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person or book cover
Courtesy of Allen & Unwin.
y separately published work icon Foal's Bread single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2011... 2011 Foal's Bread
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The sound of horses' hooves turns hollow on the farms west of Wirri. If a man can still ride, if he hasn't totally lost the use of his legs, if he hasn't died to the part of his heart that understands such things, then he should go for a gallop. At the very least he should stand at the road by the river imagining that he's pushing a horse up the steep hill that leads to the house on the farm once known as One Tree.

'Set in hardscrabble farming country and around the country show high-jumping circuit that prevailed in rural New South Wales prior to the Second World War, Foal's Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land.

'It is a love story of impossible beauty and sadness, a chronicle of dreams 'turned inside out', and miracles that never last, framed against a world both tender and unspeakably hard. Written in luminous prose and with an aching affinity for the landscape the book describes, Foal's Bread is the work of a born writer at the height of her considerable powers. It is a stunning work of remarkable originality and power, one that confirms Gillian Mears' reputation as one of our most exciting and acclaimed writers.' (From the publisher's website.)


form y separately published work icon Foal's Bread Belinda Chayko , Australia : 2017 10434494 2017 single work film/TV


  • Dedication: For my sister Yvonne.
  • Epigraph: Lameness is the language of pain, not a disease... A lame horse will often seem full of great silence and suffering. Harold Leeney, Home Doctoring of Animals (1927).

Affiliation Notes

  • Writing Disability in Australia:

    Type of disability Lower-body paralysis.
    Type of character Primary.
    Point of view Third person.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Crows Nest, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Allen and Unwin , 2011 .
      person or book cover
      Courtesy of Allen & Unwin.
      Extent: 361p.
      Reprinted: 26 Oct 2016 Hardback ed.
      ISBN: 9781742376295 (pbk), 9781760294991
    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Atlantic Books ,
      2012 .
      image of person or book cover 4407642896110101893.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 1v.p.
      Reprinted: 2017 (ebook)
      • Published 29 March 2012.
      ISBN: 9781742378824 (pbk), 9781925575354 (ebk)

Other Formats

Works about this Work

The Horse-human Bond as Catalyst for Healing from Sexual or Domestic Abuse : Metaphors in Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread Jeri Kroll , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Writing , vol. 17 no. 1 2020; (p. 50-70)

'Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread (2011) is an award-winning Australian novel that broadens ways of conceptualising the relationship between humans and horses through metaphor, with attention to the nurturing or abuse of both humans and horses. ‘Therapeutic metaphors’ in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) suggest how the horse-human bond can act as a catalyst to promote healing from sexual abuse and domestic violence. Little research has identified this rhetorical link. Concepts such as hybridity, or the melding of identities, embodied in the mythical Centaur, a primary trope in Mears’ novel, reflects upon the sense of union discussed in horse-human bond research. This essay explores metaphoric structures in Foal’s Bread and correspondences in EFP metaphors, arguing that EFP provides an evidentiary basis for Mears’ figurative language, which demonstrates the rethinking of horse-human relationships in the context of the horse’s role in human recovery or amelioration from sexual or domestic abuse.'  (Publication abstract)



This Is It Heather Taylor Johnson , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Antipodes , June vol. 33 no. 1 2019; (p. 139-146)
(Re)claiming Barbara Baynton’s Gothic Creek : An Analysis of Gillian Mears’ Foals’ Bread and Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water Alexandra Philp , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Etropic , vol. 16 no. 2 2017;

'The creek is a threatening site for women in Barbara Baynton’s Bush Studies (1902). The female characters in her stories are routinely represented as vulnerable, drowning, or murdered at the creek, and the slippery banks and murky waters have been established by Baynton as an Australian gothic space where women (and their bodies) are denied agency. Gillian Mears and Jessie Cole are two contemporary writers who challenge Baynton’s representation of the gothic creek. The female protagonists in their most recent Australian gothic novels, Noah in Mears’ Foal’s Bread (2011) and Mema in Cole’s Deeper Water (2014), understand the creek as a subversive site that accommodates alternative female corporeal experiences. While Noah in Foal’s Bread finds body autonomy in her use of the creek as a birthing space for her firstborn child, Mema in Deeper Water experiences body empowerment in her use of the creek as a space of sexual awakening. Though the gothic creek is a fearful site for women in Baynton’s establishing Australian gothic text, Bush Studies, both Foal’s Bread and Deeper Water demonstrate that the contemporary gothic creek is able to (re)negotiated as a site of female body autonomy and empowerment.'  (Publication abstract)

Gillian Mears's Foal's Bread As a Postcolonial Pastoral Jopi Nyman , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Orbis Litterarum , October vol. 69 no. 5 2014; (p. 390–410)
'This article presents a reading of Gillian Mears's novel Foal's Bread (2011) as a postcolonial counter-pastoral that problematizes conventional mythologies of Australian identity and rethinks the relationships with humans, land, and non-humans. By challenging naturalized ways of telling stories of the relationship between humans and nature, Mears's novel deconstructs the anthropocentric and hierarchical world view promoted in the discourses of modernity and colonialism and underlines the entanglement of humans, animals, and their shared natural world. Horses, in particular, play an important role in the novel both thematically and in terms of its imagery. This essay suggests that Foal's Bread reconstructs the pastoral mode and reworks the connection between humans and the natural world from a perspective that rethinks interspecies relations and the division into human and non-human animals. In so doing the novel inserts humans into the contexts of land and landscape, making them inseparable from it, and also reconstructs the text as a form of nature.' (Publication summary)
y separately published work icon Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears : Notes Vicky Booth , Victoria : Centre for Adult Education , 2013 Z1933768 2013 single work criticism
Review of the Week Owen Richardson , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 6 November 2011; (p. 14)

— Review of Foal's Bread Gillian Mears , 2011 single work novel
[Review] Foal's Bread Heather Dyer , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , October vol. 91 no. 4 2011; (p. 26)

— Review of Foal's Bread Gillian Mears , 2011 single work novel
Well Read Katharine England , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 5 November 2011; (p. 27)

— Review of Foal's Bread Gillian Mears , 2011 single work novel
Portents Everywhere Gillian Dooley , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 336 2011; (p. 51)

— Review of Foal's Bread Gillian Mears , 2011 single work novel
Vernacular at a Gallop Helen Elliott , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 12 November 2011; (p. 26-26)

— Review of Foal's Bread Gillian Mears , 2011 single work novel
Horse Power Susan Johnson , 2011 single work biography
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 5 - 6 November 2011; (p. 24-27) The Advertiser , 5 November 2011; (p. 16-20)
Mailbox Tony Birch , 2011 single work correspondence
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 19 - 20 November 2011; (p. 11)
Interview : Gillian Mears Linda Morris , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 19-20 November 2011; (p. 30-31)
In the Company of Horses Heather Dyer (interviewer), 2011 single work interview
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , October vol. 91 no. 4 2011; (p. 32)
Ladies' Man Shortlisted Marc McEvoy , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 11 March 2012; (p. 7)
Last amended 13 Jul 2021 11:55:21