‘They were inescapable, the tensions of the adult world – the fraught and febrile aura that surrounded Ishtar and those in her orbit, that whined and creaked like a wire pulled too tight.’
It is the winter of 1985. Hope Farm sticks out of the ragged landscape like a decaying tooth, its weatherboard walls sagging into the undergrowth. Silver's mother, Ishtar, has fallen for the charismatic Miller, and the three of them have moved to the rural hippie commune to make a new start.
At Hope, Silver finds unexpected friendship and, at last, a place to call home. But it is also here that, at just thirteen, she is thrust into an unrelenting adult world – and the walls begin to come tumbling down, with deadly consequences.
Hope Farm is a devastatingly beautiful story about the broken bonds of childhood, and the enduring cost of holding back the truth.
‘Peggy Frew is an amazing writer and Hope Farm is a great novel that captures the pleasures and difficulties of being both a parent and of being a child. The complex story of Silver and Ishtar and their fraught relationship is beautifully written, acutely observed and, best of all, completely absorbing. I could almost feel the crisp Gippsland mornings, hear the birds warbling and smell the stale dope smoke. Hope Farm is elegant, tender and very wise.’
Chris Womersley, award-winning author of Cairo and Bereft
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‘[E]legiac, storied … aligns itself with other novels in which children — out of rashness, anger or even ignorance — act out to terrible consequences. As with Briony in Ian McEwan’s Atonement or Leo in L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between, these decisions are usually compounded by circumstance … Frew does not want to pass judgment though. She understands that the sadness of childhood is to grow up in circumstances over which you have little or no control.’
Jessica Au, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Peggy Frew’s novel, Hope Farm, tells an original tale, drawing into the body of Australian literary fiction, a world between the cracks. Peggy’s voice is contemporary, her observations sharp and sensitive. Hope Farm describes the cycle of loss and damage when there are no boundaries to protect us.’
Sofie Laguna, author of The Eye of the Sheep, 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award winner
‘Frew’s deceptively slow-burn tale of a teenage girl — adrift, bewildered, seeking solidity — moves inexorably to its climax, laying bare a certain darkness at the heart of the alternative lifestyle. But it's the tale of a survivor, too.’
Luke Davies, award-winning author of Candy
‘At this point it could be too early to call it, but I’m thinking this could end up on my top 10 books of the year list … Beautifully written, difficult to put down, hard not to feel the ache.’
‘In its exploration of maternal, sexual, unrequited and platonic relationships, Hope Farm is a finely calibrated study of love, loss and belonging.’
Thuy On, Sunday Age
‘[An] assured exploration of that awkward moment between childhood and the teenage years [as well as a] devastating critique of the treatment of unwed mothers in the ’70s.’
Margot Lloyd, Adelaide Advertiser
‘Frew is a gifted writer, evidenced here by finely balanced observations and atmospheric description … Silver is poised at the beginning of adult understanding and Frew handles the challenge with deftness. Silver’s insight and compassion are juxtaposed with naivety and the idealistic force of her first crushes.’
Ed Wright, Weekend Australian
‘Reading [Hope Farm] made me feel as though I’d lived it. So darn clever.’
‘Frew’s second novel is an Australian cousin of T.C. Boyle’s Drop City, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia, and other novels about the failures of communal living, with additional connections to Esther Freud’s Hideous Kinky and Ian McEwan's Atonement.’