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Simon and Schuster, Jun 23, 1996 - Fiction - 384 pages
18 Reviews
An exploration of marriage and the rich relationship that can exist between father and daughter, The Riders is a gorgeously wrought novel from the award-winning author Tim Winton.

After traveling through Europe for two years, Scully and his wife Jennifer wind up in Ireland, and on a mystical whim of Jennifer's, buy an old farmhouse which stands in the shadow of a castle. While Scully spends weeks alone renovating the old house, Jennifer returns to Australia to liquidate their assets. When Scully arrives at Shannon Airport to pick up Jennifer and their seven-year-old daughter, Billie, it is Billie who emerges—alone. There is no note, no explanation, not so much as a word from Jennifer, and the shock has left Billie speechless. In that instant, Scully's life falls to pieces.

The Riders is a superbly written and a darkly haunting story of a lovesick man in a vain search for a vanished woman. It is a powerfully accurate account of marriage today, of the demons that trouble relationships, of resurrection found in the will to keep going, in the refusal to hold on, to stand still. The Riders is also a moving story about the relationship between a loving man and his tough, bright daughter.

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User Review  - Laine-Cunningham - LibraryThing

This is one of those books that when I was done, I just thought, Wow! I'll be thinking about this one for a very long time. A lot of complexity here with his daughter, the international journey to look for his wife, and his own demons. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it! Read full review

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User Review  - gypsysmom - LibraryThing

Scully is a hard-working Australian who can turn his hand to most physical labour. He is not good looking especially since he got injured in a brawl on a fishing boat and almost lost his eye. For a ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Tim Winton

Tim Winton was born in 1960 in Perth, Western Australia, where he grew up amid a landscape to which he is still inextricably tied: the untouched white beaches, the gray-blue range of hills. He says, "You can never free yourself from the landscape; the minute you turn away, it starts reaching for your imagination again. It's often said that people make God in their own image and likeness. They forget the way that God is camouflaged against the environment. Wherever incarnated, God is also hidden."

All his adult life he was told he was European, but when he traveled to Europe for the first time he understood that he is not, that in reality, he is Australian. "The landscape where my grandparents and my parents and I had grown up had changed us from whatever the people in my family were when they first got to these shores....Whatever they were like then, isn't who we are now. The land has affected us."

"Right from the start I was aware of my own strange geographic isolation. Western Australia is a huge and remote region, a long way from the cultural and publishing centers of Australia, not to mention Europe and the U.S.A. I was twenty years younger than most people publishing books, and this fact, along with where I lived, made me something of an oddity. In my twenties I found myself writing books while helping to raise three children and somehow I survived both experiences without leaving my own region."

The Riders is about Scully, a man dislocated from his native land of Australia. Its genesis came from a period at the end of the 1980s where, granted a scholarship by a private Australian foundation, Winton and his family lived for a long time in Paris, then in the Irmah Midland, and finally on the Greek island of Hydra in the Saronic Gulf. "My wife did not disappear and I didn't undergo the kind of ordeal that I grimly put my character through," he says. He remembers though, leaving the manuscript of another novel on a bus in Rome, and worse, helping his wife suture his son's scalp where a dog had mauled him in Greece. Young Winton was first attracted to writing through the stories from his church. "It's narrative nature appealed to me instantly," he says. "I think that was probably my education in a way." In addition, he read voraciously books from the town library where his mother took him once or twice a week, and from a beach house which had one room wall to ceiling with books.

Winton knew from an early age that he would be a writer. "I guess I decided to be a writer at age ten. Until then, I wanted to be a cop, like my father, but I think I saw what a hard and joyless life that could be, so I went for what I imagined to be a softer option. I was very clear and dogmatic about it," he says. "I can still remember insisting that I would be a writer and arguing about it with a teacher who wouldn't take it seriously. For some reason, I was possessed of this focus." He wrote stories and poems and drew pictures, most likely, he says, to adorn his world. "In a lot of ways I was compensating for the plainness of my culture," he says. "The absence of color in both my church and culture seems like a gift in retrospect, rather than a handicap."

By the age of sixteen, he was submitting stories and poems to magazines. He says, "I had all the walls and half the ceiling papered with rejection slips from magazines in the shed I lived in at the back of my parents place. But sooner or later I got good enough." Which was certainly true -- during his late teens he began to be published in national magazines. By the time Winton was nineteen years old he wrote and published his first novel, An Open Swimmer which won the Australian/Vogel National Literary Award. The money from this helped to begin life as a professional writer. He did attend university for four years, describing himself as a hopeless student, but nonetheless managed to write two novels and numerous stories during that time.

Winton quickly became a sophisticated writer with a great following -- a rarity in Australia. That Eye, The Sky has become one of Winton's most popular books. He has twice won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary award, for Shallows (1984) and Cloudstreet (1991). In addition, much of Winton's work has been adapted for stage and film.

Tim Winton lives with his wife and children in Western Australia, where he grew up, and where he continues to write. He remarks on his profession "It is an odd business -- sitting in a room writing about people who don't exist for people I may never meet. It's wonderful to communicate with strangers this way, from an isolated coast somewhere, talking to people across the continent, across the globe, other towns, other cultures, other languages. I can't pretend to understand it, but it is not such a bad life."


  • An Open Swimmer

  • Shallows

  • Scission

  • That Eye, The Sky

  • Minimum of Two

  • In the Winter Dark

  • Jesse

  • Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo

  • The Bugalugs Bum Thief

  • Cloudstreet

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