Combined Reviews: Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by

everyman.jpg Reviews of Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany.

[This novel has been longlisted for the 2006 Miles Franklin award, longlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Best First Book Award for the South East Asia and South Pacific region of the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.]

Description: "It is 1934, the Great War is long over and the next is yet to come. It is a brief time of optimism and advancement.

"Billowing dust and information, the government 'Better Farming Train' slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing city experts and advice to those already living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science holds the answers and that productivity is patriotic.

"Amongst the swaying cars full of cows, pigs and wheat, an unlikely seduction occurs between Robert Pettergree, a man with an unusual taste for soil, and Jean Finnegan, a talented young seamstress with a hunger for knowledge. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism they settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that science can transform the land.

"With failing crops and the threat of a new World War looming, Robert and Jean are forced to confront each other, the community they have destroyed, and the impact of progress on an ancient and fragile landscape.

"Erotically charged, and shot through with humour and a quiet wisdom, this haunting first novel evokes the Australian landscape in all its stark beauty and vividly captures the hope and disappointment of an era."

In "The Age", Judith Armstrong initially thinks the book may have something to hide: "You can't see a title such as this without suspecting its author of playing games. What lies behind the joke? Carrie Tiffany, who regards her own name as 'ridiculously flaky', is a first-time novelist who has already received some excellent publicity." But she soon comes to realise that the book is far more than just a funny title, and that it is "a
highly accomplished, adroit and funny-serious novel, which, unlike a Mallee farm, works almost perfectly."

The general consenus of opinion amongst reviewers of this novel is that it is an impressive debut. At AussieReviews, Sally Murphy found that "Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living is a powerfully haunting novel. Set in the period between the two worlds, in a community struggling through the depression and drought, this is a gripping first novel from a new Australian talent."

A claim that was echoed by Publisher's Weekly in the US, which called it a "rich and knowing debut novel." And which then went on to state: "Acclaimed Australian story writer Tiffany writes in a deceptively simple style, notable for its craft and heartbreaking clarity; that as well as her unusual yet utterly believable period
characters make for a stunning debut."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 30, 2006 3:50 PM.

2006 ABC Fiction Award was the previous entry in this blog.

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