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The Riders

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  3,572 ratings  ·  280 reviews
Anticipating the arrival of his wife and child in Ireland, Fred Scully is devastated when his little girl appears alone at the airport. She carries no note, and offers no explanation for her mother's absence. As father and daughter frantically search Europe for the woman who has mysteriously abandoned them, Tim Winton paints a searing portrait of how one love destroys a ma ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published by Picador (first published 1994)
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Kim

It’s December 1987. Fred Scully – known simply as Scully – is renovating the dilapidated cottage in rural Ireland he and his wife Jennifer have bought on a whim at what was supposed to be the end of two years of living in Europe. Jennifer and their seven-year-old daughter Billie have returned to Australia to sell the family home so that the family can settle permanently in Ireland. Ten days before Christmas, Scully goes to the airport to collect Jennifer and Billie, but Billie arrives alone, too
...more
Jay
I first read The Riders in 1996, shortly after its publication. Tim Winton had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and I was anxious to try a new author. At the time, when I finished the book, I was disappointed in the story, frustrated by the ending and found Schully’s search for his wife tedious. The writing left me cold. I shelved the volume and forgot about Winton.

At least I thought I had forgotten about him. Actually, the story and Winton’s writing stayed not on the shelf but in the back
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Susan
: I’ve liked what I’ve read of Winton (Cloudstreet and Dirt Music) and this one is no exception. The main character, Scully, is from Freemantle in Western Australia. He’s a big, unattractive guy, a laborer whose skills are currently put to use renovating an old Irish farmhouse which had taken his wife’s fancy on a visit to Ireland. His wife, Jennifer, who’s pregnant with their second child, is in Australia with their 7 year-old daughter, Billie, typing loose ends for their planned move to Irelan ...more
Moses Kilolo
It's hard to describe a book that is in itself an epitome of description. Raw and beautiful, each sentence deserves to be read, reread and internalized.

But that may not really be the case with The Riders. You feel you just want to read the next sentence, and the next. Before you know it you are drawn into its world and Scully's journey through Europe, his little daughter tagging at hand, through the extremes of anticipation, search and heartbreak.

Scully is man that has been preparing a house fo
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I will remember this book for its prose. Tim Winton's writing is at times astoundingly gorgeous. I enjoyed some of the characters, and the story in its pieces was worth reading. As a whole, however, the plot suffers from a lack of polish and planning. The entire book is ONE...BIG...TEASE!!!

The Riders is at times dolorous, at times comic, and sometimes both simultaneously. The scene in the Amsterdam sex toy shop made me laugh so hard I had to put the book aside."People began to scramble across a
...more
Chris
I hated this book so much that I threw it across the room immediately after reading the last sentence, and then picked it up and shoved it deep into the garbage, covered in filth.

Fred it such an awful, unlikeable loser, I hated him the entire book and secretly wished someone would do him in at every turn. I found the story overly drawn out and the plot was ham-fisted and awful.

There is nothing redeeming about this book and I warn everyone who values the short time they have on this earth to avo
...more
Mollie
I loved it while I was reading it, HATED it when I finished it, but now with a bit of perspective, I think I'd recommend it. It made me want to move to Ireland, abandon my career, and buy a little house in the countryside to fix up. I mean, it really made me want to do these things. I thought about it quite seriously.
Bibliophile
Tim Winton is an excellent writer, and The Riders contains some wonderful prose. It's a hard book to rate, because on the one hand it's riveting, and on the other hand it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Everything about this book was unsettling.

It begins with Scully, an Australian with the face of "an axe-murderer, a sniffer of bicycle seats", fixing up a cottage in the sticks in southern Ireland, waiting for his wife Jennifer and their 7-year old daughter Billie to join him. The cottage was
...more
Nancy Oakes
The Riders were "unseen, patient, dogged faithful in all weathers and all worlds, waiting for something promised, something that was plainly their due..."

