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The Hanging Garden Hardcover – 5 Apr 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st Edition edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224097237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224097239
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 720,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[A] coherent and polished read, shrewd and tender about its two protagonists... Arresting." (Richard Davenport-Hines Spectator)

"What is instantly apparent is White's mastery of his art. He does what so many other writers ought to be able to do easily but often can't, which is set a scene economically and vividly." (Alan Taylor Herald)

"In Patrick White's centenary year, fans of Australia's only Nobel Laureate had two treats: the publication of his unfinished last novel, The Hanging Garden and the reissue of his first, Happy Valley." (Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph)

"It is frustrating and tantalising that The Hanging Garden is left, well, hanging." (Robert Macfarlane Sunday Times)

Book Description

Two children negotiate the dangers of life as World War Two evacuees in this previously unpublished novel from the Nobel Prize-winning Patrick White

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Seen through the eyes of the young the world can seem like a distressing, grotesque and thoroughly grey place, especially for children living through extraordinary times and upheavals.

In his last and unfinished novel, Patrick White has the seed of what was to be his final epic. With the trademark downbeat feeling that he does so well, the themes of longing and melancholy course through this work and punctuate right at the heart of the social ills that society attempts to hide beneath a veneer of respectability.

Class is the epitome of the social disease and this commentary into the nature of the adults is a parody of the respectability and selflessness they portray, the inherent selfishness of human nature, even in good acts is shown to be most farcical in the face of an innocent child's perception.

the character viewpoint changes rapidly and seamlessly as innermost thoughts are explored in brutal honesty. At times, the perspective changes once or twice within the same paragraph but never to the detriment of the narrative flow. The beauty of White's style is that he leaves you in no doubt about what each character is doing or thinking at any time...in a way his style - for me - depicts the all round complete character portrait.

Every character has their bad points exquisitely rendered, be it class prejudice or pure ignorance of circumstance. This is off set with the frighteningly mature voices and views of the children, which are a merciless indictment of life and the circumstances it throws at people.

The juvenile conversations blended in with adult intuitiveness reveal a litany of terrible traits in this raw and uncompromising struggle against loneliness and surrounded by an alien culture.
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Format: Hardcover
A masterly narrative of life in a stultifying Australian suburb during WW2, told from the point of view of a precocious but socially isolated Greek immigrant girl. White writes with typical underplayed and penetrating insight, using deft touches to reveal vast hinterlands of loneliness. Unsaid longings populate the shadows.

The novel was unfinished inasmuch as White had not edited and re-drafted the final version before he died. This shows in some aspects, such as where the girl's diary appears too knowing or where, occasionally, we are told what to think. But these are small blemishes in a minor work of a great writer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on 11 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
Set during World War II in Sydney, the novel explores the world of two children: Eirene Sklavos and Gilbert Horsfall. Eirene is the daughter of an Australian woman, and a Greek communist who has been murdered in prison. Gilbert (Gil) is English: his father is an officer in India, his mother killed by a bomb during the Blitz in London. Gil and Eirene are thrown together in Essie Bulpit's ramshackle home on Neutral Bay, with its large, lush, neglected garden.

The garden is not a paradise, it is a refuge. While Gil and Eirene have enough room to each be alone, they are drawn together. The garden, with its lantana and gums, vines and pittosporum, looking out over Sydney Harbour, provides both a safe place and some common ground away from the culturally dangerous public worlds of society and school. Gil and Eirene become closer, and are largely at ease with each other in the garden where adults and other children do not intrude with their expectations and rules.

`Any conversation they might have had was buried inside him.'

Gil and Eirene are parted: the war may largely be distant from Sydney, but death is not. And, as Gil and Eirene move to live their separate new lives, I found myself less caught up in the story and more curious about where Patrick White intended to take it. What did the future hold for Gil and Eirene, and what twists and turns would have been involved in their journeys? Would they be reunited? Who will they become?

`Is this where we belong then?'

