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The Woolgrower’s Companion

(Woolgrowers Companion #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  586 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.

It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his deb
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 8th 2017 by Chatto & Windus
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Whispering Stories
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

New South Wales, Australia, 1945, Kate Dowd lives on a sheep farm with her father Ralph Stimson and aborigine housekeeper, fourteen-year-old Daisy. Her husband Jack is off fighting in the Second World War.

Although Italy were now an ally in the war, their Prisoners of War (POWs) are still to be kept as prisoners. They are sent to work as part of a government scheme and the family acquire two men Luca Canali and Vittorio Bottinella to work on the
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2018, 2018-books
4.5 stars
The Woolgrower’s Companion is a historical fiction novel, penned by debut novelist Joy Rhoades. It is an immersive pastoral tale that combines a hint of romance and a touching coming of age story, along with serious issues that plague the sheep station of Amiens, the central setting focus of the novel.

Opening in the year 1945, The Woolgrower’s Companion zones in on the story of one woman, Kate Dowd, living on her family’s expansive sheep station pro
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This was a great story which I enjoyed; my type of storyline with the added interesting inclusion of the Italian POW's.
The characters were believable but sparsely developed, which in this case wasn't an issue- it was almost a feature, and it was told wholly from Kate's perspective. At times, I would have liked to have read Luca's perspective on things!
The one thing that originally drew me to this book was the cover! Beautiful.
My only reason for giving this a 3-star rating was the ending! Not hap
Linda Hill
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With WW2 raging abroad, life is tough for those eking out a living on Australian homesteads.

Oh heavens. If anyone were to ask me for an example of a perfect read, The Woolgrower’s Companion would be it. I truly adored it. Joy Rhoades seems to have looked inside my heart, found what touches it completely and used every element in her writing so that I am emotionally bereft at having finished the book. I read the last page, burst into tears and took quite a while to stop sobbing! The Woolgrower’s
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Mr Harold Kenneth John McGintey was a much smaller man than his name had suggested. Kate had some difficulty seeing much of him at all behind the big desk. He reminded her of an elderly wombat, low to the ground and slow-moving”

By early 1945, graziers in the Northern Tablelands of NSW were in the grip of an unrelenting drought. Coupled with the scarcity of able-bodied men, who were either fighting in the war, or casualties of it, the situation was dire enough that many property owners welcomed
Deborah Ideiosepius
This quite fascinating book is a work of fiction (but based on a real life relative of the author) which takes us to the outback station of Amiens, where Kate Dowd and her father are trying, in 1945, to hold the sheep station together with most of the workers shipped off to fight in WWII, and through a vicious drought. Into this Italian POWs come as cheap labour for the station and Kate's reaction to one of them is adding to her confusion.

Kate's world is a complicated one, her mother is dead, he
Susan Hampson
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It wasn’t as much of reading this book as it was experiencing the life changing transformation that took place of Kate Dowd. Kate really had been the little woman who was taken care of in every way possible to the point of, to put it blankly, being pretty useless at most things. Kate lives with her father on the family sheep ranch in Australia, it is 1945 and they have just taken in two Italian POW men to help out on the farm during one of the worst droughts they have ever lived through. Kate’s ...more
Joanna Park
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m on a roll for reading fantastic historical fiction and The Woolgrower’s Companion was no exception! It’s a fabulous read, full of history detail, heartbreak, endurance and love.

I loved the beautiful descriptions of Australia, in particular the wonderful sunsets.  The author so vividly described the rugged landscape that I felt I could feel the heat on my face and the dust in my mouth.  It was fascinating to learn more about Australian history during the war and to discover they also had rati
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Woolgrower's Companion is set on a sprawling sheep station in Northern New South Wales, Australia ~ era 1945.

The main character, Kate is left to look after and manage her father's property named Amiens with only The Woolgrower's Companion to guide her. (See the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter).

Her father has borne war wounds from the Great War and has been affected and in doing so has become vague and neglectful of his duties, it is all left up to his daughter, Kate to take over ma
Frankie (Chicks, Rogues and Scandals)
Well, what can I say about this book, other than; It is incredibly moving and astoundingly good. Really, this book is really too good for words! The Woolgrowers Companion is Ms Rhoades debut and, my goodness what an introduction, this highly talented author is going to go very far in the world of historical fiction. I love the fact that ‘The Woolgrowers Companion’ is based on the real-life story of one of the author’s ancestors, and at the start of each chapter is a little quote from The Wool Gr ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend you read this historical drama set against the backdrop of WWII. The war is coming to an end, but for Kate, the fight is just beginning. Rhoades’ writing brings this story to life in a captivating way, through her detailed descriptions of the climate, so atmospheric, the political stance of society and the historical accuracy – I had no idea Italians were POW in Australia. What really stood out for me was the strength of Rhoades writing, ...more
Pam Tickner
I enjoyed listening and discussing this audio book with my driving companion as it encompassed a wide range of early 40's Australian history. I didn't know Italian POW's were transported from Europe and elsewhere and brought to work on rural farms. Rhoades' explanation of the treatment of Aboriginals was interesting as she tried to give historical reference to the modern reader the poor treatment of non-white Australians. There were many inconsistencies in the story (like the foreman not allowin ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Historical romance with a bit of grit - this is an assured debut from Joy Rhoades and sheds light on a lot of hidden stories from a period in history that doesn't have a lot of diverse voices. The Woolgrower's Companion is set in country Australia in 1945 and its central cast includes young Aboriginal people, Italian POWs and, primarily, a young woman trying to save her family farm as her (somewhat tyrannical) father begins a steady decline. A quite heartbreaking tale, as the hardships all the c ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
It's a very good Australian story. I truly enjoyed reading. But it wasn't gripping me. And while I read it I wasn't terribly keen or committed to the story. And so it will take 3 stars. ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**** http://greatreadsandtealeaves.blogspo...

