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The Fence by [Jaffe, Meredith]
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The Fence Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Length: 284 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

"Not a word is wasted. Jaffé's humour is sly and unerringly finds its mark." Country Style

"I promise you one thing, young lady. Building a fence is not going to keep the world out and won't keep your children in. Life's not that simple."

Gwen Hill adores Green Valley Avenue. Here she has built friendships, raised her children and nurtured a thriving garden. So when the house next door is sold, Gwen wonders how the new family will settle into this cosy community.

Francesca Desmarchelliers has high hopes for the house on Green Valley Avenue. More than a new home, it's a clean slate for Frankie, who has moved her brood in a bid to save her marriage.

To maintain her privacy and corral her wandering children, Frankie proposes a fence between the properties, destroying Gwen's picture-perfect front yard.

To Gwen, this is an act of war.

Soon the neighbours are in an escalating battle about more than just council approvals, where boundaries aren't the only things at stake.

MORE PRAISE FOR THE FENCE

"Meredith Jaffe's wicked sense of humor blooms in the fertile compost of domestic discord. ... A mischievous treat for anyone who has ever had tricky neighbours. A welcome new talent. " Caroline Baum, Editorial Director, Booktopia

"A keenly observed satire on the boundaries we set. Good fences make good neighbours. Or do they?" Wendy Harmer

"reminiscent of the fiction of Liane Moriarty ... an engaging and satirical novel about the struggle of whether to preserve the past or look to the future." Bookseller+Publisher


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 812 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Australia (30 August 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01H6GKDWK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,048 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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This easy read is about the relationship between couples and their neighbours. Interesting if you've ever had a dispute with a neighbour. I really enjoyed the monthly gardening hints.
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Imagine that you have lived next door to your best friend for decades, have shared countless cups of tea and glasses of wine, have raised each other’s children and moaned about each other’s husbands. You cried on her shoulder when you lost yet another baby and in turn tended to your friend’s garden as lovingly as your own. Your doors where always open for each other, and your children were free to roam the neighbourhood, safe under the umbrella of a large network of close neighbours. But your best friend has just died, the house has been sold, and strangers are moving in next door. Strangers whose children have names like Silver, Amber, Buttercup and Bijoux, with a double-barrel surname nobody can spell or pronounce. Children whose first action is to pick the flowers you have lovingly watered and tended, and let lose their two mutts who defecate all over your garden. And worst of all, the new neighbours demand that a fence be built between their house and yours, which means cutting down the line of trees you have planted for your old friend as an informal boundary line. For Gwen, this is the worst insult of all. “But I promise you one thing, young lady. Building a fence is not going to keep the world out and won’t keep your children in. Life is not that simple.” Thus starts Jaffe’s new satirical novel The Fence, set in one of Sydney’s leafy neighbourhoods whose peace is forever shattered by the neighbourhood feud soon to ensue.

I truly loved this book, and it is one of my favourite Australian reads of the year! With her astute observations and skilful characterisations, Jaffe presents a refreshing new voice in Australian contemporary fiction, and one I look forward to reading a lot more from in future.
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The world described in Meredith Jaffe’s debut novel is small but potent in its sharp observation of suburban disputes. 'The Fence' is concerned with the inner lives of two neighbouring families on Sydney’s north shore: an elderly couple, Gwen and Eric Hill, who have lived on the same street for several decades and who are none too pleased when a younger couple, Brandon Boyd and Francesca Desmarchelliers, move in with their four young children and two boisterous dogs.

Desmarchelliers is a workaholic account director who is defined by her career. She views motherhood as a job to be outsourced to her hipster husband. His ego, in turn, has been driven into the ground by her demanding, stubborn personality, as well as the fact he has had to leave behind his friends in the inner city to become the primary caregiver in a suburban desert.

Gwen Hill is a busybody with a monthly gardening column and plenty of time to stickybeak into the lives of their new neighbours. Her handyman husband is not quite feeling himself of late and seems to be becoming awfully forgetful. It’s a compelling set-up for conflict, and with so few characters populating its pages, 'The Fence' hums with intrigue and humour.

Neither party is particularly fond of the other from their first meeting, and it’s the threat of a fence to contain the children and dogs that proves to be the final straw. Cue council inspectors, attempted mediations, foul squabbles and multiple visits from the police.

Beneath this veneer lies an unhappy marriage, replete with infidelity, resentment and a lack of intimacy. The fence itself becomes a symbol for the misery that comes to define the lives of both couples.
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In this sharply witty and astute debut, Meredith Jaffé, well-known book critic and former editor of The Hoopla, gives new meaning to the terms “suburban bliss” and “neighbours from hell” in a novel that’s sure to have everybody talking!

We’re firstly introduced to Gwen Hill who has lived in this North Shore suburb of Sydney all her adult life. When she loses her best friend and confidante, Babs, to cancer and the house next door is sold, she holds all sorts of fears for the future.

Enter Frankie Desmarchelliers-Boyd, she of the high-flying career with a house husband, four children and two dogs, who has moved to the lush and leafy suburb in a bid to save her marriage. Frankie is determined to keep her children and animals contained (perhaps her husband too) and nosy neighbours excluded and the fact that Gwen’s beautiful Crab Apple Trees encroach on her property quickly begins to breed contempt.

It’s an unfortunate situation that they soon find themselves in and what ensues is a battle of the generations where the older is grieving for what has been lost and the younger is determined to live life and raise her children her way.

Written in third person, from the perspectives of Gwen and Frankie and interspersed with Gwen’s newspaper column which adds some gardening flavor (with a hint of what is to come in the story), along with snippets of Eric’s and Brandon’s points of view, it’s this style of writing that has allowed Meredith to explore the motivations and frustrations of her realistic, complex and perfectly imperfect characters, thereby holding and increasing the tension throughout the story.
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