New Release Book Review: The Year of the Farmer by Rosalie Ham

The Year of the Farmer…

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

Rosalie Ham has returned in a blaze of glory with her latest novel, The Year of the Farmer. It’s a cracking read, full of dark satire and quick wit, peopled with a cast of memorable characters.

‘We, the riparians, and your other clients, the farmers, want you to ask old Glenys Gravedigger Dingle how we are meant to do two shits instead of one without anything to shit. How much of the area’s production will vanish because of water buybacks? How will I run my store when most of my customers have no money? When can we all expect to die from fatigue and starvation, and how much money will all you water traders make out of our water?’

Rich in characterisation, Rosalie has created the ultimate villain in Mandy Bishop. I tried to feel sorry for Mandy, I really did, but she was just too loathsome. Some people are just beyond redemption and get exactly what they deserve – as is the case with Mandy. But goodness, what an outrageous woman. I couldn’t believe the nerve of her with half the stuff she did. Completely ruthless and entirely without guile. I disliked her for many things but it was her deliberate disregard for the wellbeing of her elderly father-in-law that put the final nail in her coffin for me. I can’t stand people who mistreat the elderly. In the end, she was one of those people who’d shoot her own foot off just to make her point. In other words, an idiot. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the town close ranks against Mandy, who was proving herself just as much of a scourge on the environment as the drought.

There’s a message peeking out through all of the satire, about farming and the strain hard times can bring to entire communities. I’d never given much thought to water as a resource for corruption but Rosalie crafted a scenario that was entirely credible and rather alarming to contemplate. She spotlights the challenges of modern farming, leaving no part unexamined. It’s not an easy life, a daily fight for survival that only the fittest and most tenacious can survive. There was much to muse on within the pages of this novel.

The Year of the Farmer is a highly entertaining novel, purely Australian and full snark and heart in equal measure. Fans of Rosalie’s previous novels will revel in this latest offering.


Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Year of the Farmer for review.

About the Author:

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 was born and raised in Jerilderie, New South Wales, where her family still farm, and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a master of arts in creative writing and teaches literature.

The Year of the Farmer
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released on 25th September 2018

12 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Year of the Farmer by Rosalie Ham

  1. The timing of this release was perfection, I hope the entire marketing department at Pan Macmillan got a bonus cheque (and donated it to the farmers, of course). I haven’t picked this one up yet, but my mother keeps asking me when I’m going to read it – and given that the antagonist is both a “bad woman” AND a villain that gets her downfall, it sounds like it’s going to be better for me than The Dressmaker 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it might be coincidental timing as Rosalie’s novels are rather infrequent, but either way, it did work out well for them. I enjoyed The Dressmaker, and while this is similar in setting and humour elements, it differs in other ways. You may well like it more!

      Liked by 1 person

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