Sunday, 21 October 2018

Book Review: The Year of the Farmer (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: The Year of the Farmer
Author: Rosalie Ham
Publisher: Picador Australia 
Publication Date: 25th September 2018
RRP: $32.99
Pages: 336
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: Courtesy of Publisher

In a quiet farming town somewhere in country New South Wales, war is brewing.
The last few years have been punishingly dry, especially for the farmers, but otherwise, it's all Neralie Mackintosh's fault. If she'd never left town then her ex, the hapless but extremely eligible Mitchell Bishop, would never have fallen into the clutches of the truly awful Mandy, who now lords it over everyone as if she owns the place.
So, now that Neralie has returned to run the local pub, the whole town is determined to reinstate her to her rightful position in the social order. But Mandy Bishop has other ideas. Meanwhile the head of the local water board - Glenys 'Gravedigger' Dingle - is looking for a way to line her pockets at the expense of hardworking farmers already up to their eyes in debt. And Mandy and Neralie's war may be just the chance she was looking for...
A darkly satirical novel of a small country town battling the elements and one another, from the bestselling author of The Dressmaker.

Mitch’s life has been hell. His crops are failing and his sheep are hungry but he has decided that life is going to turn around and this is going to be his year.
First the rain comes then the love of his life, Neralie, returns home after 5 years in Sydney and it looks like he may get the year he envisaged. The only problem is the rain has come too early and may ruin his crop and he is now married; to the town’s nemesis.

The Year of the Farmer is a cleverly written satire, a dark tragicomedy, that will have you laughing out loud at the overly exaggerated characters all placed neatly in their respective boxes and performing perfectly on cue.

The small town is under threat from the drought and the water authority is doing everything it can to make life more difficult (on the pretense of helping them) for the farmers whilst making a little money on the side for themselves; that retirement fund. But the biggest threat will come from one of their own! A furious wife hell bent on fitting in but letting her hurt fuel her need for revenge.

I loved this story! There are a multitude of characters introduced one straight after the other which I found hard to sort out but as the story progresses everyone fits into their place.

The story brings to light the plight of the farmers and the devastating effect of the drought and the nonsensical stipulations and regulations set by the water authorities.
Ham shows the deep connection that the farmers have with their land and how they have intense feelings of letting their ancestors down when they lose their farm that has been handed down through the generations.

They were a town that stuck together when hearts were broken but even more so when their farms and livelihoods were at stake.
Then suddenly, in  groups of two or three, the councillors, irrigators, riparians and townies left the pub and went, united, into the black star-speckled night, the smooth barrels of their loaded guns frosted silver by the moonlight’

I felt quite sorry for Mandy, Mitch’s wife, her only aim in life was to be someone, to fit in, but the whole town despised her and where Mitch’s moments of infidelity were encouraged hers were frowned upon. I’d be very interested to know what other readers thought of Mandy and her actions.

In today’s life where we expect everything, including our reads, to be fast paced and instantly gratifying this slow paced and slightly quirky novel may not appeal to everyone.

My rating 4/5                          🌟🌟🌟🌟

Content: for those that are sensitive to animal deaths; animals die in this story.

The Year of the Farmer is book #30 in the Australian Women Writers challenge
and part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie Author Challenge

Rosalie Ham is the author of three previous books, including her sensational bestseller The Dressmaker, now an award-winning film starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving.

Rosalie Ham was born, and raised in Jerilderie, NSW, Australia. She completed her secondary education at St Margaret's School, Berwick in 1972. After travelling and working at a variety of jobs (including aged care) for most of her twenties, Rosalie completed a Bachelor of Education majoring in Drama and Literature (Deakin University, 1989), and achieved a Master of Arts, Creative Writing (RMIT, Melbourne) in 2007. Rosalie lives in Brunswick, Melbourne, and when she is not writing, Rosalie teaches literature. Her novels have sold over 50,000 copies. 

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  Facebook  



  1. Not sure that this is one for me but great review.

    1. Thank you. It's probably not a story that would appeal to all.

  2. Glad you enjoyed! It doesnt seem like something i would read, but i may still check it out.

    1. It's probably not a story for everyone. A satire with lots of dark humour.

  3. Thanks for your trigger warning. Think I'll give this one a miss.

    1. I know some people get very upset over animal deaths even in a fictional setting.

  4. This sounds like a good book to read.

    1. Dark humour and also touching on a series situation with our farmers; the drought.

  5. Seems good, and thanks for the trigger warning.

  6. Great review! This sounds interesting.

  7. I've read a few books set on farms in the Australian outback. Sounds like a great read.

    1. If you like stories darkly funny and a bit of a send up of outback towns you will enjoy it.

  8. Great review, I don't think this is my kind of book that I would read but I am really glad you enjoy this book fully. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  9. This is the first review I've read that includes a CW for the poor animals - THANK YOU! I would also think that at the moment, here in Australia, some of the drought-related stuff might cut a bit close to the bone - a lot of people are really struggling, in dire need. BUT on the other hand, the timing of this book's release was pretty much perfect: farmers and drought are all over the news every single day, so it's getting a lot of attention.

    1. The story is quite sympathetic towards the farmers. It’s the water authorities that come out looking like fools.