Whelehan, I and Pini, B, Farm lit: Reading narratives of love on the land, Cultural Sustainability in Rural Communities: Rethinking Australian Country Towns, Routledge, C Driscoll, K Darian-Smith, and D Nichols (ed), London, United Kingdom, pp. 68. ISBN 978-1-4724-6864-2 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]
Copyright 2017 selection and editorial matter, Catherine Driscoll, Kate Darian-Smith and David Nichols; individual chapters, the contributors
Memoirs set in the rural environment have a long history in Australia. More recently, though, a genre of popular accounts, written by women and describing their move to country settings from the city, has been identiﬁed and labelled ‘farm lit’, rural romance or ‘chook lit’. The ‘lit’ appended to ‘farm’ and ‘chook’ marks typological connections to chick lit, a genre that charts the romantic tribulations of contemporary single urban women in a comedic manner. In this chapter, we analyse Out of the Blue by Joanna Fincham (2013), Educating Alice by Alice Greenup (2013) and Love in the Outback by Deb Hunt (2014) to argue that such texts provide important insights into the ways contemporary rural social life is lived and imagined. These three texts are all memoirs, but they ﬁt snugly within the rural romance genre because they are about ﬁnding romance in unlikely places. These particular texts have been chosen for analysis because they are recent examples of rural romance memoirs which also demonstrate some of the diversity within the genre in terms of the age, education, background and experience of their authors. While the lines between memoir and the novel are often blurred, and it is indeed the case that these examples can be seen to borrow tropes from their ﬁctional counterparts, they are based on the lived experiences of each author. A romance lies at the spine of the narrative, underpinned by rousing stories of personal growth, tribulation and healing. The urban environment in each memoir is that which must be left behind, sometimes with regret; but the move to the country is always presented as a cleansing experience, signifying a reframing of life priorities.