Review of The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

The FarmThe Farm by Tom Rob Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had a copy of The Farm sitting on my bookshelf, bought in 2015 at a Perth Writers Festival, and that was before Covid-19, when we had the privilege of talented, international guests. I sailed through this book, a good page turner, not knowing what the outcome or who was telling the truth in this family, Tilde or her husband Chris. I’m so grateful to the author for publishing this book, I haven’t read any of his others, but I think it’s a very delicate, suspenseful story, another #MeToo narrative about hidden abuse. The author slowly unravels the story of Tilde as a mother, wife and stoic, expat from Sweden. I won’t reveal a spoiler as the novel is what’s known as “open ended.” The reader has to guess or make up their mind about what happens next to a woman who is mentally unstable. In hindsight looking back from 2021 we realise it’s because of trauma. If I had read this book back in 2015, I might have reviewed it differently, ie spruking unreliable narrator, little action, and basically a one-sided, one character point-of-view. However, since we have now come to realise that mental and physical abuse, inflicted by many perpetrators, has been rife in our society, we can no longer look at a woman and call her ‘mad, insane, off the raiis, or living a different reality’. We know in our society there has been a terrible injustice to victims of abuse, we know there has been little inaction in relation to mental health as a medical priority. When we get to the end of The Farm , we know why this story was written.

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