'Patrick White's brilliant 1961 novel, set in an Australian suburb, intertwines four deeply different lives. An Aborigine artist, a Holocaust survivor, a beatific washerwoman, and a childlike heiress are each blessed—and stricken—with visionary experiences that may or may not allow them to transcend the machinations of their fellow men. Tender and lacerating, pure and profane, subtle and sweeping, Riders in the Chariot is one of the Nobel Prize winner's boldest books. (Publication summary)Harmondsworth Ringwood : Penguin , 1964
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony was 'first published as a sequence. Australia Felix, the first volume, which covers twelve years of Richard Mahony’s life from the early 1850s, was published in 1917; The Way Home, which deals with his subsequent eight years, appeared in 1925; and Ultima Thule, the final volume covering his last four years, in 1929. The novel was first published as a trilogy in 1930.'
Australia Felix 'begins the story of Richard Mahony, a 28-year-old medical graduate of Edinburgh University and now the keeper of a general store in Ballarat'. Part one of the novel 'follows Mahony’s career until his marriage; the second part deals with the Eureka Stockade, the growth of the varied society of Ballarat and legal hearing in Melbourne'. It 'concludes with Mahony’s decision to start a practice in Ballarat instead of returning to England'. In parts three and four, 'Richardson extends her panoramic picture of a dynamic colonial society in which individuals are subject to great reversals or advances of fortune'.
The Way Home begins with Mahony’s 'arrival in England and concludes with his final, second return to Australia, as a ruined man. In the intervening years he grows disillusioned with English society, returns to Australia to find his investments have made him suddenly rich, attempts to settle into the wealthy community of Melbourne and becomes the father of three children'. His sojourn in England leads to the discovery that he is uncomfortable with the ‘offensive and cramping’ English social hierarchy.
Ultima Thule picks up the story with Mahony’s 'return to Australia, his attempts to establish himself as a medical practitioner, first in Melbourne and then at Barambogie, a small town in northern Victoria'. When Mahony’s skills as a doctor as increasingly questioned, the family moves to the coast and later to Gymgurra where Mahony’s wife, Mary, 'secures a position as postmistress'. Mahony is moved to a private nursing home, then to a government asylum and finally returns home. He is 'devotedly cared by Mary, until paralysis incapacitates his body. After his death he is buried in the local cemetery, within sound of the sea'.
Source: The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. 2nd. ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994: 294-295.Ringwood : Penguin , 1971
'Miss Hester Harper, middle-aged and eccentric, brings Katherine into her emotionally impoverished life. Together they sew, cook gourmet dishes for two, run the farm, make music and throw dirty dishes down the well. One night, driving along the deserted track that leads to the farm, they run into a mysterious creature. They heave the body from the roo bar and dump it into the farm's deep well. But the voice of the injured intruder will not be stilled and, most disturbing of all, the closer Katherine is drawn to the edge of the well, the farther away she gets from Hester.' (From the publisher's website.)Camberwell : Penguin , 2007
'From one of Australia's most celebrated writers comes eleven stories about the complexities of life and love; of looking back and longing; of what it means to be a stranger, on foreign ground and known, told with the piercing familiarity and resonance we have come to expect from Helen Garner. Remarkably honest, often very funny and always woven in ways that surprise, these stories tease out everyday life to show the darkness underneath - but also the possibilities of joy.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Penguin Modern Classics)Camberwell : Penguin , 2008
Set in inner suburban 1970s Melbourne, Monkey Grip describes the fluid relationships of a community of friends who are living and loving in new ways. Single parent Nora falls in love with Javo, a heroin addict, and together they try to make sense of their lives and the choices they have made.Camberwell : Penguin , 2008
Athena and Dexter lead an enclosed family life, innocent of fashion and bound towards a disturbed child. Their comfortable rut is disrupted by the arrival of Elizabeth, a tough nut from Dexter's past. With her three charming, chaotic hangers-on, she draws the couple out into a world whose casual egotism they had barely dreamed of. How can they get home again? (Source: publisher's website)Camberwell : Penguin , 2008
'Dante and Johnno are unlikely childhood friends, growing up in the bustle of steamy, wartime Brisbane. Later, as teenagers, they learn about love and life amidst the city's pubs and public libraries, backyards and brothels, Moreton Bay figs and tennis parties. As adults, they make the great pilgrimage overseas and maintain an uneasy friendship as they seek to build their lives.
'An affectionate and bittersweet portrait, Johnno brilliantly recreates the sleazy, tropical half-city that was Brisbane and captures a generation locked in combat with the elusive Australian dream.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Penguin).Camberwell : Penguin , 2008
'Henry and Muriel's life on the new estate is relatively harmonious, despite the vulgar neighbours (the Tonkettes), the Second World War and the regular Sunday visits from Muriel's mother (who believes her daughter has married far below her station).
'The accidental appearance of Mr Hawthorne - Muriel's student - at their house one Sunday afternoon brings unexpected upheavals. Here is a man of respectable breeding, of munificent means, and someone capable of refined, intelligent conversation. Mr Hawthorne has something to offer everyone in the family, but his posting to London disturbs the delicate balance of personal affairs ...'
Source: Publisher's blurb.Camberwell : Penguin , 2009
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