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Hope Farm

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,524 ratings  ·  170 reviews

'They were inescapable, the tensions of the adult world — the fraught and febrile aura that surrounded Ishtar and those in her orbit, that whined and creaked like a wire pulled too tight.'

It is the winter of 1985. Hope Farm sticks out of the ragged landscape like a decaying tooth, its weatherboard walls sagging into the undergrowth. Silver's mother, Ishtar, has fallen

Paperback, 343 pages
Published September 28th 2015 by Scribe (first published September 23rd 2015)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,524 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Michael Livingston
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Somewhat strangely, this is the third book I've read this year narrated by a kid who grew up in some sort of communal hippie arrangement (after Arcadia and The World Without Us). I'm not sure what's prompted this spate of similarly themed books, but Peggy Frew has managed to bring something valuable to this odd little niche. Frew writes beautifully, with a real knack for describing the awkwardness of adolescence and the frustrating love within families. The story is well crafted, and the result ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
The is a beautifully written, extremely compelling story.

In 1985, Ishtar under the spell of a new boyfriend, takes her thirteen year old child, Silver off to live at Hope Farm, which is a kind of sad, failed hippy commune. Silver's descriptions of the events of that year are absorbing and the engrossing story unfolds around the various personalities that affect Silver's life.

While Silver is 13 for the majority of the book and experiencing all the angst of teenage-hood, her first crush and the mi
Rebecca McNutt
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Although I don't agree with their environmentalist point of views, there is still something captivating about hippies. The psychedelic drugs, the rainbow vans, the bohemian lifestyle, the sitar music, the social causes... and Hope Farm captures it all perfectly, giving readers a view of a 1980's hippie commune and the seemingly idyllic lifestyle which eventually turns out to not be the paradise they'd dreamed of.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Okay. Clearly I don’t ‘get’ Peggy Frew.

It’s all ticker-tape parades and celebrations here on Goodreads for Hope Farm. And then there’s my two star rating, sitting alongside the glowing four and five-star reviews.

Hope Farm is the story of Silver and her mother, Ishtar. They have lived a nomadic hippie existence for all of Silver’s 13 years and, after Ishtar meets the charismatic Miller, they move to Hope Farm, a commune in rural Victoria. At Hope Farm, Silver sees her mother in a different light
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had such high hopes for this book. I was teary by page 16 and questioning my prior assertion that The Natural Way of Things was a dead cert to win the Stella Prize.

But, after such a promising beginning, it kind of falls flat. I totally get the intensity of Silver's yearning for the kind of parental love that has been absent. I also get how she has been shaped by her tumultuous childhood.

Ishtar, however, perplexes me. The adult relationships here seem cold and lifeless. Some of the events at
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A sad and engaging story about the awkwardness of growing up when you don't fit in. I liked reading this from Adult Silver's perspective, her recollections of being 13. That allowed for more insight and analysis than would be believable coming from a 13 year old narrator.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Silver is used to living life in transit, growing up in various ashrams and communes, following the whims of her hippie/free spirited mother, Ishtar. When Ishtar falls under the spell of the charismatic leader of a hippie commune called Hope Farm, Silver and her mother relocate to the crumbling home and dilapidated farm. Once there, the culmination of their decisions rushes up to meet them in a devastating way.
I found this book enjoyable on multiple levels, some I wasn’t expecting. The story of
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Cult stories and dual timelines usually tick all the boxes for me, but this slower narrative didn’t quite work. For the majority of the novel I felt that my empathy and connection with the characterization was being invested in Ishtar. I felt that we were on the edge of an exploration of motherhood, and the connection with her daughter Silver was slowly being drawn out. I don’t think it delivered (for me) for a number of reasons, mostly centered around the way she moved to being positioned as a ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘But this was all bearable. I was used to it. I was cloaked in layers of difference, thirteen years deep; I didn’t expect this not to go unnoticed.’

