BOOK CLUB: The Shearer’s Wife

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The story of The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald begins in 1980. This is when we first meet Rose and Ian Kelly.  Ian is a shearer who travels constantly following the shearing teams from station to station.  Rose has always delighted in travelling along with him, but now that she is pregnant with twins it is becoming harder and harder to tolerate. 

Rose goes into labour and struggles with a complicated birth. She then discovers newborn babies are not so easy to deal with! It becomes apparent that Ian doesn’t want to change his nomadic lifestyle, while Rose wants to set down roots.

Rose is offered a furnished house in the town of Barker. The battle begins as Rose and Ian try to sort out how they will raise their children.

The story flickers back and forth from 1980 to 2020. In 2020, the town of Barker becomes caught up in the world of drug crimes. What caused a much-respected member of the community to become involved in such a thing?  

Zara works for the local journalist and she begins to investigate these crimes. Bit by bit she pieces things together. Not only does she help to solve the crime, but other mysteries too. This is when we see what seemed like two stories begin to merge and become one.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It grabbed me very quickly and wouldn’t let go. The perfect weekend read.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781760876814 / Publisher: Allen & Unwin

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Shearer’s Wife

  1. Fleur McDonald’s, The Shearer’s Wife is just fabulous. Dave Burrows features in several of Fleur’s books and I read The Farmer’s Choice first – a short story that gives an insight into Dave and why he joined the Police Force and didn’t stay with Farming. This short story is powerful and allows for deeper meaning than I would have had by just reading The Shearer’s Wife. I then read Starting From Now which comes before The Shearer’s Wife and loved that and appreciated getting to know Zara Ellison and her Mum as they dealt with the tragedy of her brother’s death, not long after her Father died tragically. Dave Burrows is central to this book too.
    While the stories can stand alone I felt I gained much greater enjoyment and understanding through reading the earlier works.
    The Shearer’s Wife begins in 1980 and for much of the book the timeline runs between 1980 and the present day. The series of apparently unconnected incidents joining 1980 and 2020 does not become evident until quite close to the end. The way they are connected is incredibly well written.
    Rose Kelly makes her home in Barker when she refuses to follow her husband from shearing shed to shearing shed without a proper home after the birth of twins. Barker is also home to The Ellisons after Zara, an investigative journalist returns to the district after her brother dies so she can support her Mother. It is also Detective Dave Burrows home.
    The way everything is woven together is masterful with nothing forced.
    Characterisations are wonderfully drawn, from main characters to incidental characters. The story is fascinating and gripping, suspenseful and caring. Dave Burrows is certain the arrest of a quiet, lovely lady who has full care of her Granddaughter is not as simple as it appears and he and his Senior Constable, Jack Higgins, who is also Zara’s boyfriend put their jobs in jeopardy trying to unravel the situation and help Essie, who has been arrested.
    Wonderfully warm, a deep understanding of Life on the Land and a caring community, filled with people who really care about others, I can’t imagine this novel not satisfying anyone who loves wonderful Australian Rural Fiction. It was fabulous, in my opinion and as good a book as any I have read recently.
    I can’t thank Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin enough for the opportunity to read this excellent book.

  2. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read The Shearer’s Wife.

    Loved this book – couldn’t’ put it down. I’ve read several of Fleur McDonald’s books and this one was every bit as good as her previous books.
    Written with 2 storylines – I was captivated by the character’s and their motivations, but also intrigued to see where both stories were headed. I guessed they would merge into one, but not as beautifully as it was done.
    Another great read thanks to Beauty and Lace.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald. It is set in Barker, South Australia a tiny town.

    The main characters are Detective Dave Burrows and his partner Senior Constable Jack Higgins. The book has a dual line narration, first in 1980 when a pregnant Rose Kelly and her husband Ian arrive in Barker. The 2nd in 2020 when the AFP{Australian Federal Police} arrive in Barker. The AFP arrests a local elderly resident for drug distribution. Dave is warned off the case but it’s his own town he needs to help.

