Everyman's rules for scientific living
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.
Amid billowing clouds of dust and information, the government 'Better Farming Train' slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing expert advice to those living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science is the key to successful farming, and that productivity is patriotic.
Among the swaying cars full of cows, pigs and wheat, an unlikely love affair 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 marry and settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that a scientific approach to cultivation can transform the land.
But after seasons of failing crops, and with the threat of a new World War looming, Robert and Jean are forced to confront each other, the community they have inadvertently destroyed, and the impact of their actions on an ancient and fragile landscape.
Shot through with humour and a quiet wisdom, this haunting first novel vividly captures the hope and the disappointment of the era when it was possible to believe in the perfectibility of both nature and humankind.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
It was a pure fluke that I happened across this book. Carrie Tiffany has won the inaugural Stella prize in Australia for her second book, Mateship with Birds. I checked my library to see if they had that book which I thought sounded interesting. They didn't but they did have this book and when I read the description I put a hold on the book. As it happens this is a book that fits into my occupation as a chemist in the Canadian Grain Commission so perfectly that I could hardly wait to recommend it to my friends. Jean Finnegan is a domestic science graduate who works as a textile expert on the Better Farming Train that toured Australia during the 1930s to bring information to farming families about how to improve their farms and their lives. Also aboard the train is Robert Pettergee, a soil scientist, who can tell by tasting a sample of soil where it comes from. Robert is the author of a short article called "Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living" and he believes science can solve any problem. After a passionate encounter Robert and Jean quickly decide to take up wheat farming in the Mallee district. Robert believes with the application of superphosphate and other additives the poor sandy soil of the Mallee can grow wheat profitably. Jean will be his assistant and in particular she will bake 10 test loaves every year from the wheat harvest. Tiffany is an agricultural journalist so she knows the challenges that faced (and still face) farmers. But she also portrays human relations and emotions with understanding. I found the yearly reports of Jean's test loaves wrenching, more for what they didn't say than for what they did. I think anyone with a connection to farming will identify with this novel and maybe people who haven't experienced farming will learn something about the life.
Review: Everyman's Rules for Scientific LivingUser Review - Goodreads
I picked this out at a charity shop on a whim; normally I wouldn't have read it and maybe I should read the blurb closer before I read things in the future. This book was fairly mediocre -- it follows ...
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