Admit it or not, modern urban life has stresses that keep piling up on the middle class workers till life reaches a breaking point. One big, visible indicator of such a situation is loss of peace and relationships getting vulnerable to the point of breaking down. Australian author Magdalena Ball explores this issue in her latest novel Black Cow (Bewrite Books, 2012) through the story of a James and Freya, a married couple living in Sydney and increasingly feeling the pressure of work and home responsibilities hammering on their marriage and sanity.
While Magdalena Ball’s earlier novel Sleep beforeEvening was focused more on personal journey of a teenager through the trials of growing up, Black Cow is more about a conscious revision of values and improvement of lifestyle by letting go of the choices – place, work, and living – dragged along for meeting the demands of urban living, and returning instead to a simpler life in a rural community where surviving takes different tools and happiness has a more satisfying meaning.
Perhaps the greatest significance of this book lies in showing the true nature of success – something that has been so pervasively confused with and thrust under earning more and keeping people pleased at the cost of one’s own happiness. Against the rampant consumerism, the protagonists of the novel decide to try life in sustainable terms, to be satisfied with what they got. In one of the chapters near the end of the novel, Freya makes the point expressly – “where you live doesn’t have to determine how you live.”
Black Cow is a novel which has food for thought for all people whose lives and relationships are stressed. This book can show them where their problem lies and how to solve it best.