Small Mercies (Richard Anderson, Scribe)
Dimple and Ruthie Travers are farmers in a tough time. Drought has seen them reduce their cattle herd and hold off sowing crops. Money is tight, rain is always forecast but never comes, and although they aren’t desperate, it won’t be long before they are. When they hear an arrogant landowner of substantial means badmouth small farmers on the radio, they decide to pay him a visit and protest. Ruthie is keeping a secret and wants a couple of days’ respite from her own personal anxieties, but her deep-seated fears cause her to act out of character and set in motion events neither she nor Dimple truly want, but don’t know how to stop. This is a book with big themes, but in the end they are only background to the couple’s relationship and, though treated seriously, are not explored in great depth. An undemanding read for those who enjoy human stories with a rural setting, Small Mercies is the tale of a man and a woman who have weathered many trials by taking each other for granted, and who come to realise that familiarity doesn’t necessarily mean they know everything they should about one another.
Lindy Jones is the senior buyer at Abbey’s Bookshop in Sydney