Building Community11 Mar 2019

Fremantle Press Book of the Month: “The Valley” by Steve Hawke

Armelle Davies is the recipient of the inaugural Minderoo Foundation Editorship at Fremantle Press, a WA publishing house who support and champion uniquely Australian stories. Armelle recommends and reviews a book for Minderoo Foundation every month.

“The Valley” by Steve Hawke. Photo Credit: Fremantle Press.

A murder in the remote bush in 1916 sparks a chain of events that will haunt a family for generations. Hidden in the refuge of a secret valley, their tiny community lives unknown to the world. When, a century later, Broome schoolboy Dancer falls foul of the local bikie gang, he and his father head up the Gibb River Road. Here, in a maze of rugged ranges and remote communities, Dancer begins to unravel the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of Milly Rider, the mother he never knew. But the valley hides its secrets well. As Dancer learns the ways of his mother’s country, he uncovers a precious inheritance – one not even those closest to Milly expected to find.

“The Valley deftly disentangles the accumulated driftwood of secrets, lies and fragmentary memory to reveal the redemptive power of coming to terms with our past. Steve Hawke draws us into a world that is respectfully and honestly grounded in decades of living in the Kimberley and working with Aboriginal communities, and in his own unique voice and humanity.” Stephen Kinnane

The Valley heralds the arrival of a major talent of Australian fiction. It is a mystery story, an uplifting intergenerational tale, and a captivating look into a little known world where things aren’t always what they seem.

Steve Hawke grew up in Melbourne but found his way to the Northern Territory and then to the Kimberley as a nineteen-year-old in 1978. Captivated by the country, the history and the people, he stayed for almost fifteen years working for Aboriginal communities and organisations.

He now lives in the hills outside Perth, but continues his strong association with the Kimberley, returning most years. His writings on the Kimberley includes Noonkanbah: Whose Land, Whose Law (1989), the children’s novel Barefoot Kids (2007), the play Jandamarra that premiered at the Perth International Arts Festival in 2008 and toured the Kimberley in 2011, and A Town Is Born: The Fitzroy Crossing Story (2013). The Valley is his first novel for adults.

Review of The Valley by Armelle Davies

“I first read this book last year as part of my internship with Fremantle Press, and I absolutely loved it. I’m pretty sure I read the whole thing in one day! It was very evocative of the dramatic Kimberley landscapes and showed how life has changed for Aboriginal people in that region over the last hundred years. But what I loved best about it was what it said about family. From the absence of Dancer’s mother and his connection with his grandfather, through to the actions of his great-grandfather, Hawke explores how our family history shapes us in ways that we cannot always understand until we trace our roots. It’s very readable and the ending is very emotional – I cried as I was reading it in the office!”

Read more about The Valley here.

Megan Wallis
by Megan Wallis
Megan has been the Partnerships Co-Ordinator in the Building Community portfolio since August 2018. Her role encompasses Arts and Culture, Community and Environment, Early Childhood and the Forrest Research Foundation. Megan has a Commerce Degree in Tourism Management and previously worked in the tourism sector.
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