Book Review: “City Girl, Country Girl” by Liz Harfull (@LizHarfull #AWW2017)

 

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The subtitle of Liz Harfull’s highly informing book City Girl, Country Girl (Allen & Unwin, 2016) is “the inspiring true stories of courageous women forging new lives in the Australian bush”. These stories are testimonies of courage, resilience and hope, but they are also interpretations of love, of what women can and will do to pursue happiness and fulfilment and that of their families.

The women whose life stories are told in this book came from cities and other countries to establish a new life in rural Australia. From “Ten Pound Poms” to survivors of religious and political conflicts, from fearless pioneers “going bush” to city dwellers in search for new careers and horizons – these women have done much more than learning how to milk a cow or drive a tractor. Indeed, they have migrated not only across lands and/or oceans but also between cultures, and are therefore role models of how to adopt, adapt and adjust, tackling hardships while turning life’s obstacles into wonderful opportunities.

Harfull’s farming background enables her to tell, with considerable grace, passion and empathy, “the stories of regional Australia, its people, communities, history and traditions”. In fact, City Girl, Country Girl is a valuable book not only because of the author’s emphasis on the interrelation between personal growth and community development, but also because of her insight into Australia’s regional and rural communities as living, breathing and ever-evolving entities. In the same way that no one is an island, no community is isolated as it continues to balance the pros and cons of modernity. By illustrating the challenges faced and achievements made by individuals in their relocation and transformation, Harfull gives us a myriad of documentaries – social and cultural biographies of communities across this Great Southern Land – that combine to tell the survival story of Australia as a multicultural society.

Those who dream of making a simple “tree change” after reading various rural romance novels and/or watching The Farmer Wants a Wife will find none of those “stylised, romantic visions” of the Australian Outback in this book. Instead, I would argue the focus of this book is on Womanhood. Women who aspire, women who endure, women who persist, women who survive. Whatever their geographical, ethnic, social and cultural background is, City Girl, Country Girl is an excellent book for women who dare to make a difference.

More details about Liz Harfull’s City Girl, Country Girl can be found here.

 

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