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The Fence

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  67 reviews
"I promise you one thing, young lady. Building a fence is not going to keep the world out and won't keep your children in. Life's not that simple."

Gwen Hill has lived on Green Valley Avenue all her adult life. Here she brought her babies home, nurtured her garden and shared life's ups and downs with her best friend and neighbour, Babs. So when Babs dies and the house next
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Macmillan Australia
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Michelle Barraclough Hi Sylvia, you can find book club questions for The Fence here (from the Pan Macmillan site) - https://de3d63255e2ed87306a1-58ee2046...

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Gwen Hill has lived in Green Valley Way in the suburbs of Sydney all her married life. This is a suburb many Aussies will recognise from their childhoods. One where everyone is friendly and are always popping in to each other's houses for a cuppa or a beer. The kids are let loose to play in the street, all growing up together, fed by one neighbour or another, returning home tired and dirty at tea time. Gwen's best friend Babs lived next door and together they had planted a row of beautiful crab ...more

Gwen and Eric Hill had lived in their home on Green Valley Avenue since they married. Neighbours came and went, but a few stayed as they did. But when her next door neighbour and best friend Babs died, not long after her husband, Gwen had no idea the changes that would take place…

Francesca and Brandon Desmarchelliers and their four small children moved into Babs and Rohan’s home and there was immediate animosity between Frankie and Gwen. Frankie was a high flying executive working full time
Dale Harcombe
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars.
Anyone who has ever had problems with a neighbour will be able to relate in some ways to this book. Gwen and Eric have lived in their home in Green Valley Avenue since they were married 50 years before. Babs, her neighbour next door and her husband were their great friends. But after the deaths of the two of them, their son Michael decides to sell the house. Change is inevitable and Gwen, like many older people is resistant to change. Suddenly Gwen is confronted with new ne
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I think about how this book made me feel while I was reading it, I just have to laugh at myself. Because my back was up almost the whole time! But I think this was precisely the reaction that the author intended. The Desmarchelliers-Boyd family were the most despicable neighbours (Frankie especially), with absolutely no self-awareness of their own behaviours. But the Hills, on the other hand, didn't really make much effort to understand the needs of the young, large family that moved in nex ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

4.5 stars

#20BACKLISTIN2020 Backlist Book Challenge book #7

‘Next door is Rohan and Babs’ house, content in its garden of tranquil, clipped green and white gravel paths. The two gardens are separated not only by taste but by Gwen’s pride and joy. Where a fence might have been is a row of crab apples.’

The Fence by Meredith Jaffe is an attentive and discerning novel, that balances hilarious moments with serious themes. Jaffe’s novel takes the reader into the int
MarciaB - Book Muster Down Under
In this sharply witty and astute debut, Meredith Jaffe, well-known book critic and former editor of The Hoopla, gives new meaning to the terms “suburban bliss” and “neighbours from hell” in a novel that’s sure to have everybody talking!

We’re firstly introduced to Gwen Hill who has lived in this North Shore suburb of Sydney all her adult life. When she loses her best friend and confidante, Babs, to cancer and the house next door is sold, she holds all sorts of fears for the future.

Enter Frankie D
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gwen Hill has lived in Green Valley Avenue since 1962, she and her husband Eric were one of the first couples to move there and have brought up their family through the good and sad times. Imagine a place where it was nothing to have a cheery wave, kids ran up and down the street and it was nothing to pop over next door at the end of the day with a bottle of wine and some nibbles and all adults were called Auntie or Uncle. In fact, Meredith Jaffe paints a picture that was reminiscent of my child ...more
Imagine that you have lived next door to your best friend for decades, have shared countless cups of tea and glasses of wine, have raised each other’s children and moaned about each other’s husbands. You cried on her shoulder when you lost yet another baby and in turn tended to your friend’s garden as lovingly as your own. Your doors where always open for each other, and your children were free to roam the neighbourhood, safe under the umbrella of a large network of close neighbours. But your be ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian, arc, read-2016
A fantastic Australian suburban drama that made me smile.

It was the cover that drew me to this book. The image of a little girl climbing the fence took me back to my childhood days of climbing a similar wooden back fence to play with the kids next door. I could relate to Frankie wanting privacy - all our fencing is open wire, so I can see into the neighbour's backyard two doors up and everyone walking their dog along the path behind our house can watch me hang the washing out in my pyjamas. I co
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Heeeeyyyy.......I really liked this book actually!
I went into this book not really expecting anything. The first two or three chapters, I hadn't really gotten into the story because I wasn't able to relate to any of the characters who are all adults with families. So personally as a teenager who is sooooo immature, all that adult stuff about work and kids was a whole different ball game for me.

But this book was HILARIOUS. Frustrating but soooo funny. It was frustratingly hilarious. 


