Black Cow

Black Cow

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Freya and James Archer live the high life in a luxury home in Sydney's poshest suburb, with money, matching Jags, two beautiful teenage kids ... and they couldn't be more despondent.James wakes weeping each morning, dreading the pressures of a long and grueling work day ahead, and Freya is struggling with her foundering real estate career.Global recession is biting in Australia, and the Archers are afraid.In a desperate bid for happiness and security they shed the fragile trappings of success and cruise over into the slow lane to take an unmapped turn-off on a country road and live off the land in a remote old farmhouse on the peaceful southern island of Tasmania.But is this an end to their old misery or the beginning of an even greater one?
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Product details

  • Paperback | 290 pages
  • 127 x 203 x 16mm | 318g
  • Canada
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1927086469
  • 9781927086469
  • 1,715,932

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Our customer reviews

In this cunningly crafted novel Magdalena Ball takes us to the heart of a family floundering on the brink of self destruction. And it is truly a destruction of self we are watching in painful clarity. The multitude of material goods that clutter their concrete lives is in direct contrast to the idealism and truth of their youth. It is a life they have first chosen, then drifted with, but is now surely choking the essence of their whole family. Magdalena has put a stark mirror to their lives. Freya and Edward are too close to see, but close enough to know fear. It takes time for this fear to have a name. Time for the lifestyle of the parents to implode on not only themselves, but their children. Essentially, Edward and Freya are in a hell of their own choosing and as a reader we can palpate the pulse of the chaos of their lives. But for all their materialism and struggle, we can see shadows of their former, purer selves - and this compels us to hope for their redemption before they even begin to hope for themselves. These are not two people who we hope hit rock bottom, but we sense strongly that this is precisely the stimulus that will push these two out of the miasma of their illusory success. The disconnection of the family is terrifying. With each stroke Freya forces in the pool, and each entry of Edward into the boardroom as CEO, we sense life out of control, but we become invested in them. These are two people who have a growing sense of loss of self, and we tense with them as they gradually discard old ties and clear away the debris of what once was their sense of achievement and identity. It is a shedding as painful as the decline, and the authenticity of their journey is never lost in glib phrases or overnight solutions. We see the courage of Freya as she battles her own connection with the material life she loves. We experience the raw terror of crossing the tight rope between old and new. Sometimes we flinch. Even as they cut the umbilical cord to their former selves, fresh revelations of are made and further unravelling is revealed, until Freya and Edward reach a point where we see a glimmer that the best is yet to be for this family. There will be no return to the dysfunction of the old. Reconnection with each other and their children will not be abandoned. We know this as we see both Freya and Edward glimpse the change in their children. The black cow becomes a symbol of their renewal. There is an authenticity and honesty about the revelation of their characters and the torment of the children that is the inevitable collateral of a lifestyle that is decaying. And yet Ball doesn't demonise the lifestyle, but skilfully reveals the people Freya and Edward had meant to become before they became lost. The dreams they let slip away, the hopes that died. Secondary characters are deliberately peripheral. Their lives have become too shallow for real life, real connections. Ball peels back the layers of the relationship as she brings Freya and Edward back from the brink of their own carefully scripted disaster, giving hope in change to sustainable solutions for their lives, both environmental and emotional. It is a hope we cannot help but savour. A hope that compels us to re-examine our own lives and seek meaning, and the courage to sacrifice in order to live without compromise, or regret. To check the compass of our own yesterdays, todays and more
by Linda Brooks
Magdalena ball has penned a novel based on a modern family's journey. Freya and James along with their teenage children, Cameron and Dylan, find themselves in a whirlpool of stress. Freya is struggling in her role as a real estate agent. She wishes that life could be less stressful but is reluctant to trade life's luxuries for peace of mind. Her husband James is a workaholic who never lets up on himself. James is the CEO of the firm he has devoted his life to. His day is a never ending round of meetings and decisions. At home he can't turn his adrenalin rush off and seeks solace in alcohol instead of Freya. Fourteen year old Cameron thinks her parents are living on another planet. She isolates herself from the family and seeks solace in self-abuse. Moody, picky with her food and thinking no one understands her, presents herself to the world as a gothic Joan of Arc. Dylan is in his sixteenth year and in love with his guitar. The instrument is almost a physical part of him. He takes it everywhere with him and even plays it in the school corridors, as well as carrying out other misdemeanors. Financial burdens of a mortgage, private school expenses, car repayments and the kids' appetites for the latest electronic gadgets never go away. Freya and James feel like they are drowning in the suburban competition to keep one step ahead of liquidity. Heaped upon the monetary strains are the social issues each member of the family faces. They are all succumbing to the tempest that is modern life and none of them are happy. Freya toys with the idea of moving to Tasmania as a way of starting a new and less stressful life. After a short holiday on the apple isle James takes a radical step. He purchases a farm without any consultation with other family members. His decision sparks off a chain of events that has dire consequences for all family members. They discover that there is another life in a world outside of Sydney. One that on the surface may seem simplistic and stress free, but underneath it can only be what they are prepared to make of it. The author uses a simple writing style to weave a tale based on the complexities of modern living. She takes the reader on a journey many will recognize themselves taking part in. Black Cow shows how the darker side of human nature can be cured with love and understanding. I found the story held my interest from beginning to end. The plight of the characters in a majority of the scenes was relevant to what has happened so far in my own life. I am sure most readers of this book will feel the same way. Black Cow is a book that I highly recommend that lovers of tale well told read. Warren Thurston Children's writer http://www.edwardhilarybumble.comshow more
by Warren
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