    This is a great Australian novel and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a great read from a great author and I highly recommend it.

  4. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin, I was given the chance to read ‘The Shearer’s Wife’ by Fleur McDonald.

    This story was set in a small farming town, where Detective Dave Burrows is the Officer-in-Charge at the local police station. Fans of Fleur McDonald will be aware of Dave Burrows as he features in many other of Fleur’s books.

    I was excited to see Dave was back – as well as the other locals and eagerly delved in the book. It can be a risk to start reading a book with high expectations but this one did not disappoint in the slightest.

    There is a dual storyline, one set in present time, 2020 and other set in the 1980’s. I loved reading about Rose Kelly, who is the Shearer’s Wife, and how she come about being in this town in the 80’s and why in present time, the Australian Federal Police needed to arrest an elderly lady. There is an air of mystery about the story and it does keep you guessing until the end.

    While it isn’t essential to read the other books with Dave Burrows to read this one it does help having some background knowledge while reading and really, you cannot go wrong with Fleur’s books, they are fantastic reads.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

  5. I am a new reader of Fleur McDonald, thank you Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for introducing me, I’m very keen to read all of Fleur’s back catalogue now – I’m hooked. Not having read any of Fleur’s previous books, I easily polished off this book in one afternoon’s sitting, this book was perfectly fine to read as a stand-alone.

    This was a suspenseful read, I loved the setting of this story, having lived in a small rural community for many years, I could totally relate to the gossip-mongers, and small-town syndrome, and yet at the same time knowing, that when the going gets tough that Barker as a tight knit community would pull together and wrap their arms around Rose and offer much needed love and support.

    I enjoyed the dueling timelines interwoven throughout, the earlier timeline resonated with me and I warmed to Rose’s character and her adaptability and tenacity to just live life and get on with it. Whilst not a fan of Ian (Rose’s husband) I can understand how twin babies didn’t ideally fit with his nomadic shearer’s lifestyle, and understand why Rose choose the stability of Barker as opposed to life with Ian on the dusty road. Not having any knowledge of a job as a shearer, I learnt a lot and understand the appeal of the backbreaking career to be able to live and work anywhere sheep need a haircut.

    I loved the intrigue and twists and turns as the mystery unfolds, and how the two tales melded together, I cannot recommend this story highly enough, it will appeal to all book lovers of rural crime.

  6. The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald is a wonderful read once I had read the first couple of chapters and settled into the story.

    The story starts in 1980 and goes on a timeline to the present day. There are many incidents that are not connected but you just had to keep reading to put the connections together and why they have happened, but you do not find out why until much closer to the end of the book.

    Rose Kelly is married to her shearing husband Ian and they move from shearing shed to shed. Rose falls pregnant and they arrive in Barker. After the birth of twins Rose decides it is to time to settle down in a home and so she stays in Barker. Rose makes many new friends in the Barker but Ian continues to move from shearing shed to shed and returns after 12 months.

    To add a twist to the story the Australian Federal Police arrive in Barker and make an arrest on one of the elderly locals for possession of narcotics. The local Detective Dave Burrows is put on high alert and needs to work out what is happening but will not believe what the AFP are charging the local for. Burrows needs the help of Zara Ellison who has returned to Barker as a journalist to uncover what is really going on after he is taken off the case. Zara is trying to start a new chapter in her life after the tragic death of her brother which was not long after her father’s death. She is in a relationship with Senior Constable Jack Higgins but during this case he thinks Zara is working against him.

    As the unconnected events unfold from Zara’s investigations of journalism, she reveals an unforgotten thread of mystery that has been unheard of for 40 years.

    Fantastic read and would recommend to anyone who enjoys an Australian Rural Fiction.

  7. I enjoyed this latest edition of the Dave Burrows stories, an easy read that wasn’t too heavy.
    I would have loved to have more of Rose and Ian’s story told but I guess that would have given away the punchline.

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