Jackie Parry’s new memoir, A Standard Journey, is a hauntingly beautiful book, one that will stick with readers for a long time.
Parry and her husband, Noel, sold their possessions and invested all their time and money into rescuing five former racing horse, who likely faced death if they were not adopted. The couple worked hard both to gain the trust of these emotionally scarred animals and train them to trek Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail.
The journey was not all they had expected, however; the trail presented obstacles at every turn: from busy highways and skittish horses, to rough weather, rougher terrain, and the threat of wildfires, to serious injuries and near brushes with death, all without reliable cell phone service.
The journey itself makes for incredibly engaging and interesting reading. The details of the trip are fascinating, and I often couldn’t put it down. The best part of this book, though, is how connected I felt to Jackie, Noel, and the horses. The writing is excellent, and the book is written in a personable, conversational style, as if the reader is chatting with an old friend. I got such a sense of Jackie’s personality through her writing style, and the kindness, determination, and humor of both Jackie and Noel shone through on every page. The horses, each with his own distinct personality, are as real and vividly drawn as the humans in this book. They quickly became almost surrogate children to Jackie and Noel, and to the reader as well. The moments when the horses get “naughty” are hilarious, and it is equally hilarious how much they are able to wrap their owners around their little fingers (or should I say hooves?).
This book is a must read; it’s equal parts adventure, comedy, and tear-jerking drama. I was so sad when it ended because I didn’t want to leave this couple and their horses behind. Not only do I recommend this book, but I intend to get my hands on all of Parry’s other work as well – she’s an exceptional writer and a kind and thoughtful human being (she’s even donating fifty percent of the book’s profits to horse charities so other horses can be rescued!) and I can’t wait to read more about her other journeys.
A Standard Journey is more than a story of a couple adopting horses and deciding to tackle the Bicentennial Trail in Australia.
Instead, it is a story that shows how two people, already married for several years, continue to discover new strengths in each other through the most dire circumstances, and manage to do so with both humour and a humbleness that makes this such an enjoyable read.
Parry’s writing is candid, and she conveys her story with searing honesty. She pulls no punches when it comes to talking about the mistakes she made, and nor does she shy away from the difficult emotional journey that led her to undertake this next challenge in her life.
A Standard Journey is a story that will resonate with any animal lover, any adventurer, and anyone who enjoys reading about ordinary people achieving truly extraordinary things.
I was excited to receive a review copy of Jackie Parry’s new story “A Standard Journey.” I read and thoroughly enjoyed her previous book “Of Foreign Build,” and this highly anticipated adventure is the next offering from this remarkable writer.
A Standard Journey is set in Australia and takes the reader, by horseback, through The Bicentennial National (BNT) recreational trail. As with her previous book Jackie’s plans were never going to be straight forward.
Accompanied by her husband, Noel, she began the journey burdened down with gear, food and a dream to see this part of her adopted country by horseback. Along the way they met unique individuals, forged friendships, gained knowledge and suffered bruises.
Through her writing Jackie Parry opens up a window to the emotional and stressful life of the adventure that lay ahead of them.
Jackie Parry’s writing is, as always, professional and honest. Her free spirit and willingness to share moments of self-doubt, frayed nerves and strained relationships create a very special story that will be enjoyed by readers of many genres.
By Glen Barrera
I really enjoyed this book, about the author and her husband and their dream to pack-saddle Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. Selling everything, reading-up, and pouring through equipment catalogues they make their purchases and plans, until all they needed…were the horses.
I’ve ridden horses, love them, but never really knew them until I read this book. From the beginning, when the “boys” (all rescued ex-trotter Standardbreds) are introduced and their personalities, temperaments and quirks noted, I realized this story would be different. It wasn’t long before they became, to me, five mischievous boys out with their parents on a holiday road-trip (Neddy pushed me! Did not! Did to!). But then, these boys weighed a half-ton each, sometimes had a mind of their own, and couldn’t grasp the concept of “time outs.”
This story is well written with an appealing honesty. It made me laugh, as well as dab at my eyes. It’s about change: how five horses, once timid and easily spooked from a life at the racetrack, can become strong and courageous with love and attention; how two people, through the most adverse conditions, will do everything they can to keep their “family” healthy and safe. A Standard Journey is a must-read for animal lovers and/or those with a taste for a truly great adventure.
By tracy slater
A heart warming and compelling read, with moments where it almost brought me to tears but by the same token I could actually feel butterflies in my tummy with excitement and joy. This selfless, loving couple gave up all that they had for the love of five horses. They endured so much both physically and mentally yet gained something wonderful that many of us will never get the chance to experience, something that will stay with them in their hearts and minds forevermore. This story really brings to the forefront what ‘living’ really is all about. It’s food for thought for everyone and pure escapism, I would recommend this book to anyone with a heart.
A Standard Journey: 5 horses, 2 people, and 1 tent
By Jackie Parry
The autobiographical story of one couple’s journey, from here to there, with their 5 “boys” (rescued horses each an ex “Trotter” Standardbred racehorse) traveling along the BNT (The Bicentennial National Trail) in Australia.
I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF A Standard Journey IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
Not your typical adventure story, A STANDARD JOURNEY is the story of two people who make the decision to sell everything they own and begin a journey across Australia with five emotionally wounded horses. They face trials and tribulations; plus cranky, emotional, sometimes child-like and sensitive team-mates (in the five “boys”) and still manage to find time to work on themselves and their own relationship.
