Saturday, July 26, 2008


At last weekend's annual conference of Booksellers New Zealand booksellers voted The Road to Castle Hill as their choice for book of the year.
Farmer, author, human dynamo Christine Fernyhough has kindly allowed The Bookman to reproduce her acceptance speech on the blog. Here it is for your entertainment:
How absolutely fantastic! Yeah! Thank you all so very much – without you, your work – daily – so often 7 days a week, your enthusiasm and your delight in The Road to Castle Hill - a High Country love story – perhaps we all love - love! John, Louise, Nicky and I would not be smiling from ear to ear.

I feel like I have just run up the drafting race of life and instead of being culled for my limp and my teeth I have been drafted to the right – top mob, best feed, a winner – guaranteed to free range the tussock block, to enjoy the best ram on Father’s Day.
The business of farming is capturing, packaging and selling sunlight.
And here I am being presumptive – the business of Bookselling is capturing, packaging and selling dreams.
You sure sold my dreams – it was you and your staff who have answered the many questions, it was you who gave the book prime display space, it was you who enabled us to be right on the top of the best sellers list almost from the very first day - when we knocked Tana off - he took his eyes off the ball - only to be knocked off temporarily by the Road Code when all Kiwi schools bought their year supply and then more permanently, in May, by Ian Wishart’s Absolute Power!

From the extraordinary sales, the result of your work – nearly 23,000 copies have been sold since October – it is a beautiful book, exquisite photography by John and beautifully published by Random. From the many hundreds of letters I have received, the book sure touched a chord – maybe it was the honesty in the way I talked about my loves and losses, of my mistakes, my loneliness, of life being short but also long, of my reinvention along the way, of following dreams of giving things/life a go.
Particularly moving are the letters from chaps, some farmers, some not, some nearing the end of the lives, others still seeking – these blokes talked of never reading a book or not from cover to cover and not three times before – they loved The Road to Castle Hill and many put it in the same category as Mona Anderson’s A River Rules my Life or Lady Barker’s Station Life in New Zealand. Maybe The Road to Castle Hill will become a classic – certainly with so much of the High Country going into the Department of Conservation Estate – DOC now owns over 50% of the South Island and with that change goes the iconic High Country Merino Stations – the environment we kiwis hold dear to our hearts.

Winning this award reinforces to those many ‘I don’t read books through’ that their choice of book was wise which in turn will encourage them to buy and to read more. Some tell me that they were 106 on the list at the Library – that there are still 100 on the waiting list – that because of fading eyesight they never got through the book before their turn was over. That their Retirement Village needs to buy more copies. Perhaps the Gold Card could be extended to allow senior citizens special discounts on books.

I still love each day – we are still waiting for the lamb schedule to rise. We didn’t have the top pen at the High Country calf sale this year – we have bought a Run Off Block – a run off with your money block and instead we bought in calves. Snow continues to be a stock star – we have just scanned 98% in our cows, the ewes get scanned on August 12th. Merino wool goes from strength to strength as buyers luxuriate in its texture, its properties.

Will John and I continue to grow in our love for each other – I hope so – do you know what - we got married on April 19th at the conclusion of our annual Castle Hill Dog Trials. What with crushed legs, run off with your money blocks and getting married there is plenty for a sequel!

Thank you again for awarding us the New Zealand Booksellers’ Choice for 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Christine Fernyhough for sharing your High country world with so many. Less land to DoC and more to maintain an awesome heritage I say!