The Party Line

Author(s): Sue Orr

NZ - Fiction

The Baxters do not know their place. On the first of June every year sharemilkers load their trucks with their families, pets and possessions and crawl along the highways towards new farms, new lives. They're inching towards that ultimate dream -- buying their own land. Fenward's always been lucky with its sharemilkers; grateful, grafting folk who understand what's expected of them. Until now, when grief-stricken Ian Baxter and his precocious daughter Gabrielle arrive. Nickie Walker is enchanted by the glamour and worldliness of Gabrielle. Nickie's mother, however, finds herself in the crossfire of a moral battle too terrifying to confront. Each has a story to share. This is a coming-of-age story for two young girls who hold a mirror up to the place and people they love. It's a coming-of-age story, too, for a community forced to stare back at the image of a toxic soul. The question is: who will blink first?

On the first of June every year (Gypsy Day), many sharemilkers move to new farms to start afresh.  The Party Line explores the impact such moves have on communities and families.  Nickie Walker, young daughter of a farming family, and the new arrival Gabrielle upset the locals with their spin on the world. A thoughtful and accurate portrayal of rural New Zealand in the seventies. Not to be missed. - Marie

Having lived in New Zealand and experienced using a party line (3 long - 3 short) I was intrigued enough to want to read this and I was very pleased I did. This is the author's first novel and is set in Paeroa in the 1970s. It revolves around two young girls, one, Nickie, the daughter of a dairy farmer and the other, Gabrielle, the daughter of a widower sharemilker. Gabrielle and her father are new to the area and a bit different, which doesn't go down too well with the locals. Nickie befriends Gabrielle and this friendship leads them to adventures that leads them to question their community. This is a great coming-of-age novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to readers. - Peter


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Sue Orr is the author of two short story collections. Etiquette for a Dinner Party (2008) won the Lilian Ida Smith Award and From Under the Overcoat (2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards and won the People's Choice Award. Her fiction has been published in New Zealand and international anthologies and translated into Spanish. In 2011 she was the Sargeson Buddle Findlay Fellow. She has taught creative writing at Manukau Institute of Technology and Massey University and is completing a PhD in Creative Writing at Victoria University, Wellington. She lives in Auckland with her family.

General Fields

  • : 9781775537557
  • : Random House New Zealand
  • : Vintage New Zealand
  • : August 2015
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Sue Orr
  • : Paperback
  • : very good
  • : 352