Following the disappearance of her mother when she was just a young child, Melody ‘Drift’ Wood has been raised by her father. He still grieves for his lost wife and often loses himself in a bottle. Drift has grown up to work alongside her father, as an itinerant cattle drover along the beautiful coastline of remote Western Australia. It’s a tough life, and as she blows out the candles on her twenty-first birthday cake, she is desperately yearning for change.
But the world Drift lives in can be ugly and brutal. She suffers a life-changing event – a horrific sexual assault. She is broken and no longer trusts men. Afterwards, Drift meets a handsome young stockman, but he is not all that he seems and she is drawn into a baffling world of lies and mysteries, centring on a lushly beautiful property called The Planet, run by a wealthy American woman. When Drift’s father is hospitalised following a tragic accident and the young man she loves disappears, Drift has to find the courage to make her own way in the world.
One of the many wonderful layers of this book is the relationship Drift has with a number of well-developed secondary characters. She has been nurtured and taught by two wise women – Wilma, a gentle travelling librarian and straight-talking Charlie, the legendary mobile saddler. It’s clear to see that Drift has grown up to become a confident, idealistic young woman because of them.
Drawing upon the deep well of women’s wisdom taught her by Charlie and Wilma, Drift has to overcome heartbreak, betrayal, loneliness and pain in order to forge her path, own her truth, and create the kind of world that she wants to live in.
White Horses has a lot of heart. It is at times a difficult story, with a strong, authentic and absolutely inspiring heroine. It is timely, a novel that springs from the #metoo movement, a hashtag used by Rachael Treasure at the start of the book.
Treasure clearly has a deep connection to the land, something she writes about on her website. This connection springs from the page and the landscape, the property and the animals in White Horses are vivid and richly drawn.
This isn’t classic Rachael Treasure. This is even better. Treasure has added depth to her storytelling and her writing is more multilayered. Her previous books have been fabulous and well-received and she could have coasted on that for a career. Instead, she’s dug deeper and has produced a polished and both heart-wrenching and hopeful novel that will thrill old fans and garner many new ones.
About the author:
Rachael Treasure lives in Southern Tasmania with her two teenage children and partner, Daniel. Together they are restoring farming landscapes using regenerative agricultural methods. Her first novel, Jillaroo, blazed a trail in the Australian publishing industry for other rural women writers and is now considered an iconic work of contemporary Australian fiction.
Rachael is a rural business graduate of Sydney University’s Orange Agricultural College and has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and journalism from Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. She has worked as a journalist for Rural Press and ABC Rural Radio. Her dream is to never grow up and to one day live in a shearing shed. White Horses is her seventh novel.