I am an insomniac. I rarely sleep more than three or four hours a night. Last night, because I was reading this story, I didn’t sleep at all! I read the whole book in five hours.
A STANDARD JOURNEY is both interesting and charming. As Parry’s tale unwound, as I began to get to know the personalities and characters of both the horses and the humans, I found myself incredibly intrigued and wanted to know more as I turned each page.
As I was reading, each time one of the boys found a way to be impish and/or wicked, I found myself literally laughing out loud…so much so that in the middle of the night my husband woke up more than once to say, “What’s going on”. Sorry dear. I couldn’t help it…
In real life, I’m just a little bit afraid of horses (bitten once as a child)…so, I steer clear of them most of the time. However, there is no doubt they are beautiful creatures and not without their charms—from afar. I found each of the “boys” to be delightful and endearing. Dommie is my favorite!
I also found myself really getting to know both Jackie and Noel (the actual humans in the story) and I really liked them both. Their “stick-to-it-iveness is more than admirable, it’s amazing!
The author’s writing style is both easy to follow and creative enough to keep the reader’s attention. It’s a wonderful story told in a wonderful manner. Parry is genuine and charming.
I will admit, there were times during the night, as I read, that the story seemed to lag just a little; the pace became…slow. Even still, I kept turning those pages.
If I could not find any other reason to like this book—and I found many—I would recommend it on the strength of the hilarious chapter headings alone! BUCKING AND FARTING, TAEKWONDO NINJA HORSES, DRINKING COW POO and many more….just side-splitting!
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a funny chapter heading AND a good story about horses and the people who love them!
The title could have several meanings . . .
A “standard journey” for Jackie Parry isn’t the same as for most of the rest of us: she did, after all, sail a boat around the world (see her book Of Foreign Build.) For this trek across part of Australia, if there’s one episode in the story that represents the whole journey, it might be the one where the horses wandered off across a road, in traffic, and Jackie chased after them, running when the horses weren’t looking, abruptly walking nonchalantly when they’d turn to check on her, a la silent movie / cartoon slapstick comedy. For me, this episode exemplifies the story because while she was trying to have fun she found herself having a serious, dangerous problem, but yet she saw the humor of it all.
A second “standard journey” meaning might be exactly that: a man and a woman trying to enjoy their lives, achieve their goals, and encountering all kinds of setbacks and surprises along their path, daily uncovering the reality under their dreams. Isn’t that pretty much the standard experience for many of us?
She tells her story in a very down-to-Earth, humble way, sharing with readers information on how she and Noel could afford to have adventures like this (by buying their clothes in charity shops, for one thing), which leads to one of my favorite lines in the book, “The smartest thing we’ve done is to make our lives the entertainment.”
And my favorite line? The last line: “We’re still not immaculately dressed: how can you be while renovating a 1920s Dutch barge in France during winter? But that’s another story.” Y’all better read about this horse-trekking adventure of hers now because surely in the future she’ll have another good story to tell . . .
By Ulla H
I really enjoyed “A Standard Journey” by Jackie Parry! It would take a lot of love of horses, patience, humor and guts to do what she and her husband Noel did; trekking Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail with five rescued former racing horses. I loved the way Parry introduced ‘their boys,’ explaining each horse’s size, color, body shape, movements and personality. With kindness, patience and determination, Jackie and Noel soon came to earn the trust of their boys and started on their adventure trip. I found it fascinating to read about the different quirks the horses had and how skittish they could be, often making it a challenge for Jackie and Noel to carry on. The boys became lovable characters I started to feel connected with right from the starting gate. Trekking through rough terrain with many difficult obstacles proved to be a risky and difficult undertaking, but also rewarding. Jackie Parry’s writing is honest and personable as if she is talking straight to you. The book is filled with humor, but also of heartbreak and strained relationships, all shared by Parry with openness and sincerity. This is a wonderful read, a real treat! I highly recommend this book to lovers of animals, nature and adventure, young and old!
I’m looking forward to read the new book about the renovation of their 1920s Dutch barge and what that will bring.
By Clyde Ricker
Overall it was an enjoyable read. That is to say if one can get enjoyment out of someone else’s heartache. This truly is a study in bonding with five horses and testing a marital relationship. I would like to have screen a map to show where in Australia this took place. The start and the finish. Perhaps it doesn’t come with the electronic version. Can’t wait for Jackies next sailing adventure
I got this book free in exchange for a review .As I started reading “A Standard Journey” by Jackie Parry, I took an instant liking towards Author’s five horses, who are heroes of the book. It is also dedicated to the animals, and starts with “Five horses, Two persons, One tent” !
The story is about a real life adventure, or one more adventure by Jackie & Noel Parry, who had already sailed around the world one and half times, in a ten-meter boat before.
This is a work of non-fiction filled with courage and faith – faith in the unknown and faith in the animals ! There are moments that grip the reader, and there are moments that give an adrenaline rush, too !
There is often a touch of humour, but all along it is an honest narration including a precise glossary of things needed for such a trekking.
The book is also about training of the horses, who in turn train the riders, while traversing together across Australia’s longest “Bicentinnial National Trail ” ! There are tough times, and tougher solutions to problems !
Most interesting aspect of the book is a vivid description, of their experiences, descriptions of the horses, their temperaments and behaviour. Jackie and Noel’s communication with their five “boys” throughout the book reminds of the famous Doctor Dolittle’s stories. Though it might sound as anthropomorphizing to some readers !
I recommend this book, to everyone- young and old !
I would read “ A Standard Journey” which is exceptional in all the ways, again and again !