When Fred Scully started out his new life in Ireland he was a rider. Scully, his wife Jennifer and their daughter Billie, all from Australia, traveled throughout Europe, where he would take on the grunt jobs to keep them alive while Jennifer explored herself, painting, writing, going to parties with her artsy friends. In one of their travels,
...more
Elisabeth
Jul 24, 2009 Elisabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elisabeth by: CLBB
I have to agree with most others here and say that this was a) really disturbing, and b)executed beautifully. The storyline wasn't exactly uplifting (wife/mother inexplicably abandons her husband and daughter), but there were glimmers of light in the unconditional devotion between father and daughter, especially in the moments where the story is told from Billie's point of view and she seems to see something in Scully that others don't see...seems to understand the very essence of his being, and ...more
Kathy
Although this story captivated me and drew me along with the story, I did not like it. When I finished it I was left feeling frustrated and angry with the characters. It is said to be a book about the love of a father for his child and all I saw was a man willing to leave his child in the most dangerous of places to search for his wife who had obviously left him. His total obsession with this women who has most definatley done the dirty on him was tiring to say the least.
A few memorable moments
...more
Jeannette Katzir
The Riders, by Tim Winton
I gave this book 2 stars because Mr Winton is a skillful writer, BUT the story left me completely unsatisfied.
The premise is about a man, who considers himself Quasimoto-ish, and who is refurbishing a house in Ireland for his beloved wife and daughter.
When he arrives at the airport only the daughter arrives. Where is his wife? What has happened to her? We don't know, he doesn't know, and for reasons not ever explained, the daughter won't tell.
The balance of the book dron
...more
Maggie
This is a tremendously well written story of a “perfect” life which suddenly evaporates. Scully is the father of Billie, a precocious seven year old, and husband of Jennifer. Scully is repairing and renovating an Irish cottage which they saw while on vacation and Jennifer fell in love with. Scully has left his beloved Australia and is working on the house while Jennifer and Billie are selling their house in Australia. The first half of the book is told from Scully’s POV, and he tells us that he ...more
Rebecca
It's tempting to be infuriated by the lack of resolution around Jennifer's actions and motivations, but I think that's to miss the point of the book. The point is, Jennifer is not the point! It doesn't matter what she has done or why. The story is about the journey through obsession (and finally, thankfully, out of it) and what that does to you and the loved ones you drag along the way with you. Adding the backstory of Jennifer's disappearance into the story wouldn't have added any depth to that ...more
Peter
when i was 12 i moved to bendigo; when tim winton was 12 he moved to albany in western australia. i think those years highly influence the rest of your life...i became a dummy, and tim winton became a writer. i visited the wa south coast four years ago, already a winton fan, but not knowing he hailed from there. albany reflects the provincial, harsh, devastatingly masculine language of winton. he drags his sentences from the massive boulders, from the depths of the sounds, from the sweat and the ...more
jen
This was the first book I've read by Tim Winton. He's a good storyteller, and I would read something else by him in the future -- but not about this subject. I am easily bored and annoyed by fiction about marriages breaking up, relationships, etc. I would have stopped reading, but I thought maybe there would be something else going on later in the story beyond the unsatisfied wife leaving and the husband/father falling apart. Life is too short and there are way too many other interesting and tho ...more
Emily
Scully is a driven man searching for his wife. He meets many characters along the way but most of them have nothing to do with the story and do not add to our understanding of Scully. Pages and pages and pages establish Scully in the house he is renovating in Europe where he bonds with the local postman... who disappears from the rest of the story. The prose is pretty but the reading experience was unsatisfying. The book had this reader wondering 'what the hell?'
Nancy
Let's make it simple. I did not like this book and I would not recommend it to anyone. It is story about obsession, an obsession that made no sense. None of the members of my book group liked it at all. It does have wonderful language in some parts, but as a reader I got tired of the main character's inability to deal with life. His obsession took the readers all over the world with no plan that made sense. In the process he dragged his child through places where she had no comfort from him. She ...more
LindaW
A story about an Australian, Scully, a heartbroken man obsessed with finding his wife who has left him and their 7 year old daughter and disappeared. He hunts for her in Greece, Italy, France and Holland. A cathartic search through the old haunts where they had lived and travelled in the past few years. She had wanted to settle down in Ireland, so they bought a small house there. He stayed to restore it, while she and Billie returned home to Australia to sell their house and belongings before r ...more
Mersini
I'm torn between loving and hating this book.

