A Fabled Land: Mesopotamia Station

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Inspirational book about a famous New Zealand high-country sheep station

Subject: History
Book Setting: Canterbury
A Fabled Land: Mesopotamia Station, Bruce Ansley

The historic Mesopotamia Station is located in mid-Canterbury at the headwaters of the magnificent Rangitata gorge. ‘Mesopotamia', named by Samuel Butler in 1860, means ‘the land between two rivers': it lies between the Rangitata and Forest Creek rivers. Author Bruce Ansley has brilliantly captured the spirit of this great sheep station: from the early pioneers who first braved its harsh winters and searing summers to the ingenuity and drive of the present-day owners, the Prouting family. His description of the landscape is at once poetic and immediate and magnificent, taking the reader right to the heart of the high country.

The Mesopotamia story gives an astonishing overview of the history of the area, while the imposing power of the rivers, the hills, and the weather are ever present. In this country the mountains have as much personality and character as the members of the station's longtime owners, the Prouting family. The Rangitata River flows like a rogue throughout.

We ride the ‘curious tide of extremes' that farming embodies: the heartache, the exhilaration, the grandiose, the bombastic, the gracious, the laconic humour. This is a man's country, where the women who wish to stay have to hold their own; a country where the past is repeated and echoed in the present.

Peter Bush's photographs, taken over a 50-year period, grace Ansley's story, capturing the great musters of days gone by, the dignity of the shearing teams, the majestic country and the characters who people Mesopotamia's story.

Available Formats

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    $49.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781877460630
    Published: 05/10/2012
    Imprint: Random House NZ
    Extent: 320 pages
    Stock Level: HIGH
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Bruce Ansley

Bruce Ansley

Wild Roads: A New Zealand Journey, an epic drive around New Zealand's most dangerous, infamous, remote and remarkable roads, is Bruce Ansley's eighth book. His last book Coast: A New Zealand Journey, with photographer Jane Ussher, won best illustrated non-fiction book at the New Zealand Post Book Awards in 2014.
He has written a number of bestselling books, including Stoned on Duty, the astonishing story of an undercover cop's work and his descent into addiction; A Long Slow Affair of the Heart, a lyrical account of a canal boat trip through France which develops into a journey within a journey as the internal shifts within a marriage threaten to destroy it; and A Fabled Land, the Story of Canterbury's Famous Mesopotamia Station, with photographs by Peter Bush, is a fascinating account of life on the station founded by the novelist Samuel Butler.
His television credits include writing for A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby.
He has worked in England and New Zealand, in radio, television and newspapers, and for two decades was a writer for The New Zealand Listener before becoming a full-time author in 2007. He has won fellowships to Oxford University and Cambridge University, and a number of journalism awards.

Ansley tells stories of a New Zealand he loves. He is a keen tramper and has walked over much of the country. He has driven over all of the 60 roads in Wild Roads, some of them many times. He has lived in the four main cities, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
He was once a commercial fisherman in Fiordland and a deer farmer on Banks Peninsula. He has built a house in the far reaches of Pelorus Sound and for many years spent a good part of his life in a tiny, traditional bach in Golden Bay. He loves the water and will be found out on the water any good day in his Norwegian motor-sailer. Ansley has three sons. He and his wife Sally have moved from their beloved Christchurch to Waiheke Island to be closer to family.