Mrsgaskell's Reviews > The Riders

The Riders by Tim Winton
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's review
Nov 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 9-star, bookcrossing
Read in January, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This is the second book I’ve read by Tim Winton. I didn’t care much for Dirt Music but I’m glad I gave this author a second chance because I found The Riders extremely well-written and gripping. When we first meet Fred Scully, he is in Ireland fixing up a derelict “two-up and two-down” cottage for his family. Pregnant wife Jennifer and 7 year-old daughter Billie have returned home to Australia to sell the family home. The family had been travelling in Europe for the last three years while Jennifer pursued creative dreams of writing and painting, and Scully supported them as well as he could by manual labour of various sorts. They had decided to return to Australia, but on a weekend break to Ireland Jennifer fell in love with the cottage at first sight and they decided to buy it. It is clear that Scully loves his wife and daughter and would do anything for them – his love for his native Australia is also apparent. With this vision of a close loving family in mind, it is shocking when Scully goes to the airport, impatient to be reunited with his wife and daughter, and Billie arrives on her own. She is too shocked to tell him anything and Jennifer has provided no explanation. What follows is an obsessive chase around Europe as Scully drags Billie along from place to place, revisiting their travels of the past three years, looking up friends, Jennifer’s friends really, in a frantic attempt to find her. As Scully and Billie race from Ireland to Greece, Italy, France, and ultimately Amsterdam, what emerges, in part from Billie’s point of view, is a different picture of this marriage. Billie seems mature beyond her years, and has always been closer to Scully than to her mother and ultimately she is the one who saves Scully. This is a suspenseful and beautifully written novel, but also one that leaves many unanswered questions. I didn’t always feel that I was “getting” everything but I loved this novel. The riders are folkloric figures, mounted huntsmen in mad pursuit, and Scully has visions of them on a few occasions.

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