Some of the books I read in January…..
Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan: Sunday’s Garden
Reading Autumn Laing rekindled my interested in John and Sunday Reed, and their life at Heide. My public library’s catalogue has turned up a few books, including this one.
The Reeds’ property Heide was a meeting point for artists and intellectuals, who, as the foreword says “rejected the more conventional avenues of living and learning.” It goes on to say
The Reeds, along with Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Max Harris, Danila Vassilieff and others embraced radical art and politics, and pursued a freshness of vision that saw many of them become key figures in Australia’s cultural history.
A story about Sunday and Heide must include the artists and intellectuals who lived there or came to visit. However, this book looks at this fascinating era from a different angle. Sunday Reed was a passionate gardener, and her creative talents came to the fore in her garden. Sunday’s garden details how she designed it, worked in it and encouraged others to enjoy it too.
In 1980 the Reeds sold Heide to the State of Victoria. The art gallery shows world class exhibitions and Sunday’s gardens are still an integral part of the property.
I enjoyed the book. It is crammed with luscious photos, letters, works of art. I wonder though whether I would have enjoyed it as much if I was unfamiliar with Heide. If you are in Melbourne, make the time to go there, if only to wander through the beautiful gardens on the banks of the Yarra and think of Sunday and John.
J.K. Rowling: A casual vacancy
Barry Fairbrother dies, leaving a vacancy on the local council and Rowling follows the ripples that his death creates in the town of Pagford. Actually, there are more than ripples. For many characters tidal waves sweep over them, exposing their foibles, secrets and strained lives.
I wasn’t a Harry fan, so I had no feelings one way or the other about Rowling’s new direction. I didn’t really want to read it, so I grumbled a bit when Ruth suggested it as our Book Club read. However, I am glad that she did because I enjoyed it. (Thanks Ruth.)
Rowling creates a believable group of characters and their actions drive the book. As in Harry Potter, her teenagers are the most credible and well rounded. I really enjoyed the strength and integrity of Krystal.
Robert Engwerda: Mosquito Creek
Set in 1855 on a gold field in Victoria; it gave a good insight into what life would have been like. It was a good read, but the ending was most unsatisfactory. Why did it have to end abruptly and leave so many loose ends?