Memoir | Action-Adventure | Humour

Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker, Review: Refreshing humour

Apple Island Wife: Slow Living in Tasmania is the delightful first memoir from Fiona Stocker, escaped Brit turned Tassie farm owner and freelance writer.

Apple Island Wife, Fiona Stocker - Slow Living in TasmaniaApple Island Wife Synopsis

Slow Living in Tasmania

What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who’s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigour mortise?

In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt. Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.

This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman’s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

(Unbound, December 2018)

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BOOK REVIEW

It is quite rare for me to read memoirs, but I am so glad I took a chance on this delightful book from Fiona Stocker. Do not for one-minute be put off by ‘Wife’ being in the title. Spoiler alert: They have alpacas, but Fiona has no intention of learning to knit – enough said.

The observations and life moments Stocker candidly shares in Apple Island Wife are ones we can all engage with on some level. Despite living in suburbia, we had a septic tank in our backyard when I was very young – did you? And we all remember that kindergarten or school excursion involving suspect tractor-trailer rides and the perils of petting farmyard animals.

The train ride drew to a bone-rattling stop and we prised ourselves from the carriages.

Touring the farm on foot, we stopped by some rickety old sheds, where the children were invited to stroke a miniature pony. ‘Watch out fer the electric fence!’ warned our guide, finding her voice now she no longer had to concentrate on the driving. I looked at the stretch of wire, strung at exactly the height of a toddler and separating the eager crowd from the object of its intentions. On the other side, the miniature pony waited patiently for us to find a solution to this dilemma. It wasn’t long in coming. One by one, each mother hefted her child into mid-air and held them poised horizontally over the wire. The child held its little hands out as the pony obligingly lifted its muzzle for stroking.

Refreshing humour

But back to those alpacas they acquired (or the alpacas that acquired them) and more circuitously, some of the hilarious yarns Stocker tells of her family’s experiences with them… Boy, does this lady have an endearing sense of humour. A woman to my own heart, this pragmatist calls a spade a spade. But, her often dryly humorous and irreverent observations avoid the soapbox or negative introspection.

Apple Island Wife - Fiona Stocker Memoir

Stocker’s roll-with-it attitude and honest acceptance of her own and others’ failings is refreshing. Also refreshing, is her conversational prose and the opportunity to see things we Aussies sometimes take for granted from a fresh perspective.

Her deep affection and respect for those that often serve as catalysts for humour, her family and friends (human and animal) and adopted home, warms every page of Apple Island Wife.

I came to know these sights, the expanses of the sky, each majestic roadside gum tree, the dip in the landscape where rocks broke through the earth. They were like old friends, always familiar, and always changing… Such is way the place we live ingrains itself in us and becomes our home.

If you are looking for a relaxing weekend read with a positive outlook, Fiona Stocker’s Apple Island Wife is highly recommended.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Genre: Memoir, Humour, Adventure

About the Author, Fiona Stocker

Fiona Stocker is an English writer living in Tasmania, Australia. Although born in Adelaide, she was raised in England. After graduating in the arts, she worked in London and Brisbane in the fields of theatre, advertising, education and recruitment. A circuitous route, sense of adventure and aversion to proper paid employment took her to Tasmania in 2006, where she and her husband established a small farm, food and agri-tourism business, Langdale Farm. The couple raise Berkshire pigs and produce premium pork products sold at an award-winning farmers’ market and providores across northern Tasmania. They host visitors in a converted studio at the farm for eco-luxe farm-stay accommodation and generally try to live the dream.

Besides partnering in the farm business, Fiona works as a writer and editor on books, e-books and online material and writes feature articles for lifestyle magazines. Her book A Place in the Stockyard, commissioned by Tasmanian Women in Agriculture, commemorating their history and featuring many personal stories of their members, was published in 2016. She is on the Board of the Tamar Valley Farmgate Festival, which launched in 2017, and the Tamar Valley Writers’ Festival, both of which have funding from Events Tasmania. She was a judge of the Tasmanian Short Story Writers’ Competition of 2017, with shortlisted entries compiled in an anthology to be launched at the Hobart Writers’ Festival.

Fiona Stocker blogs as Apple Island Wife and you can find her social media under that name too.

* My receiving a copy from the author for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.