'The sound of horses' hooves turns hollow on the farms west of Wirri. If a man can still ride, if he hasn't totally lost the use of his legs, if he hasn't died to the part of his heart that understands such things, then he should go for a gallop. At the very least he should stand at the road by the river imagining that he's pushing a horse up the steep hill that leads to the house on the farm once known as One Tree.
'Set in hardscrabble farming country and around the country show high-jumping circuit that prevailed in rural New South Wales prior to the Second World War, Foal's Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land.
'It is a love story of impossible beauty and sadness, a chronicle of dreams 'turned inside out', and miracles that never last, framed against a world both tender and unspeakably hard. Written in luminous prose and with an aching affinity for the landscape the book describes, Foal's Bread is the work of a born writer at the height of her considerable powers. It is a stunning work of remarkable originality and power, one that confirms Gillian Mears' reputation as one of our most exciting and acclaimed writers.' (From the publisher's website.)
Writing Disability in Australia:
|Type of disability||Lower-body paralysis.|
|Type of character||Primary.|
|Point of view||Third person.|
'Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread (2011) is an award-winning Australian novel that broadens ways of conceptualising the relationship between humans and horses through metaphor, with attention to the nurturing or abuse of both humans and horses. ‘Therapeutic metaphors’ in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) suggest how the horse-human bond can act as a catalyst to promote healing from sexual abuse and domestic violence. Little research has identified this rhetorical link. Concepts such as hybridity, or the melding of identities, embodied in the mythical Centaur, a primary trope in Mears’ novel, reflects upon the sense of union discussed in horse-human bond research. This essay explores metaphoric structures in Foal’s Bread and correspondences in EFP metaphors, arguing that EFP provides an evidentiary basis for Mears’ figurative language, which demonstrates the rethinking of horse-human relationships in the context of the horse’s role in human recovery or amelioration from sexual or domestic abuse.' (Publication abstract)
'The creek is a threatening site for women in Barbara Baynton’s Bush Studies (1902). The female characters in her stories are routinely represented as vulnerable, drowning, or murdered at the creek, and the slippery banks and murky waters have been established by Baynton as an Australian gothic space where women (and their bodies) are denied agency. Gillian Mears and Jessie Cole are two contemporary writers who challenge Baynton’s representation of the gothic creek. The female protagonists in their most recent Australian gothic novels, Noah in Mears’ Foal’s Bread (2011) and Mema in Cole’s Deeper Water (2014), understand the creek as a subversive site that accommodates alternative female corporeal experiences. While Noah in Foal’s Bread finds body autonomy in her use of the creek as a birthing space for her firstborn child, Mema in Deeper Water experiences body empowerment in her use of the creek as a space of sexual awakening. Though the gothic creek is a fearful site for women in Baynton’s establishing Australian gothic text, Bush Studies, both Foal’s Bread and Deeper Water demonstrate that the contemporary gothic creek is able to (re)negotiated as a site of female body autonomy and empowerment.' (Publication abstract)