While `The Hanging Garden' is unfinished, this part is not incomplete. I might wonder about what the future holds for Gil and Eirene, but the world depicted in the novel, with the circumscribed worlds inhabited by a number of the characters is finely drawn.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret S. Converse on 19 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a gift from the Gods! To find something new of Patrick's, finished or not, is serendipity. His writing is ever beautiful and his spirit timeless.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
White Makes Right 3 Oct 2012
By Lector S M R Circumspice - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Only a fragment, this is still a splendid story which, for those who know Sydney, conveys the tang of that very special place and its people. The seedy house, the feral garden behind it, the cliff overlooking the harbour upon which it sits, and the cubby ('tree-')house built in the branches of a huge moreton bay fig rooted at the rock face. But, like all Patrick White novels, it is a profoundly interior experience as well, not of one but two children brought for safety during the second war. Narrative, thought, dialogue converge in the heads, memories, lives, and dreams of each character. Not just the adults who revolve around them, but the wise children themselves, growing into awareness from exotic to australian, outcast to included, and from sexually polymorphous to sexually experienced, with each other and with those of all ages into whose ambit their lives put them. Also, like all Patrick White novels, this story begins at the start of a life and ends at its finish, but in the case of each child it is a life within a life, begun effectively as displaced nostalgic, and ending at a point of assimilation (by VE day) with a new Australian place as a new person with unspoken understanding that no matter what expectation may have been held upon arrival, and cherished over the years, there is now no going back. One amazon reviewer wrote that nothing happens in this book. Well, only if war, death, fight, flight, prostitution, nymphomania, orgasm, alcoholism, voyeurism, addiction, cancer, rape and near rape, sibling and marital conflicts are all nothing. All are present in unique language bewildering at first and then amazingly compact once awareness comes. Worth a few readovers even for the White-aware; probably the summit of his style as a novelist.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
`Nobody is wholly responsible for what they are.' 11 July 2012
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Set during World War II in Sydney, the novel explores the world of two children: Eirene Sklavos and Gilbert Horsfall. Eirene is the daughter of an Australian woman, and a Greek communist who has been murdered in prison. Gilbert (Gil) is English: his father is an officer in India, his mother killed by a bomb during the Blitz in London. Gil and Eirene are thrown together in Essie Bulpit's ramshackle home on Neutral Bay, with its large, lush, neglected garden.

The garden is not a paradise, it is a refuge. While Gil and Eirene have enough room to each be alone, they are drawn together. The garden, with its lantana and gums, vines and pittosporum, looking out over Sydney Harbour, provides both a safe place and some common ground away from the culturally dangerous public worlds of society and school. Gil and Eirene become closer, and are largely at ease with each other in the garden where adults and other children do not intrude with their expectations and rules.

`Any conversation they might have had was buried inside him.'

Gil and Eirene are parted: the war may largely be distant from Sydney, but death is not. And, as Gil and Eirene move to live their separate new lives, I found myself less caught up in the story and more curious about where Patrick White intended to take it. What did the future hold for Gil and Eirene, and what twists and turns would have been involved in their journeys? Would they be reunited? Who will they become?

`Is this where we belong then?'

While `The Hanging Garden' is unfinished, this part is not incomplete. I might wonder about what the future holds for Gil and Eirene, but the world depicted in the novel, with the circumscribed worlds inhabited by a number of the characters is finely drawn. They are memorable, some of these characters: the blowsy Essie Bulpit; Eirene's Aunt Ally and her husband Harold; and some of the school teachers - Mr Harbord and Miss Hammersley.

`The Hanging Garden' is the first part of a novel found amongst Patrick White's papers after his death in September 1990. From David Marr's note at the end of the novel, we learn that the draft was written in blue biro by Patrick White on quires of foolscap paper, and that the final novel was intended to be in three parts. Illness, age and the demands of public life each played a part in preventing completion. The incomplete novel, transcribed from Patrick White's handwritten draft, has been published this year - to mark the centenary of White's birth.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Loved this fragment 3 Jun 2012
By Marjorie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I felt ambivalent about purchasing this book. Before his death, White had wanted it destroyed, and it seems inappropriate if not unethical that his agent would subsequently allow it to be published. But in spite of the novel being only a fragment and published against the author's wishes, I loved it.
The novel is set in the Second World War. Two children, Eirene Sklavos and Gilbert Horsfall, have been evacuated from Greece and London respectively. They have been billeted with Mrs Bulpit, a widowed Englishwoman who lives in a house with the hanging garden of the book's title, in Mosman (a suburb on Sydney's northern harbourside). The children form an unlikely friendship, and in creating this relationship White established beautifully the small perceptions and deceptions, the distinctions as to what can be shared and what cannot.
In this fragment, White writes in the first, second and third person, and does so with great effect. The stage on which the narrative is placed is very small. I could only wish White had had time to complete the book so that the reader would understand what his bigger vision might entail.
The novel has the usual profound insights, lyrical writing - and occasional unkindnesses - that characterize all White's earlier work.
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