Foal’s Bread

G’Day Mob,

At Rocky Springs in November you can be sure of one constant – the jacarandas. Not to matter that the paddocks may be full of laughing, bucking cows in a good season, or lonely and thirsty as they are now, the ring of jacarandas around our house will always burst into glorious colour come November.

125 jaca

The jacarandas have been particularly apt this November as I re-read Gillian Mears’ “Foal’s Bread”, a beautiful, yet aching, Australian story through which the jacarandas are woven as much as the smell and touch of horse.

So Mob, in a break from the usual transmission here are ten of my favourite all time books (in no particular order):

Foal’s Bread – Gillian Mears – 2011 – beware it will bring you to tears and prompt a husband to ask “What are you blubbing about?”

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 1960 – I only discovered this classic several years ago and as one reviewer said “No one ever forgets this book”.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey – 2009 – perhaps the Australian version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and although tragic to the end, there are characters who will make you laugh out loud and quote passages to above mentioned husband, who now thinks you have gone slightly mad.

Irish Lad – J.C Bendrodt – 1966 – a collection of lyrical stories of horses and dogs. Valiant Lady is pure music; get the tissues again for Nine O’Clock.

Tracks – Robyn Davison – 1980 – one woman takes several camels and Diggity the Dog and walks across Australia’s desert heart from Alice Springs to Hamelin Pool on the west coast.

Horse Heaven – Jane Smiley – 2000 – following the journey of six thoroughbreds as they race though a fictional world.

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway – 1952 – from the master, a tale showing great insight to a simple fisherman and great respect for his quarry.

Rhubard – Craig Silvey – 2004 – an unusual take on grammar and punctuation, peppered with real and honest dialogue, and a laugh-out loud ending makes this a joy to read.

The Byerley Turk – Jeremy James – 2005 – historical fiction about one of the founding sires of the modern thoroughbred (yes, horse again), written with wonderful empathy for the equine.

Dirt Music – Tim Winton – 2001 – actually I could have chosen any of Winton’s books. Succinct, perfectly descriptive; feel, smell and touch the Australia of his stories.


But Mob, I have a problem. I have read all these. What do you recommend I read next? And why?

Looking forward to hearing from you!



16 responses to “Foal’s Bread

  1. You may have read them all but there is a few in there that I haven’t read so thank you, I will add them to the ‘to read’ list. Suggestions for further reading: Pieces of Blue, The Washerwoman’s Dream, Trackers, Last Horse Standing (in fact anything by Mike Keenan), Bodger (sorry this one’s out of print but if you can get hold of it, you will need the tissues again).

  2. It has been many years since I read it, but to round out your library, I might suggest “Tesla: Man out of Time” by Margaret Cheney. It is a great biography of Nikola Tesla and his inventions.

    • Funny you should say that Lavinia, because our bookclub not long ago read “Addition” by Toni Jordan where the central character has a fixation with Tesla – otherwise I had never heard of him. Will add your suggestion to my list – thanks.

  3. You would proberly love to read A Good Dog. By Susan Wilson Judies choice and for me try Papillon by Henri Charriere sent to a penal colony of French Guiana in thirteen years he made nine escapes from the notorious Devils Island

    • Wonderful to hear from you two – my favourite nomads – and thrilled that you’re still reading the blog. Both books put on my list and Jen (see below) has a copy of Papillon so looks like that will be first up 🙂

  4. My choice of authors are Edward Rutherfurd, Bernard Cornwell, Bryce Courtney,Tom Clancy & Clive Cussler. I have read most of their books,couldn’t find one I didn’t like & look forward to their new releases.

    • G’Day Tony, thanks for commenting. Bryce Courtney frustrates me to tears. He says in a page what Tim Winton says in five words. However Tom Clancy I enjoy and I think I may have read a Cussler in the past. I look forward to taking a literary journey with the other authors. Thanks again 🙂

  5. Jen Jackson

    A new series by Jackie French that started with ‘A Waltz for Matilda’ – all incredible reads highlighting the importance of women in some of the major events in Australia’s history. Also – I have a copy of ‘Papillon’ if you would like to borrow it, and the sequel ‘Banco’.

  6. Hi Mandy, this is Judi, love reading your blogs but you make me cry sometimes! I also think you should read The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold, very sad but touching. Love Judi

    • Well Judi, you too make me cry with suggestions like The Lovely Bones. It was released a couple of months after my Dad died and I bawl every time I read it. Come visit again soon 🙂

  7. Not a big fan of Dirt Music, much prefer Cloudstreet and only just finished Eyrie which is incredibly bleak but Tim Winton writes so well he makes me weep! Jasper Jones definitely a fave of mine too, and I agree you can’t ever forget To Kill a Hummingbird. So sad Harper Lee never wrote any other books, she had an incredible talent. I do hope you have read The Book Thief, I read his second novel, not much chop…A few other Australian authors I’m fond of are Geoffrey Moorhouse (his Edith series about the league of nations is really interesting, and he has some great earlier writing as well), Peter Carey, and Murray Bail. Eucalyptus is a beautifully written story about love and country and if you like writers who are great with language you will appreciate Bail. Richard Flanagan is also a superb writer – his most recent being The Long Road to The Deep North about the Burma Railway is both incredibly harrowing a story but so complex on so many levels (the title is the name of a famous Japanese Haiku poem from the 1500s, so you see, lots of complexity)
    For overseas writers, I’m a big fan of many Indian writers, Salman Rushdie being a particular favourite. There is a reason Midnight’s Children won the Booker of Bookers, it is an epic story of Indian hope for independence that is ruined by corruption, but he has written many other great books too (Satanic Verses probably his worst book). Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is a delight.
    Oh I could go on all day….

  8. Nikki Gemmel’s early books are great too. Shiver, about a trip to Antarctica, and Cleave, about a road trip in the red centre, are much better writing than her more recent erotica.

    • Wow, thanks Naomi. It seems we have very similar tastes in books so I will look up some of those you have mentioned. The first time I read Cloudstreet I wasn’t a fan, but I read it again a few years ago and now it is lodged on the bookshelf. The Riders, The Turning and Breath are all Winton favourites as well. You’ll be pleased to know I have read and enjoyed both The Book Thief and Eucalyptus!

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