The Riders by Tim Winton


Audiobook. Once again the storyteller makes it happen.  I don’t know how he can make characters come alive in so few words.

Scully is a hardworking, rough-looking Australian who has landed in Ireland, after traveling throughout Europe for several years with his wife and 5 year old daughter, Billie.  She was a University trained ambitious bureaucrat who married a good-hearted working-class fellow.  Jennifer whimsically bought a wreck of a house in Ireland, a house older than his country, Scully says. While Jennifer and Billie go back to Australia to liquidate their assets, Scully sets about making the house livable. The night before they are to return to Ireland, Scully walks to the ruin of a castle near the house and sees the riders, ghostly soldiers from another time who do not see him.

His real nightmare begins when Billy arrives at the airport alone, unable to utter a word.  Scully begins to unravel at this point, and drags her all over Europe with almost no money looking for his wife, putting his beloved Billie in terrible danger time after time, unable to make rational decisions.  Billie begins to emerge from her own trauma, but cannot think about what her mother has done.  While they are in Paris, she begins to see Scully as Quasimodo (this kid has a comic book version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame ) as he careens around hurting himself most of all. She becomes his caretaker.  Scully cannot figure out what happened; all he knows is that he did not know Jennifer and all his assumptions about their life together were questionable.  After traveling to Greece, landing in Brindisi and traveling across Italy by train to Paris, and eventually to Amsterdam, they finally return to Ireland.  As he always does so wonderfully, Winton brings to life of all these locations.

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