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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living/Tiffany, Carri/Paper/0330421913/S053-D2
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.