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Foal's Bread

Gillian Mears    
Format: Paperback - C format
Pages: 376
AUD $32.99inc. GST
Foal's Bread


The long-awaited new novel from the award-winning author of The Grass Sister tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and the high-jumping horse circuit prior to the Second World War. A love story of impossible beauty and sadness, it is also a chronicle of dreams 'turned inside out', and miracles that never last, framed against a world both tender and unspeakably hard.


The sound of horses' hooves turns hollow on the farms west of Wirri. If a man can still ride, if he hasn't totally lost the use of his legs, if he hasn't died to the part of his heart that understands such things, then he should go for a gallop. At the very least he should stand at the road by the river imagining that he's pushing a horse up the steep hill that leads to the house on the farm once known as One Tree.

Set in hardscrabble farming country and around the country show high-jumping circuit that prevailed in rural New South Wales prior to the Second World War, Foal's Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land.

It is a love story of impossible beauty and sadness, a chronicle of dreams 'turned inside out', and miracles that never last, framed against a world both tender and unspeakably hard. Written in luminous prose and with an aching affinity for the landscape the book describes, Foal's Bread is the work of a born writer at the height of her considerable powers. It is a stunning work of remarkable originality and power, one that confirms Gillian Mears' reputation as one of our most exciting and acclaimed writers.


Winner, 2012 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction

Shortlisted, 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards - Christina Stead Prize

Shortlisted, Indie Awards 2012, Fiction category

WC Winner, 2012 ALS Gold Medal

Shortlisted, 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award

Shortlisted, 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award

Shortlisted, 2012 Nita B. Kibble Award WC

Shortlisted, 2012 ABIA (Australian Book Industry Awards) Book of the Year 2012

Winner, 60th Annual Book Design Awards 2012, Best Designed Literary Fiction

Shortlisted, 2012 WA Premier's Book Award

Winner, 2012 The Age Book of the Year Award Fiction

Winner, 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction

Winner, 2012 Colin Roderick Award

Gillian Mears grew up in the northern New South Wales towns of Grafton and Lismore. Acclaim came early, with her short-story collections and novels winning major prizes. Her books include Ride a Cock Horse, Fineflour, The Mint Lawn, The Grass Sister and A Map of the Gardens. More recently she has been living in the Adelaide Hills, where she wrote Foal's Bread.

ISBN: 9781742376295
Australian Pub.: November 2011
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Subject: Literary fiction
Edition Number:

Listen to Gillian Mears discussing her work on ABC Radio National's The Book Show

Join the Foal's Bread 'read-along' at the Book Nerd Club

Read Susan Johnson's profile of Gillian Mears

Gillian Mears answers Ten Terrifying Questions at the Booktopia blog

'you are unlikely to read a more courageous novel this year' - read the Guardian review

'one [of] the most spirited and enthralling Australian novels published in years.' - read the rest of this review at The Conversation

'The more I think about this book, and its hard not to think about it, the more I am impressed with this timeless classic of an Australian novel.' - read the rest of this review

Reader reviews

'This is a remarkable story of rural Australia between the wars - times were tough and the people of this landscape, tougher. Mears writes this bitter sweet love story with panache and colour, tears and heartache, joy and disappointment. As readers we mount the horses with Noh, Rol and Lainey and feel the air crackle with electricity  as we fly over the impossibly high jumps  We sample Aunty Ral's cakes and lollies and fall in  love with  baby George. We break our hearts and cry silent tears for this family caught up in sins of the past and present.  A beautiful, moving yet tragic story you will want to wrap in your arms and heart and take with you forever.' - Carol Seeley

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