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Book: The Ballot Farm by Lily Ennis

Book Review: The Ballot Farm by Lily Ennis

categories: Book, History, Romance, New Zealand, Raetihi, Whanganui, Returned Soldiers, Settlement Act, Mangaparua, Ohakune, Timber Mills, Fire in Raetihi, Syphillis, Historical Fiction




Lily Ennis

Author Lily Ennisabout this book: This book is about some soldiers who took up land during and after WWI in the back blocks of New Zealand bush country. The government decided to create more farms to feed mother England. But the land they chose was marginal to dismal. We follow the struggle of broken soldiers trying to make a good life for their new families.

Life was insanely difficult. It was difficult to see how it was possible to make a farm on steep soft land that was prone to subsidence. George and Catherine learn quickly the benefit of community and in this remote setting community becomes family. No one family can exist in isolation.

The story is as much about the women who had to deal with husbands with post traumatic shock syndrome, the never-ending pregnancies and the pining for the homes and families they left behind.

The research for this book was fascinating. The region was famous one hundred years ago for its timber mills, a massive fire affected many of them. Archived newspapers provided plenty of information on the politics of the day. The soldier settlers had one independent politician on their side but one voice was not enough. The rise of women candidates for election also features.

I was inspired to write this book when I cycled the Mountains to Sea trail in the summer of 2018. I passed dilapidated shacks, mighty macrocarpa trees and hand-hewn fence posts. Then I started thinking about the folk who had made their homes there. Thus, a book was born.


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Other books by Lily Ennis

Blue Rider by Lily Ennis
Scarlet Runner by Lily Ennis
Seaton\'s War by Lily Ennis
Fire in the Mountain by Lily Ennis



 Tells about an important time in NZ history

I loved this book because the story reflected how life would have been for many of our NZ men on return from war, who with the support of strong women took on new challenges to create a different livelihood than they had probably expected before they went to war. The descriptions of time and place are excellent. [by Sarah]


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