- first published in 1994
- audio book published in 2008 at Audible
Fred Scully waits at the arrival gate of an international airport, anxious to see his wife and seven-year-old daughter. After two years in Europe they are finally settling down.
He sees a new life before them, a stable outlook, a cottage in the Irish countryside that he's renovated by hand.
He's waited, sweated on this reunion. He does not like to be alone - he's that kind of man. The flight lands, the glass doors hiss open, and Scully's life begins to go down in flames.
This may not have been the best book to read as an audio book, because there were many passages that, had it been a paper publication, I would have re-read.
Stanley McGeagh's Irish accent, as the voice of an Australian character, took a bit of getting used to.
After Scully's wife fails to turn up on the flight, and Billie gets off the flight alone, the book is mainly about trying to locate Jennifer and to work out why she has seemingly deserted him. Billie is withdrawn and won't utter a word about where her mother is.
In the manner of the Shiralee, Scully drags his daughter through Europe looking for Jennifer, returning to places that as a family they have visited before. Some former friends rather mysteriously won't talk to him.
Circumstances dictated that we listened to THE RIDERS over a long period of time, nearly two months in fact, probably missing the significance of some events, and certainly not understanding some references. For example, it was hard to work out where the title came from. There was a passage at the very beginning about riders that I would have liked to check although I did get a little help from Wikipedia.
- The novel deals with ideas of architecture, Australia, Europe, masculinity and trust. It also asks the question of self-identity, and how well you can ever truly know someone else.
The book draws on the European mythology of the Wild Hunt, hence "The Riders".
So I've come away a bit disappointed by this book, but it is probably related to the fact that we "read" it as an audio book over far too long a passage of time.
It was after all a nominee for the Man Booker Prize in 1995.
My rating: 4.2