The Farmer's Wife and the Farmer
This beautiful book, by John McLean, is presented in both painting and allegorical novel form, where the message is delivered in those two forms through a single artist/writer. This is a unique feature and contrasts with a novelist’s interpretation by an illustrator.
Constance enters the valley with her friend Polly, where she meets and marries a hard-muscled farmer with generations of forebears who have ingrained in him the demands of his land. The hardships of her isolated life suck the spirit from Constance until she finds escape on the back of a white horse, in the company of a traveller. Her abandoned husband, pressed beyond his limits by grief, finds solace and direction in both the innocent wisdom of a housekeeper’s daughter and the ceremonial offerings of a grizzled kaumatua.
Thus begins an epic journey for both the farmer and the farmer’s wife. Transformational encounters are made with a lost tribe; a blind boatman and his sighted twin boatman brother; a mute who speaks through his accordion, among others. Independently the farmer and his wife undertake sea voyages that bring them together, yet apart, in a community whose ethos is harmony and balance.
The archetypal nature of this story matches perfectly with the elemental figures of the characters, as depicted by the author. Both constituents draw the reader magically into their worlds, and keep them there long after they have finished reading the narrative.