Competition published on June 10, 2016.
It is the winter of 1985. Hope Farm sticks out of the ragged landscape like a decaying tooth, its weatherboard walls sagging into the undergrowth. Silver’s mother, Ishtar, has fallen for the charismatic Miller, and the three of them have moved to the rural hippie commune to make a new start.
At Hope, Silver ﬁnds unexpected friendship and, at last, a place to call home. But it is also here that, at just thirteen, she is thrust into an unrelenting adult world — and the walls begin to come tumbling down, with deadly consequences.
Hope Farm is a devastatingly beautiful story about the broken bonds of childhood, and the enduring cost of holding back the truth.
‘They were inescapable, the tensions of the adult world — the fraught and febrile aura that surrounded Ishtar and those in her orbit, that whined and creaked like a wire pulled too tight.’
**We have a reading group set (x 8 copies) of Hope Farm to give away – scroll down for your chance to win!**
Reviewer Maddy Broome said:
Disappointment, loneliness, unrealised dreams – not necessarily the ingredients for an absorbing novel, but in Hope Farm, Peggy Frew has managed it. The story is mainly told from the point of view of thirteen year old Silver, who has moved to the commune at Hope Farm with her mother, Ishtar. There are also excerpts from Ishtar’s ‘journal’ to give a different view of the events.
Ishtar is the name she adopts when she leaves the mother and baby home with the baby she has insisted on keeping and moves into an ashram. From here on, her life is a series of failed relationships in communes and ashrams across Australia. By the time they arrive at Hope Farm, her daughter Silver has begun to realise the hopelessness of it all.
Because of their nomadic life style, Silver has never been able to make friends and is lonely and unhappy. This changes while she is at Hope Farm when she meets another lonely misfit, Ian, and they make a strong but secret friendship. There is also Dan, in love with her mother, but able to give Silver some of the care and affection she desperately craves. However, there is also Miller, the man her mother is living with and with whom all the problems seem to lie.
Peggy Frew has given an authentic voice to Silver, still in many ways a needy child but on the cusp of understanding the adult world and its problems. Like many teenagers, she is resentful of not being consulted about decisions affecting her life, but with her background and her mother, it is perhaps more understandable.
The author also gives us a seemingly authentic view of the hippy/commune scene in Australia in the 1980s – unrealistic dreams and hopes; failed attempts at communal living; lack of commitment in friendships and relationships and the effect all of this has on the children. I felt really worried about 5 year old Jindi, one of the other Hope Farm children.
This novel was shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize, a major Australian literary award that celebrates women’s writing. It has also been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literature prize. It is thoroughly deserving of this recognition and would make an excellent choice for a reading group.
About the author
Peggy Frew’s debut novel, House of Sticks, won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Her story ‘Home Visit’ won The Age short story competition. She has been published in New Australian Stories 2, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, and Meanjin. Peggy is also a member of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting.
We have a reading group set (x 8 copies) of Hope Farm by Peggy Frew to give away – for your chance to win, simply fill in the form below:
The Competition is closed.
Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, published on 9 June, 2016 by Scribe, in paperback at £12.99
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