Silver is aged thirteen in 1985 when she and her mother Ishtar move to a commune in rural Gippsland. The commune is named Hope Farm. Ishtar has moved because of the new man in her life: Miller. Ishtar is in love, and hopes that this relationship will last. Silver hopes for some stability in her life, for a home, to make friends. Silver meets Ian, who
Cat Woods
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I haven't gotten so shaky and so fully immersed in a book for what feels like a lifetime. Peggy Frew is a goddess with a pen. Or a computer, as it is these days. The finely wrought, delicate winding of the umbilical cord between women who are hurt, hopeful, loving and fearful is heartbreaking. Ishtar and her need to provide and protect - but who? Her daughter or herself? Her own mother - defiant and silent in her convictions. Silver - the catalyst and the observer and the narrator. Though set in ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh wow, could not put this one down. So exquisitely told by two characters who cleverly share the narrative - loved how this was achieved. Frew weaves together a mix of characters that find resolution difficult, some triumph; some do not. There is a strong sense of murkiness, bewilderment and unease that is present right from the beginning to the very end. Well written, love Frew's style. Look forward to more in the future.
Bree T
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This year I made a commitment to read the six books shortlisted for the Stella Prize, which recognises writing by Australian female authors. I’d already read one last year (The Natural Way Of Things by Charlotte Wood) so that left me five to read. To help motivate me for this I signed up for the Stella bookclub where participants read one book a week to complete the shortlist before the winner is announced. There’s a Twitter chat each Monday night between 8-9pm where those who have read the book ...more
Sam Still Reading
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people looking for a well constructed read
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: on wishlist/from publisher
Isn’t the cover of Hope Farm gorgeous? I love the way it looks almost 3D and the earth/leaf litter motif is quite symbolic of many people in the book, trying to return to what they believe a natural existence to be. But the real bonus is that the contents of Hope Farm are just as brilliant. I loved this mesmerising story of Silver and her mother Ishtar, who lead a somewhat unconventional existence in the mid-1980s.

Some would call Ishtar a hippie, as she’s lived in ashrams on and off since Silve
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started reading this again recently, and was immediately as captivated as I had been the first time I raced through it. I love Frew's lyricism, her obvious deep love for the Victorian environment, her clear-eyed look at a love that is premised on loneliness.

Ishtar as a character still remains opaque to me, and I have mixed feelings about the last few chapters, but I can't help melting towards Silver and her staunch inner world, and determination to eke something out for herself. She's a perfe
The author's ability to reveal the motivations and personalities of characters subtlety but with pin-point accuracy was the stand-out feature of Hope Farm. The language of the first person narrative of the teenager Silver was luminous and expansive; it contrasted markedly with the simply written, pain-filled recollections of her mother Ishtar. The novel's finely drawn and evocative Australian setting added greatly to its appeal.

The first half of Hope Farm was especially engaging but my interest
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Another winner from the Stella Prize shortlist. I had a weird bias against this, based on my interpretation of the blurb (kid grows up in hippie commune – did not sound like my thing) and an idea that it couldn’t possibly be as good as the other books on the shortlist. But of course it was! It’s set in 1985 and told from alternating points of view – thirteen year old Silver and her young mother Ishtar; Silver’s part details their move from a commune in Brisbane to a farm in chilly Victoria while ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I have many reading projects this year, one of which is to get back to reading contemporary Australian authors. I was helped along in this endeavour by collecting up the entire Miles Franklin shortlist, the novels of which all look outstanding. I start this project with Peggy Frew's Hope Farm, a novel of which I am tempted to label an Australian version of Lauren Groff's Arcardia. The alternative lifestyle and child narrator being the most obvious similarities. I quite enjoy a good "co
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Hope Farm is another example of how great Australian literature is at the moments. The novel captures the awkwardness of growing up and not fitting in with a sometimes bleak honesty that continues to resonate once the novel is done. Although a little slow to begin with, Frew develops her flawed characters carefully throughout. At the end you are left both understanding of their frustrations and empathetic of their weaknesses. This was a great read.
Kylie Porter
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! Loved it. The story of a 13 year old girl, Silver, who with her mother, Ishtar, goes to live on a commune in country Victoria. A life of moving around and looking for somewhere to belong. This book looks at the parallel lives of Silver and Ishtar. How they came to be where they are. A look into the world of a young single mother looking to find something, but she doesn't know what it is.
I loved the story of the young Silver becoming her own personal as she travels into the teenage years.
Steve lovell
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
He's a greasy little sleazeball, is the young Charlie Manson - as portrayed in 'Aquarius'. But he is seemingly a charismatic figure to the impressionable young maidens who bound around him. They hang out and do the drug thing at his urban commune - such a happening place. Eventually he coerces his teenage acolytes to do deeds for him that he perceives will contribute to him reaching his destiny - later on these will become the epitome of evil. For now his vicious streak is already starting to sh ...more
Scribe Publications
Peggy Frew is an amazing writer and Hope Farm is a great novel that captures the pleasures and difficulties of being both a parent and of being a child. The complex story of Silver and Ishtar and their fraught relationship is beautifully written, acutely observed and, best of all, completely absorbing. I could almost feel the crisp Gippsland mornings, hear the birds warbling and smell the stale dope smoke. Hope Farm is elegant, tender and very wise.
Chris Womersley, Award-Winning Author of Cairo
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Hope Farm is Peggy Frew’s second novel, and it’s longlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award. Although its setting is a hippie commune in decline, it’s an elegy for kids brought up in dysfunctional circumstances anywhere.

