The Riders

This isn’t my first foray into Winton, I’m a fan of some of his short stories, and really loved the strangeness of Cloudstreet. There were these gorgeous chapters from the perspective of a boy with a mental disability.

The Riders is much more mainstream – and probably the most commercial and well-known of his works. Fred Scully is fixing up an old place in the Irish countryside, awaiting the arrival of his wife Jennifer and daughter Billie who are selling their house in Fremantle. They have been travelling around Europe for years – Greece, London, Paris… Scully is looking forward to settling down, but when he goes to the airport to pick up his family… Billie emerges from the plane alone. She is clearly traumatised, and takes days to speak to Scully, who is frantically trying to figure out what happened to his wife.

What follows is an Odyssey throughout Europe, with Scully trying to re-visit the towns of his past – not only to look for physical signs of Jennifer, but also metaphorically to re-visit those places for clues as to what lead her to leave him.

It is frantically paced, and includes interesting characters. Scully, described as a man who looks like a serial killer, is surprisingly gentle. He has been the main caregiver to Billie for years and is a man who can do “womanly things” such as cooking, cleaning etc. Yet he drags poor Billie around, obsessed with finding his wife. Ironically it is Billie who understands Jennifer more, and who longs for Scully to give up his search and accept that nothing will be the same again. The roles are gradually reversed as Scully’s desperation leads him to drink, and Billie is left picking up the pieces.

It is the emphasis and greater understanding of their love that pulls the novel together. I didn’t find it as riveting as the quotes on the front cover, it was interesting and a worthwhile read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s