches on these prejudices with a sensitive and compassionate air but still gets the message across that this was a different time with complicated social morality.
The Woolgrower’s Companion is about so much more than social injustice. It's also a wonderfully sensitive love story between two people who are from very different worlds, and yet who find shared companionship in extraordinary circumstances. It's also an inspiring story of survival when the odds are stacked against you and it’s about the strength of this woman, Kate Dowd, who sets out to get the job done when, as a woman, everyone thinks that she wouldn’t be able to function in a man’s world.
Inspired by the story of the author’s grandmother who lived on the family’s sheep farm in New South Wales, The Woolgrower’s Companion is a beautifully written and stunning debut novel which sits really comfortably within its time frame and which brings this forgotten, but beautiful, place to life in such a wonderful way.
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. She now lives in London with her French husband and their two young children, but she misses the Australian sky. The Woolgrower's Companion is her first book