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In this sensual, witty, and startlingly original first novel, Jean Finnegan searches for her place in a tumultuous world wracked by the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. Carrie Tiffany captures the frailty and beauty of the human condition and vividly evokes the hope and disappointment of an era.
Billowing dust and information, the government "Better Farming Train" slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing advice to the people living on the land. The train is staffed by irresistibly eccentric agricultural and domestic experts, from Sister Crock, the prim head of "women's subjects," to Mr. Ohno, the Japanese chicken specialist, to Robert Pettergree, a scientist with an unusual taste for soil. Amid the swaying cars full of cows, pigs, and wheat, a strange and swift seduction occurs between Robert and Jean. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism they settle in the impoverished Mallee farmland with the ambition of transforming the land through science.
In luminous prose, Tiffany writes about the challenges of farming, the character of small towns, the stark and terrifying beauty of the Australian landscape, and the fragile relationships among man, science, and nature. Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living is a passionate and heartbreaking novel from an astonishing new writer.