Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fog Garden

Somewhere in the kaleidoscope between life and art sits Clare, whose story is Marion Halligan's The Fog Garden. Clare, like Marion, is a woman of a certain age whose much-loved husband of thirty-odd years has just died. And Clare, like Marion, is a novelist. With the loss of such a marriage of true minds and kindred spirits Clare finds herself building a 'cathedral of grief' - and reeling into the arms of an old friend. Life and writing loop and spiral around Clare and the central enormous fact of her husband's death.
Shortlisted in the Queensland Premier's Literary Award, The Fog Garden is a rollercoaster of a story about the nature of fiction and how life creates art, how adultery can be liberating and how grief is as much a gift as love. Halligan has crafted a poignant and powerful novel, playing all the time on that dangerous ground between her own life and that of her heroine

Marion Halligan is an Australian author who has many awards here in Australia and internationally. I have enjoyed her writing because it reflects the Australia I know. In Fog Garden, she tells the story of Clare, whom she says ‘ isn’t me. She’s like me. Some of her experiences, adventures, terrors, have been mine. Some haven’t.’ Clare is an author in her 50’s who has lost her husband of 35 years after a difficult year of illness. The story is about Clare’s grief, fears and learning to live again. Around each corner f Clare’s experience I found another aspect of hr life that made me proud to be a woman and excited to be living a life with options.

Marion explores the early days or weeks of grief as Clare has an affair with her friends husband, following the death of her husband, while simultaneously Clare was writing about an older women who was also have sex, a lot, with a neighbour. Not a common theme in the books I have read, I quite enjoyed the authors questioning and then accepting of this form of coping for older women. I’m not sure if this is particularly Australian way of coping, or a global experience of women, but I liked Marions guts to put it out there.

“So Perry came and pleasured Ronnie on her satin quilt, soon to be protected from Rennies unreliable bladder by a rose chenille throw… ‘I mean that velvety kind of chenille’ said Rennie. Not that terrible half bald candlewick stuff. Tidiness, she said, I couldn’t stand having to make the bed four times a day’.

So after we get over the guilt of the affair, and then the end of the affair, Clare (who’s not Marion, but like her) picks up a long lost friendship with her pre-marriage lover who is now living in the UK. S or widow, who’s beginning to make sense of her own life now, engages in adult conversation through daily emails with her friend. This part of the story rang so true for m - how do we get through the tuff stuff in life if we don’t have friends (how ever far or close they are)? The fact that Clare found comfort and encouragement with an older lover was just beautiful for me - to think that relationships can survive that test of time.

‘you’ll soon find another lover, said the man who had been that…..ah she said, not to him: another lover….the good person would have said ,no, not proper, not good idea, not right. This one says, I wonder what that would be like? And goes ahead and finds out.’

I love this description of a women searching for her self…

At an antique market in St James churchyard with clusters of small stalls and some knowing customers - one is looing for a Stilton spoon - she wanders round solitary looking at the wares, for a moment becoming the person owning this thing taking it away, making it belong to her, changing her life imperceptibly with its butterfly wing, until she passes on, saying to herself, of course you had no intention, but for a second she did, for another second she passed from intention to ownership. (p264).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thyme for Tea?

Not that long ago my sister from Queensland came to visit for a weekend. She left me this lovely tea towel gift for my Tea collection. Isn't it true though - some days are just made for drinking tea.