The fence c
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am surprising myself and giving this book 5 stars. I didn’t think a book about a neighbourhood dispute about a fence would be that good but truthfully I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were realistic and taking sides between the neighbours was half the fun really. I loved the story of each family as we went chapter by chapter alternating between each main character. The author is very in tune with feelings and has a real knack of making you feel like you are there in the middle of ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story of the neighbours in Green Valley Avenue including all the ups and downs that go with life in the suburbs. The characters were very realistic and the different points of view helped shape the story. As far as neighbours go, you have to be happy with what you have because the other option may be worse!
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
It is really hard to rate this novel. There is not a likeable character in the bunch. I have never read a book with so many disgusting characters. That being said it is not a bad read, it shows how quickly a neighborhood dispute can get out of hand. If you don't mind reading books with unlikeable character then this may well be for you.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was OK. I probably wouldn't have picked it up (or finished it) it if I weren't obligated to do so.

There were so many weird shifts in tense, often within a single sentence, and frequent distracting grammatical errors which really should have been picked up by an editor.

The descriptions of Eric's snail farm were gag-worthy. Unfortunately I'm very phobic when it comes to snails, so those sections made for extremely unpleasant reading.

Not a bad read all round, but ultimately not my cup o
Vivien Scullion
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was bought for me by my lovely sister She could not have bought me a more heartwarming book. Could not put it down
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great first relatable...looking forward to her second
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really well written book. Australian society now, today. Two different Australian generations on two blocks of land connected with fence, improvised fence and after real fence.
M. Jaffe skilfully described both generations in great detail that it almost hurts. Being by myself of European descent (where males provided for family, children, cherished family...) have to say that it is really hard to accept younger and newer generations, families where the women are breadwinners, families with 5?
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I actually didn't like this book much. I thought the characters were overdone and the main woman so atrocious I could barely read about her. Anyway, this book has also provided some interesting and thought-provoking themes. Firstly, the change in society from one of community and inclusion to families 'protecting their fortress'. I have always blamed the older generation for this, to a certain extent, as I found being at home with young kids incredibly isolating. But maybe our generation has cre ...more
Natalie  S
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The characters in Meredith Jaffé’s debut novel The Fence may live in the pleasant-sounding, Green Valley, but the neighbourhood is far from idyllic. It’s actually the setting for two feuding next door neighbours. At times some parts of this story would not be out of place on A Current Affair or Today Tonight with the title, “Shocking neighbours.” This novel ultimately shares a few things in common with Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap in that it is a well-written family drama set in suburban Austral ...more
Jo Jackson
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book at a Bookfair based on the cover, of which you should never judge a book. But I am glad I did. I had not heard of Meredith Jaffe before and really enjoyed reading this story.
I look forward to reading her second novel, recently released.
The fence placed a division not only between two houses and their respective families, but also impacted the surrounding neighbourhood and the hub that had once been full of fun, love and growing families.
How does a fence cause so much damag
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was prepared to feel quite uncomfortable reading this, as conflict over boundary fences has the potential to feel a little too close to home. However it was all handled so well, I loved learning about the family members on both sides (with a tear or two shed for Eric's situation) and an ending that came full circle.
Christine Riches
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Blergh. I don't think I've ever read a book with such unlikeable main characters. Frankie, who seems completely withering of older people (has issues with everyone more accurately) and Gwen who thinks her garden is more important than people and relationships.

There was some kind of lesson at the end about how fences don't improve your life.

Karen Langford
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic!! I wanted to sit and read in one afternoon but stretched this wonderful book out over four days. A story set in a Sydney suburb that centres around a fence and how we loose sense of others when we lock ourselves behind our 6 foot palings
Athene Alleck
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
An easy, addictive read with hints of Lianne Moriarty's 'The Husbands Secret', although Jaffe's characters are painted with a more compassionate brush. I loved the two women's perspectives and feel I know the characters. I was even inspired to talk to my neighbours and potter in the garden!
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Cheryl 2016
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. Can see all sides to the story. A good read
Jo Hartley
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why I persevered with this but perhaps I was just tired and reluctant to use my brain much. But of a non event
Kerryn Smith
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book Was a very easy read and could really see this happening in neighbourhoods
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable story. Much more to it than the title infers. Well written and surprisingly true to life in small ways.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Don’t ask me why but before I began reading this I had The Slap by Chris Tsiolkas in my mind. And of course the two novels are completely different
I really enjoyed The Fence. It wasn’t a burning thriller or a searing drama but it was a sad tale of ageing and loss and infidelity and parenting in the modern world and of course the cost, both monetary and emotional, of being someone’s neighbour.
Another reader told me she found the characters infuriating but I only felt that for Frankie and Brandon
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Meredith Jaffé is the author of two adult works of fiction, The Fence (2016) and The Making of Christina (2017.) Horse Warrior, the first in a children’s series, was published in 2019. She also contributed a short story, Pedestrian Undies, to the 2019 Funny Bones anthology, which raises funds for the charity War Child.

She is the Festival Director for StoryFest held on the NSW South Coast and regul

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