- Author: S. Orr
- Title: The Hands
- Published: 2015
- Genre: novel (pastoral)
- Trivia: November Clean Up Challenge
- Trivia: (NSW) #AusReadingMonth @Brona’s Books
- Trivia: List Reading Challenges 2017
What do we know about Stephen Orr?
- Stephen Orr studied ecology at university before starting to write fiction.
- He has taught Biology, Agriculture, and English.
- His most recent novel, The Hands (2015),
- describes a farming family trying to scratch a living from
- drought affected grazing country.
- Orr is a skilled analyst of small towns…vanishing part of Australian life.
- Setting: Australian cattle station
- 7 characters – 3 generations
- Structure: 3 parts
- Timeline: 3 years
- Grandfather: Murray, holder of the deed…no intention of selling his property
- Father: Trevor Wilkie, working cattle station… future he no longer believes in.
- Sons: Harry and Aiden, struggling to deal with their father.
- Can these characters arise from a bad situation
- …to find the silver lining in the cloud that is death, drought, debt ?
- The first thing I noticed on the cover is ‘An Australian Pastoral’.
- I don’t know what a ‘pastoral’ really means in literature.
- In this book a pastoral is simply and escape…place of retreat.
- Physical retreat (bush) for a simple way of life.
- Emotional retreat with 3 generations of men who have difficulty
- …communicating their feelings.
- Retreat: a place where on can explore the past (Murray the grandfather)
- …an imagine an alternative future (Trevor and his sons)
- This is a redemptive story of men whose failures,
- accidental or intended, seem insurmountable
- ….but are resolved.
- Grandfather, son and grandsons grieve for the
- the loss of life (a grandfather, wife, mother)
- the loss of the rural working life
- the loss of the land.
- …and the difficulties of putting a self back together.
- This was a good book…but not great.
- It did not sweep me off my feet.
- Perhaps other readers have a different reaction to this book.
- It was shortlisted for Miles Franklin 2016
- …so Stephen Orr must be doing something right!