Book review: Hope Farm

Posted on January 31, 2017 by Sarah Price

Hope Farm is the second novel from Melbourne based author Peggy Frew.  Set in the winter of 1985, on a bleak, yet beautiful rural Victorian landscape, Hope Farm  provides a detailed look at mothers, daughters and the  inevitable  compromises that both have to  make. We follow the journey of 13 year old Silver, and her mother Ishtar, who relocate to a ramshackle, weatherboard house in rural Victoria after Ishtar  falls for the charismatic Miller.  Aptly named Hope Farm, the move represents a new start for mother and daughter, a chance to find stability and set down roots.

Here, Silver finds both friendship and foes. After being thrust into a confounding, gritty and unrelenting adult world, her innocence and indeed the very world around her slowly starts to crumble.

Despite the apparent bleakness of both the  landscape and life that the novel represents, the narrative is underscored with a richness and beauty and overall a prevailing sense of hope. And yet, there  remains a delicate sense  of tension as we follow Silver’s journey into adulthood. This is especially pronounced as we experience adult Silver’s retrospective towards her childhood and the inevitable life lessons that such a journey brings.

Frew shines a brutally stark light on the pain and pitfalls of parenting. In exploring the love between parent and child and what transpires when the lines of that relationship are crossed and blurred, we discover the raw tenderness of loving but not having that love returned.

With a carefully crafted and deftly woven narrative, Frew brings the reader on a journey across time, across landscapes and across the great and often shaky divide between childhood and adulthood. Thrilling and beguiling, it is a smashingly good read.

Posted in Book review, Reading