Foal’s bread – a book review

Title: Foal’s bread

Author: Gillian Meares

Katherine’s pick

This is Gillian Meare’s first novel in sixteen years and I am very glad to see the work of such a fine writer resurface.  The Foal’s Bread is a family saga written in a style which is lush and  lyrical.  The story is set in rural NSW during the time between World war 1 and World War 2 and tells the story of the Nancarrow family.  On the surface this is a linear narrative about Noah and Roley Nancarrow,  a young couple who marry and set out to pursue their  dream of winning the High Jump events at the Country Horse Show Circuit which was a popular form of country entertainment at this time,  and thus make their fortunes.

Both Roley and Noah are talented and courageous horseriders specialising in the high jump event, which is a very skilled and dangerous.  The couple’s connection to their horses,   their family and their community resonates vibrantly throughout the novel.  Noah’s dark secret haunts her and effects her relationship with her family and ultimately results in the climatic and heroic act that is the shattering finale to this novel.  This story is both tragic and uplifting at the same time and is a truly remarkable portrayal   of human frailty and strength..

The characters in this novel are riveting and recognisable as real people with conflicting emotions such as love, jealousy, loss, and ultimately triumph over life’s tribulations. The characters and events in this novel will linger in your mind long after you close this book.

Highly recommended and Parramatta City Library has copies available for loan.