Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Riders” as Want to Read:
The Riders
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Riders

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  5,015 Ratings  ·  394 Reviews
Fred Scully waits at the arrival gate of an international airport, anxious to see his wife and seven-year-old daughter. After two years in Europe they are finally settling down. He sees a new life before them, a stable outlook, and a cottage in the Irish countryside that he's renovated by hand. He's waited, sweated on this reunion. He does not like to be alone - he's that ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published June 23rd 1996 by Scribner
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Riders, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Natalie It bothers me that you've spoiled the book already.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
At first I wasn't sure how to feel about this book...on one hand, it's got wonderful, fluid prose. On the other hand, the main character (Scully) was frustrating beyond words, especially as the book progressed. The sole reason for this is because the synopsis leads one to believe that the book is going in an entirely different direction with its intentions.

The synopsis isn't exactly misleading per se, but it does give the impression that the novel will move along at either a regular- or fast-pa
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
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was an incandescently beautiful book!

The prose is absolutely lovely and that is the primary strength of the novel, every paragraph is a pleasure to read due to the writing.

The plot was a bit of a surprise because the blurb on the back says " Fred Scully waits at the arrival gate of an international airport, anxious to see his wife and seven-year-old daughter. After two years in Europe they are finally settling down. He sees a new life before them, a stable outlook, and a cottage in the Iris
Jul 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
: 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
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
Moses Kilolo
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
After a friend read this I felt that I needed to reread it as other than remembering having enjoyed it I couldn't really recall very much about it. I did find that a lot came back to me but I think a few things may have impacted more this time round than they did the first time. I found that I was not as sympathetic towards Scully and his almost insane obsession with finding his wife. What he did to his 7 year old daughter Billie in the process almost bordered on abuse. This was very much a book ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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,
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jeannette Katzir
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Ashley Hay
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, my-fiction
The first Winton book I have read and I have come out of it massively impressed.

We are told the bitter tale of a man called Scully and his daughter Billie. Scully is desperately in love with his wife who, seemingly out of the blue, deserts him. With that event we eventually learn Scully and his wife are different. Scully is not that attractive. Hard worker that he is, Scully, is basically rustic. Unbeknownst to himself he is not part of the intellectual expatriate art set his wife is attracted
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jaysus, can this dude write! The distressing travails of poor Scully shape a peripatetic tale unlike any other, but it's the language that I want to hoot about. Now I want to read everything Winton's done.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia, fiction
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
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
No one can write like Tim Winton. His ability to create living word pictures is amazing. He created two incredible characters in this book. Father and daughter. Scully and Billy.
I spent much of the time reading this just writhing in absolute frustration at the complete idiocy of Scully. I wondered how any father could put his young child in such danger and treat her with such disregard. I wondered at the blind love,that drove him on this chaotic and insane dash about Europe in search of his wif
Angus McKeogh
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Since it was up for the Booker Prize I was expecting a lot more. It took a quarter of the book to reach a conflict which was interesting. Then it meandered around from one confusing topic to the next. It appeared to have no direction and was mixed with a surreal and convoluted flashback. Just kind of boring for the most part with nothing being resolved.
Max Coggan
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Poor Scully. He reminds me of the saying.....” I have had more trouble with myself than any other man I have ever met.”
A novel that shows the emotional power of love.
Heather Goodman
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such beautiful and fluid prose. Winton writes with honesty, compassion, and kindness, and he moves easily between Ireland, Greece, Italy, and France, giving us not a glamorous touristy picture, but a realistic portrayal from the perspective of a man falling apart. At times I despise the protagonist and his choices, but Winton makes me understand him and sympathize with him. I feel all his frustration, and Winton denies us answers in the same way that the protagonist is denied. Amazingly done.
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about The Riders. First of all, it was spoiled for me by a Goodreads user who had posted a question that absolutely ruined it. It gave the whole thing away. You see the questions directly above user reviews and I like to glance over user reviews to see if there are a majority of people that liked it. So I'm not sure if it's Goodreads fault for placing them ABOVE the reviews or whether it's the fault of the user for not using some kind of spoiler warning, but it was impossib ...more
Richard Moss
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I have been a big fan of Tim Winton for some time, but had not got round to reading The Riders - possibly because unlike his other fiction it isn't set in Australia. But this is another superb novel from an incredibly talented writer.

Instead the opening chapters are set in Ireland, as Fred Scully renovates an old farm cottage in advance of the arrival of his pregnant wife Jennifer, and daughter Billie.

But when only Billie shows up at the airport, Scully ends up purusing the mystery of his wife's
I first read this book more than ten years ago and found it irritating. It seemed to me that Tim Winton had done all this overseas travel - to Ireland, to Greece, to Europe. And goddamn it! He was going to milk it for all it was worth for his next novel.

I did not understand Frederick Scully. I didn't like being inside his head, in the way that Tim Winton forces you to be with his use of interior monologue. A point of view that switches between him and his daughter, Billie. The story seemed so fa
Cheyenne Blue
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: australian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: combine descriptions for all editions 3 12 Jul 16, 2017 03:01AM  
The Riders 3 46 May 26, 2013 02:32PM  
  • Fortunes of Richard Mahony
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • For Love Alone
  • The Tree Of Man
  • Carpentaria
  • The Great World
  • Grand Days
  • Power Without Glory
  • Bliss
  • The White Earth
  • Death of a River Guide
  • My Brother Jack
  • The Submerged Cathedral
  • It's Raining in Mango
  • That Deadman Dance
  • Pascali's Island
  • The Life
  • Monkey Grip
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 about Tim Winton

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • West of the Tularosa
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Love and Ruin
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Siddhartha
    $10.95 $2.99
  • The Orphan Daughter
    $4.99 $1.99
  • When We Were Worthy
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Somebody's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • A Night Divided
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition
    $24.95 $2.99
  • The Cherished Quilt
    $8.99 $2.99
  • To Find a Mountain
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I'll Be Your Blue Sky
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Lotterys Plus One
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Buddha
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Falls (P.S.)
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Broken Pieces
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Love Held Captive (A Lone Star Hero's Love Story)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Girl Who Came Home
    $11.99 $1.99
  • When Jesus Wept (The Jerusalem Chronicles, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • In the Name of the Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Hired Man
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Crimes Against a Book Club
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Girls of the Great War
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Map of Love: A Novel
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Wish Me Home
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Every Tongue Got to Confess
    $10.24 $1.99
  • A Golden Age
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Serena
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Dreamland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Holy Fools
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Tampa
    $11.49 $1.99
  • The Beloved Hope Chest
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth Avenue Artists Society
    $11.99 $1.99
  • All That's Left of Me
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Labyrinths (New Directions Paperbook)
    $15.95 $2.99
  • Palm Trees in the Snow
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Tell The Wolves I'm Home
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Mary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • A Map of the World
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Chemistry Lessons
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Last Flight of Poxl West: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Come Home to Me
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Year We Left Home
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Whip
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Touching Spirit Bear (Spirit Bear, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Written on the Body
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Dragon's Teeth (The Lanny Budd Novels)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Journey's End (Gilded Promises)
    $3.99 $1.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“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.” 4 likes
“She wondered if you could love someone too much. If you could it wasn't fair. People didn't have a chance. Love was all you had in the end. It was like sleep, like clean water. When you fell off the world there was still love because love made the world. That's what she believed. That's how it was.” 2 likes
More quotes…