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
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
“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
‘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).