Party Line, The

Orr, Sue

  18 Reviews

Gypsy Day 1972 heralds the arrival of sharemilker and widower Ian Baxter and his precocious 13-year-old daughter, to a farm on the Hauraki Plains. Gabrielle immediately strikes up a friendship with local Nickie Ward, and the girls in their innocence and outrage end up at odds with their community which seems determined to turn a blind eye to the trauma unfolding in its midst.

This vivid, compelling portrait of New Zealand rural life is also a coming-of-age story recalling the morals and values of our not-so-distant past. [Larger font]



DRUM 001
Mixed reaction to the book. Very good discussion. Most of our members are country people and thought ( in some cases) that it was a bit "close to the bone". Clever title 'The Party Line", as we thought people had to "toe the party line".
Loved this book a lot, a slice of rural life we can identify with. A comment from a migrant to N.Z. was that all migrants need to read this book to 'get' the Kiwi psyche.
NEWP 022
Lots of memories shared during our discussion. Several members felt it ended abruptly and did not like that some people were forgotten.
This book was an easy read which everyone enjoyed. Some members of the group felt that some of the characters and storylines were not very plausible, and that the author could have done this better. All agreed it took them down memory lane to life in the 70s in rural New Zealand. It created much discussion as to the attitude changes over the years to domestic abuse and society's attitude to it.
Everyone enjoyed this book, and there was a lot of discussion about the area which is familiar to us all.
CHCH 449
An interesting insight into NZ of a few years ago. This invited some discussion on personal backgrounds, especially for those with farming and party line experience. We weren't excited about the style of writing and there were some anomalies with the narrative.
CHCH 355
Well-written and thought provoking book.
We enjoyed the New Zealand setting and related to the period the book is set in very strongly. The theme of abusive relationships was a basis for a good discussion. Several of the group were disappointed by the way the book ended, feeling that the story of Ian and Gabrielle needed more completion.
ASHB 016
Bar one we all loved this book. Great to read a NZ book and we are all old enough to remember some of the events referred to and the way it was. Most of us grew up with party lines so lots of laughs about those! Times have certainly changed. We thought the ending was strange though and quite feeble compared with the rest of the story - a bit of a fizzer. And what did happen with Gabrielle and her Dad One lady had been in this type of situation (not the bad stuff) but share milking in an isolated area and having to work with bobby calves so it was all very real to her. Was easy to read.
NEWP 014
What a slice of NZ life. Entertaining, easy to read and very popular.
This was our group's favourite book of the year. The story was relatable and multi-layered and fascinating. Loved it!
AUCK 174
Lots of good discussion. We enjoyed reading a book set in both a time and place familiar to us. Thought provoking - especially around changes in beliefs and attitudes towards women and abuse since the time of the book's setting.
This brought back memories of party lines, and bobby calves crammed into crates, for most of us. We were frustrated that Ian and Gabrielle were dropped from the story and we made up stories about 'what happened next' to them! Very thought provoking.
AUCK 331
All agreed it was an easy read (not amazing writing) and we enjoyed the NZ context, and the memories of the life that was. It captured the time well.
CHCH 145
An excellent book. A clever and perceptive thought-provoking analysis of the seventies, revisited by Nicola returning in the 21st century - looking at the social taboos, denial of abuse and tragic circumstances.
GORE 006
An interesting story but we didn't like the way it jumped around time wise.
HAVE 008
A complex and revealing story of the small-mindedness of a small country community and its antagonism to anyone who is threatening to 'rock the boat', or failing to conform to its unspoken rules... Boundaries have been set and anyone not adhering to them is ostracised.
AUCK 058
The group all thought the evocation of country life in 1970s New Zealand was skilfully done. Several of the group remembered party lines and had some stories of their own. All thought it was well written and that it held their attention! A number thought the overall feeling was bleak rather than upbeat.