A husband and wife living on a severely drought-afflicted property take a brief break, only to find that their relationship is parched, too.
After enduring months of extreme drought on their modest freehold, farming couple Dimple and Ruthie face uncertain times on more than one front. Ruthie receives the news every woman dreads. Meanwhile, a wealthy landowner, Wally Oliver, appears on the local radio station, warning small farmers like Dimple and Ruthie that they are doomed, that the sooner they leave the land to large operators like him, the better. Bracing for a fight on all fronts, the couple decide to take a road trip to confront Oliver. Along the way, not only is their resolve tested, but their relationship as well.
Desperate not to dwell on the past but to face up to the future, Dimple and Ruthie make a crucial decision they soon regret. And when the storm clouds finally roll in across the land they love, there’s more than the rain to contend with.
Told with enormous heart, Small Mercies is a tender love story. It is a story of a couple who feel they must change to endure, and of the land that is as important as their presence on it.
‘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, Books+Publishing
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‘This novel is a perceptive study of marriage, of family farming, and of women’s lives, as well as a sombre look at the people in Australian society who have money and power, and at the way they wield those things to their own ends.’
‘This engaging story ... is one to remember for its credibility and timeliness.’
Christopher Bantick, The Weekly Times
‘Small Mercies by Richard Anderson is one of those books that should be mandatory reading for all Australians ... Anderson writes in an engaging manner, with just enough humour to lift the black to grey, without attempting in anyway to gloss over the seriousness of the subject matter ... Moving, perceptive and very readable.’
Karen Chisholm, The Blurb
‘Wholly engaging — a character-driven novel where the unforgiving Australian climate is an unpredictable character as well … Small Mercies isn’t just a window onto the crisis on the land. It’s the love story of an older couple too, something we don’t often see in fiction.’
Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers
‘This was an engaging and thought-provoking read, storytelling at its best, nuanced and credible.’
Carol Seeley, Reading, Writing and Riesling
‘Small Mercies is deeply empathetic, providing insight into the almost love/hate relationship between people and the land that they work and the almost insurmountable challenges that they know that they have to face but choose to face anyway. Given the current state of the debates raging about the drought and climate and the role of agriculture in Australia and around the world, Small Mercies is timely and in some ways essential reading.’
Pile by the Bed
‘As the novel moves along, the true-to-life conversations of the couple show their relationship is drying out like the land ... We share their shock and feel their fear of longer droughts, hotter temperatures, and how the rich and powerful work the system.’ 4.5 STARS
Judith Grace, Good Reading
‘Anderson’s emotional intelligence is acute. Small Mercies adds literary understanding to the stocks of the Australian rural novel.’
Ed Wright, The Australian
Praise for Boxed:
‘This is a clever and accomplished feat of storytelling with a satisfyingly gruesome climax, and a skilful evocation of Australian rural life.’
Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Saturday Age
Praise for Boxed:
‘Written by a farmer from northern NSW, Boxed brings to life rural Australia and all its characters in a rollicking, and at times heartbreaking, mystery.’
Gail Barnsley, Daily Telegraph
Praise for Retribution:
‘[A] slow-burning thriller that reads like a neo-Western … vividly captures the vast, rugged landscape and the brutal intensity of the heat in the back country.’
Declan Burke, The Irish Times