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Honour & Other People’s Children: Text Classics Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B07B2M4MH3
- Publisher : Text Publishing (2 July 2018)
- Language : English
- File size : 1494 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 240 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 252,054 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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These two novellas are about relationships, about connections with others and the stresses that result when relationships shift or break down.
In ‘Honour’, set in inner Melbourne, we learn that Kathleen and Frank are separated and share the parenting of their six-year-old daughter Flo. Apparently, the separation is amicable, until Frank partners with Jenny and then wants a divorce. He also wants Flo to live with him and Jenny. This hurts Kathleen, and Flo cannot understand why they can’t all live together as one happy family. The story ends, with Flo having persuaded Kathleen and Jenny to sit on a seesaw, facing each other.
‘It rose without haste, sweetly, to the level, steadied and stopped. They hung in the dark, airily balancing, motionless.’
Such a powerful image. The story is told in the third person from Kathleen’s point of view.
In ‘Other People’s Children’ (the longer of the two novellas), two women, Ruth and Scotty, live in a big happy, noisy share house in Fitzroy. Scotty is a single school-teacher, Ruth a single mother with children. The lease runs out, and they move into a smaller house which they share with a musician, Alex. Ruth and Scotty have been close, but tension has crept into the friendship. Barriers are being erected, territory staked and reclaimed. Ruth is ready to move on, and she’ll take her children with her. Scotty remembers when the children belonged to everyone, responsibilities gladly shared.
In another share house, south of the river in Prahran, Madigan (inarticulate and apparently unemployable) lives in a converted shed. The house is occupied by hippies:
‘The women worked at odd things, tolerated the three children of one of them, cooked huge, ill-assorted vegetarian meals, and listened respectfully to the opinions of the men, all of whom were musicians of one stripe or another.’
Madigan is also a musician, he plays the mouth organ. At a pub gig, Madigan leads Alex’s band. There’s life in music.
By the end of the novella, Ruth will be moving out. And the others? It’s a choice of lifestyle.
I found these earlier pieces by Helen Garner interesting. While I prefer her non-fiction to her fiction, her keen observational skills and her ability to use words to craft worlds in microcosm is as clear here as it is in her later work.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.