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It is 1943; billowing dust and information, the government 'Better Farming Train' slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing expert advice to those living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science holds the answers and that productivity is patriotic. Amongst the swaying cars full of cows, pigs and wheat, an unlikely seduction occurs between Robert Pettergree, a man with an unusual taste for soil, and Jean Finnegan, a talented young seamstress with a hunger for knowledge. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism they settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that science can transform the land. Shot through with humour and a quiet wisdom, this haunting first novel evokes the Australian landscape in all its vivid beauty and probes the fragile relationships between man, science and nature.
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