A detailed and well written account of life on the land at the conclusion of WWII in Australia. Times are tough, the drought goes on and personal circumstances make life for Kate a challenge to say the least.

‘You were right, you know,’ Meg called. ‘Sheilas have to be brave every bloody day. Men just need it in bursts, the bastards.’

I enjoyed how each chapter title included a quote from, ‘The Woolgrower’s Companion’; and how the author tried to tie in
Reannon Bowen
3.5 stars. This was slow to get going but there's enough interest to keep you reading. Once I hit 2/3 the way through I couldn't put it down. The ending felt a little up in the air but still a good read. ...more
Anna Davidson
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
An easy, enjoyable read with a great storyline. Touches on themes of class, PTSD, Indigenous issues. I really enjoyed the ending and the fact that it was left a little ambiguous and the storyline wasn't neatly tied up with all the readers' questions answered. ...more
Beth (bibliobeth)
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
First of all, a huge thank you to the author, Joy Rhoades for getting in touch and asking whether I'd be interested in reviewing her novel and to Virago UK for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I had already seen some very positive reviews of this book from my fellow bloggers and was really looking forward to getting stuck in. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, especially when based around the Second World War period and even more so when we get to hear about a country aside ...more
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Woolgrower’s Companion is without a shadow of a doubt an atmospheric saga novel. It brings alive in the mind, the era and outback of New South Wales, Australia. I really enjoyed the time I spend with Kate, during reading and the various themes which offered an insight into 1940s Australia.

The novel opens at Longhope railway station on 10th January 1945. Kate along with her father Ralph awaits the arrival of two POW’s from North Africa. We become aware these are not only POW’s but were previ
Michelle Ryles
You could be forgiven for thinking that The Woolgrower's Companion would be what I call a 'Mammy's book' from looking at the cover but it has so much depth and emotion that it is far from the family saga I was initially expecting. Each chapter starts with an extract from a sheep farmer's manual published in 1906: The Woolgrower's Companion; this is so authentic that I thought it was a real book and I was astonished to find that it was Joy Rhoades' very own creation.

The story revolves around Kat
Carys Wiggans
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of those books were you just feel all cosy and happy.
I could have read this in two days, but I was loving it so much that I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to finish it. But it was beautiful
Leanne Francis
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A compelling and quintessential Australian drama about the strength of one woman to triumph through adversity, a beautiful read
Blodeuedd Finland
I am bored, and when one is bored then give up
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A light read, but predictable plot and kind of disappointing ending ... needs a sequel!
Clair Sharpe
Set towards the end of World War 2, Kate Dowd lives with her father on their sheep station Amiens, in the Australian outback. Kate’s husband Jack (whom she married after not knowing him for long) is away training soldiers. Also living on the farm are Grimes, who oversees the day to day running of the farm, his young nephew Henry, some Aboriginal farm workers, a 14-year-old aboriginal housekeeper Daisy and 2 Italian POW labourers. Her father’s mental health is failing and Kate finds herself takin ...more
Susie Craig
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Woolgrower’s Companion is the story of a woman’s personal growth entwined with a love story. Kate is a young, newly-married woman whose husband is away training troops during the second World War. Burdened by debt and drought, she and her father are trying to keep Amiens, the family sheep property financial with the aid of a few farm hands and aboriginal workers and two Italian POWs. Kate is struggling to overcome the influence of traditional Australian attitudes in an era when women saw pea ...more
Gail Amendt
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoy Australian historical fiction, and this one is a real gem. Set on a sheep station, it tells the story of Kate Dowd, who is struggling to keep the station running in the last days of WWII. Years of drought, lack of labor with the able bodied men gone to war, and her father's declining health, have left the station in a precarious position. The arrival of two Italian POWs helps ease the work load, but also brings difficulties. Although Kate is 23, I would call this a coming of age novel as ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
'The Woolgrower's Companion' by Joy Rhoades was an engrossing story that dealt with some confronting issues in Australia's history. It is set on an isolated sheep and cattle farm where Kate lives with her father, a victim of World War 1 and now, dementia; Kate's husband is away training other soldiers. It is 1945 and the family have been allocated two Italian prisoners of war. They also have an Aboriginal girl (who has been taken from her family in accordance with the current law) who works as t ...more
Brigid Gallagher
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is 1945, and "The Woolgrower's Companion" opens with the arrival of two Italian POWs, sent to work on Kate Dowd's family sheep and cattle farm in New South Wales. The POWs - Luca and Vittorio are met with distrust and prejudice.
Kate faces a number of challenges as her fathers PTSD from the Great War becomes more pronounced, and the farm's existence comes under threat. Support comes from unexpected sources.
I loved the descriptions of Nature throughout the book, particularly the native birds.
Kirsty Dummin
Actual 3.5*

It may be circumstantial but it took me way longer to read this book than most usually do. The writing is good and the story was interesting, but I found it a little long/drawn out at times too.

I think the hardest thing about this book for me was the authenticity of it. I struggled with the injustices that they all faced, particularly the aboriginal characters, and Kate - simply because she was a woman.

I think the ending did the story justice and I’m glad of how it left me: hopeful.

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I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of hist ...more

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