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Taking Tom Murray Home

Taking Tom Murray Home 1

by Tim Slee

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 22/07/2019

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $32.99 $20.35

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.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):
Tim Slee

Tim Slee is an Australian journalist with a wanderlust. Born in Papua New Guinea to Australian parents who sprang from sheep country in the Mid-North and Far North of South Australia, he worked for several years for the Stock Journal in Adelaide before moving to Canberra and then Sydney where he worked for the Attorney General's Department. Since then he has lived in Denmark, Canada, Australia and is currently on contract in Denmark again with a multinational pharmaceutical company. Although, according to his favourite airline, he has been around the world with them 22 times and visited 54 countries, Australia is still his physical and emotional home base. Taking Tom Murray Home is his first novel, and the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Funny, topical and moving, this is a truly enterta

    by on

    Taking Tom Murray Home is the debut novel by prize-winning Australian author, Tim Slee. Dairy farmer, Tom Murray had reached the end of his tether. The supermarkets had screwed down the price of milk so much that, despite all their hard work, the farm he ran with Dawn, Lazy Bones Dairy had become unviable. The bank wanted to take the house. Tom wasn’t going to allow that. They cleared out their belongings and, Dawn and the kids safely away, Tom set the place on fire.

    But things didn’t quite go to plan: Tom didn’t make it out. Now Dawn is a widow and the twins, Jack and Jenny are fatherless. And they’re homeless. But Yardley being the typical Victorian country town, everyone pitches in to help. And, prompted by farmer/footie coach, Don Aloisi, Dawn decides that Tom’s death will not be in vain.

    Dawn feels Tom should be buried in Carlton, where he was from, but the funeral procession will be a statement: something that will give Maximum Exposure to the plight of dairy farmers. John Garrett offers his Clydesdale, Danny Boy, and his milk cart for transporting the coffin in a funeral procession that rapidly becomes a days-long convoy. Townspeople tag along; coverage on social media, and later by mainstream media, ensures that people along the route cheer them on.

    But as they travel, it seems someone is taking Direct Action: banks and supermarkets in the towns they travel through are being fire-bombed. Geraldine from the Geelong Advertiser smells a good story and the core group is wary, but she is welcomed when she reveals her father and brother are dairy farmers. From Portland, Karsi (Senior Sergeant Hussein Karsioglu) tries to maintain a balance between keeping order and helping the cause.

    Jack tries in earnest to convince Karsi that his father had been murdered by the bank man, while Jenny is not even convinced her father is dead. But as they proceed, Jack’s conversations with accompanying townsfolk lead him to a quite different theory about what has been happening. Jenny, meanwhile, busies herself with a Go Fund Me page for funeral costs.

    What a charming tale Slee gives the reader. The townspeople are a little quirky yet entirely believable, familiar in any country town, full of care and support for each other. Jack and Jenny have a special place in the hearts of the community, with their strange, shared condition, Dorotea’s Analgesia. The dialogue is a delight, and many of the characters offer wise words as well as dry humour. It’s difficult not to chuckle and even laugh out loud at their antics.

    There’s very much a Jasper Jones/Craig Silvey feel to Jack’s account; his voice is genuine and guileless. The Bolinda audio version is brilliantly read by Stig Wemyss, who bestows on this tale the same wonderful expressiveness and vocal quality that he gives his narration of Boy Swallows Universe; his voice is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Funny, topical and moving, this is a truly entertaining read.