Silver, looking back on her childhood and the traumatic events of her thirteenth year in 1985, narrates most of the story, with interleaved excerpts from her mother’s memoir filling in her own backstory. Her mother is Ishtar née Karen, who embraced the communal lifestyle when a
This started off a little too downbeat for my liking, and I almost set it aside in favour of something a bit sparkier. Luckily, as I began to know the mother/daughter main characters better, I became more reconciled with the slow and quiet tone of the book.

Although there is a distinct plot, Hope Farm is about the relationship between Silver and her mother, Ishtar. Action, thoughts and feelings are opened up to our scrutiny in chapters alternating the respective points of view of Silver and Ishta
3.5 stars.
Really tricky one! I loved the way it was written, and absolutely loved the characters. It was headed firmly for 5 stars, but towards the end it started to wilt a little. Still a good read.
Yvonne Boag
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, australian
Silver and her mother have moved from commune to commune for all of Silver's thirteen years. She is used to a life of sharing; food, jobs and bathrooms, never owning anything that belonged to her alone. When they arrive at Hope Farm in Victoria, Silver expects everything to be the same and is resigned to it all. While on the surface this seems to be true, there are many hidden currents here waiting to snag the unwary and Silver must make some life altering decisions.

The book is set in 1985 and P
Julia Tulloh Harper
DNF...? I feel terrible saying this! I think I'll return to this book another time. I read 'The Girls' by Emma Cline recently and felt that was a better written version of a similar situation/themes. I still want to read this though as everyone loves it so much, and it's set in Victoria, my home state. Alas, sometimes it's just not the right time to read certain books. Maybe in another year or two.
Amy Polyreader
4 stars. A fresh voice, unique storyline and interesting subject matter.

Hope Farm is a rich fictional recollection on the life of a young mother and daughter living in a sludgy hippie commune in 1980's Victoria. This structureless community, with its drug infused ideals and lack of parenting, trigger traumatic events which lead to lifelong struggles.
Sarah Steed
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Stella long list is really bringing it this year(yes, I know the short list is already out and I'm very glad this made it). A curious, sad, book about families and secrets. The deeply ironic title only adds to the bleakness. I'm not sure I'm selling it but I really did love it.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Parenthood is no simple or straight road, and long after birth there exists, still, symbiosis between parent and child. Peggy Frew's novel Hope Farm deftly explores the consequences of youthful decisions, the effect of silence on love, and how a parent can represent home to a child.

Thirteen-year-old Silver Landes is used to moving around between ashram and commune with her young, single mother Ishtar, but that doesn't stop her from yearning to have her mother to herself, and a place of their own
Tonstant Weader
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hope Farm is the story of a girl named Silver coming of age in a commune named Hope after growing up in one communal home after another. She is a self-reliant and mature girl whose mother Ishtar is shamed when people praise her for how mature and tough her daughter is. She knows it a reflection of her own unreliability. Since Silver was born, she has moved from man to man and community to community. Now there are at Hope, a rundown, decrepit farm with a few other residents, most of them dispirit ...more
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Peggy Frew's debut novel, House of Sticks, won the 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Her story 'Home Visit' won The Age short story competition. She has been published in New Australian Stories 2, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, and Meanjin. Peggy is also a member of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting.

Hope Farm is her l

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