On the one hand, it's beautiful and heartbreaking. After dedicating himself to fixing up a house in Ireland that he and his wife bought, Scully is left stranded when his wife does not arrive at the airport on the allotted date. With his daughter in tow, Scully embarks on a European adventure, visiting all the place that he and his wife lived, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will know what happened to her. Along the way, Scully deteriorates. He
...more
Mag
A comparison comes to mind with Henry James- and his “portrait”of “old” Europe: sophisticated, elegant, blasé and rotten under its delicate skin, juxtaposed Australia- new, uncomplicated, unspoiled and sincere.
Fred Scully is an optimistic, “uncomplicated young Australian”, terribly in love with his much more pretentious wife and with his intelligent seven year old daughter. He is a man who likes to work with his hands with no hang-ups about any type of employment as long as it provides money for
...more
Sunflower
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blair Conrad
I wanted this because I enjoyed The Turning: New Stories so much. I liked Winton's prose very much - he's got a very good command of the language, and many excellent turns of phrase. I really enjoyed the beginning, with Scully's arrival in Ireland and the description of his efforts to fix up the new house. Unfortnately, the story took a darker turn, and the pressures build on Scully, causing him to do some ill-advised things. I found that I could either believe that his actions were a huge stret ...more
Ashley Hay
I've just re-read The Riders - 18 or 19 years after my first reading, and now in possession of my own family. The first time around, I got it less than I got Tim Winton's other books, which I loved. I couldn't fully understand its frenzy, or its panic. Reading it again all these years later, I relished it, and it read (as I just wrote in a review of another book for another place) as a masterclass in "ferocious love, human bafflement, and awful, indomitable pain". Proof, if proof was ever needed ...more
Andrea De Pace
The novel is about a journey across Europe after a missing woman, who abandoned her family.
No answers will be found, but Scully will see how too much love can be sick.

The plot is well-built, and the absence of the other main character, Jennifer, actually fill the emptiness left with shadowy riddles behind her.
Despite of a good narrative rhythm at which characters appear and play, some traits of them are exaggerate: the child behaving like an adult, Scully being so obsessed with his wife to negl
...more
Marsia
Oct 01, 2009 Marsia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like stories involving travel and mystery of the spiritual kind
The riders: who are they? Are they real? And just what, exactly, do they represent?

To me this was a riveting story, told in brilliant prose that engaged me until the mysterious end.

Like Skully, the protagonist of this novel, author Tim Winton is an Australian, but the story begins in Ireland, where Skully is repairing a small house in a small village, while his wife, Jennifer, and seven-year-old daughter, Billie, are in Australia arranging the sale of their house there. When Billie arrives at
...more
Glen
Fooking maddening, this book! I couldn't put it down and I loved it, even when I knew that the pursued wife Jennifer would end up being like God in a Bergman film--the one character present by absence. Great characters and descriptions, nice symbolism of the pilgrimage of gypsies expectant of some benevolence but finding none except the love of each other for each other and friends along the way. Winton surely understands alcoholism as well, and the codependency of those who love them in the per ...more
Monica
I have always enjoyed Tim Winton’s books, and “The Riders” is no exception. Scully’s entire life is turned upside down when his daughter steps off the plane without his wife. He spins into a whirlwind of emotion, traveling from Ireland to Greece to Paris to find Jennifer, clueless as to why she would disappear without a word, why she would abandon their child. This is a very emotional book. It tugged at my heart, it made me want to fight for Scully and his daughter, to find answers for him so th ...more
Julie
A disturbing, frustrating and beautiful book. It is about the power and hopelessness of passion and the reckless way some people enter marriage and parenthood. It is also about the power of love when it works the way it is supposed to. Although parts of the story are nearly gruesome with suffering, there is something so beautiful about Scully's pigheaded determination to do right by Billie and her determination to believe in him. This pair captured my heart even as I willed them to give up the s ...more
Central Highlands Libraries
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 wor ...more
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The Riders 3 42 May 26, 2013 02:32PM  
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Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the small country town of Albany.

While a student at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer. It went on to win The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, and launched his writing career. In fact, he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows
...more
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“The whole underneath of Paris was an ant nest, Metro tunnels, sewer shafts, catacombs, mines, cemeteries. She'd been down in the city of bones where skulls and femurs rose in yellowing walls. Right down there, win the square before them. through a dinky little entrance, were the Roman ruins like honeycomb. The trains went under the river. There were tunnels people had forgotten about. It was a wonder Paris stood up at all. The bit you saw was only half of it. Her skin burned, thinking of it. The Hunchback knew. Up here in the tower of Notre Dame he saw how it was. Now and then, with the bells rattling his bones, he saw it like God saw it -- inside, outside, above and under -- just for a moment. The rest of the time he went back to hurting and waiting like Scully out there crying in the wind.” 2 likes
“And the sun on the wall of her room, the block of sun with all the tiny flying things in it. When she was little she thought they were the souls of dead insects, still buzzing in the light.” 1 likes
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