ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ---- Tom Murray would rather burn down his farmhouse than hand it over to the bank when his mortgage is foreclosed. What should be a spectacular 'up-yours' act of retaliation and defiance unfortunately turns into accidental suicide… His wife, while struggling with the anger at his stupidity and the grief of his loss, decides to take his body to be buried in a Melbourne cemetery - by horse and cart.
As the funeral procession winds its way across the state, losing and gathering participants, the Murray's twin children Jack and Jenny are involved in the whole circus. But as the cortege wends its way through rural towns, an arsonist also seems to be following, who is taking revenge on the banks who are held responsible for the circumstances the struggling farmers are suffering.
A tragi-comedy of a story, reflecting the stoicism of country folk who are pushed to the extreme, but also full of life and dry humour and great heart. Lindy Jones
The winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize, Taking Tom Murray Home is a funny, moving, bittersweet Australian story of fires, families and the restorative power of community.
Bankrupt dairy farmer Tom Murray decides he'd rather sell off his herd and burn down his own house than hand them over to the bank. But something goes tragically wrong, and Tom dies in the blaze. His wife, Dawn, doesn't want him to have died for nothing and decides to hold a funeral procession for Tom as a protest, driving 350 kilometres from Yardley in country Victoria to bury him in Melbourne where he was born. To make a bigger impact she agrees with some neighbours to put his coffin on a horse and cart and take it slow - real slow.
But on the night of their departure, someone burns down the local bank. And as the motley funeral procession passes through Victoria, there are more mysterious arson attacks. Dawn has five days to get to Melbourne. Five days, five more towns, and a state ready to explode in flames ...
Told with a laconic, deadpan wit, Taking Tom Murray Home is a timely, thought-provoking, heart-warming, quintessentially Australian story like no other. It's a novel about grief, pain, anger and loss, yes, but it's also about hope - and how community, friends and love trump pain and anger, every time.
"With characters you'll love and who will make you simultaneously laugh and cry, Slee weaves a bittersweet, hilarious and touching story that is sure to find its place as an Australian classic." Better Reading
"An absolute ripper of a story... with a madcap cast of characters including farmers, hippies and lots of cops, with moments so funny I had to put the book down to laugh." Adelaide Advertiser
"It has all the elements of good storytelling, grounded in a clear-eyed understanding of how and why rural Australia is struggling in the 21st century." Sydney Morning Herald