Jackie Ballantyne


Book Review: The Silver Gaucho, by Jackie Ballantyne

Available now in bookstores nationwide. 

Jackie Ballantyne worked in advertising in Australia and then began writing fiction. Shecv_the_silver_gaucho has won awards and commendations for her short fiction. Her first novel, How to Stop a Heart from Beating was published in NZ in 2007. She currently lives in Dunedin.

This book opens with the breaking news “El Gaucho de la Plata esta muerto” –“The Silver Gaucho is dead” being flashed on all the television screens in Argentina. Luis Felipe Alessandro Mabon who played The Silver Gaucho in a popular television series has been killed in a traffic accident on 9 November 2001.

The story then flips back to 1998, to the events preceding Luis Mabon being killed. Lachlyn Steele, known to all as Lockie, is in Argentina doing research for a travel book on Argentina. Her books are called “snapshots”. When she is not travelling, Lockie lives in Dunedin, New Zealand…

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After the launch

Monday morning feedback for The Silver Gaucho. What a way to start the week.

“I was up at 8 this morning and then fell back into bed to read just one more chapter, and then one more, alright two, maybe one more and now it’s 11.00 and there are no more chapters left. I’ve just pulled the back curtains to let the day shine through, now planning how to fill in the hours until this evening when I’m going to start again. To return to a book within the same day is a first for me, there’s usually a gap of a year or two at least.A magnificent read.”

Ruth Arnison
Poems in the Waiting Room

The Silver Gaucho


“Ranging from Argentina to the South Island of New Zealand and back again, Jackie Ballantyne’s surprising new novel combines an infectious passion for Argentina’s culture and people with a talented writer’s confident ability to tell an engrossing, deeply satisfying story.”

Eight years after I began writing ‘The Silver Gaucho‘ the book is about to be launched.

In 2006 I was in Umea, in northern Sweden for a couple of months. I planned to work on a manuscript about a Frenchman on the goldfields in Victoria, Australia, in the mid-nineteenth century. In anticipation of weeks of concentrated writing, I had assembled my files in advance and had all my resources and research notes catalogued for use. After procrastinating for a few days (as I do), I finally settled to down to write.

But as my fingers hit the keyboard it was not the Frenchman who materialised, but ‘The Silver Gaucho‘ a character from who knows where, a fictitious horseman from an Argentinian soap opera. In the following weeks he rode roughshod over my synopsis, upturned my plans and has never left my headspace since. How did that happen?

And now my gaucho is about to start a new journey, a life in the public domain. I would like to think that he will make an impact.

Fear of unfamiliar things

I used to fear swing bridges. The sense of movement below my feet was unnerving, like the ground shifting when you expect it to offer stability.  It was not until the urge to see what was beyond the swing bridge was greater than the fear that I took my first tentative steps. I now live in a land where the ground wobbles on a regular basis and the swing bridges, I have discovered, often lead to enchanting byways or challenging uplifts.

Writing this journal electronically, in the public domain, instead of scribbling furtively in my little notebook is a bit like stepping onto a swing bridge. I don’t know this place. I am aprehensive. Unsure. But I’m on my way.