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Set over ten tumultuous months in 1945, The Woolgrower's Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight against all odds, and a sweeping tribute to Australia's landscape and its people.

‘A wonderful new voice in literary rural fiction' Australian Women's Weekly

Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family’s sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But with her father succumbing to wounds he’s borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate’s shoulders.

With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower’s Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too - especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.

Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.

‘A heart-breaking tale beautifully told . . . This compelling story of war and love, of family and prejudice is magical’ Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help

‘This sweeping epic set in rural NSW is about love, family and testing our mettle – and it’s compulsively readable. Just the thing for those lazy summer days’ Marie Claire


Joy Rhoades is a skilful writer who draws reader in with a story that twists and turns.

Weekly Times

A novel about endurance and a stubborn will to survive, it is written with passion and intensity that is hugely attractive.

Elizabeth Buchan

Fascinating debut novel.

Red Magazine

Joy Rhoades’ Kate Dowd is Elizabeth-Bennet-meets-The-Drover’s-Wife . . . an accomplished debut.

The Saturday Age

A story of survival and forbidden love, this hooks you in from the atmospheric first pages, and will have you rooting for the feisty heroine.

Sunday Mirror (UK)

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 19, 2018

    Bantam Australia

    RRP $26.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Trade Paperback


    February 27, 2017

    Bantam Australia

    416 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    February 27, 2017

    RHA eBooks Adult

    400 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ


Longhope Railway Station, New South Wales
10 January 1945

The train carrying the prisoners of war was overdue. Kate sheltered in the shade of the station shed, wary, and watchful of her father, who stood along the tracks with the other graziers. Beyond them, pepperina trees flanked the road. The train tracks ran on across the valley bed with its handful of myalls and eucalypt gums, climbed up into the low hills at the edge of the tablelands and disappeared in a glint of summer heat on the southern horizon.

With her gloved hand Kate brushed away a fly. A drop of sweat ran between her shoulder blades and caught at the waist of her good frock, the wool crepe prickly and damp. Her father had asked Kate to come with him today and she’d worn her pink striped dress when he’d asked, her pearls too: it was easier to do as he said. But she felt like a barber’s pole in the dress.

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Book Clubs
Companion Notes

Share Joy Rhoades’ heart-breaking story of love, prejudice and war.

The Emergence of Story

Joy Rhoades on the research behind The Woolgrower’s Companion.

Book List
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