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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Waiting, waiting for what, Happy Valley waiting in the dark is the question without answer.', 19 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Happy Valley (Hardcover)
The novel opens with a hawk's-eye view of the (fictional) Snowy Mountains townships of Happy Valley, Moorang and Kambala. Then, as the Kambala publican's wife gives birth, the narrator tells us that the towns were founded as a consequence of gold prospecting, and still have some inhabitants of Chinese descent. It's a peaceful place that Clem Hagan has to work at, as overseer for the Furlows. Or is it? As the reader is drawn in from the panoramic view of the hawk, to the specifics of the town of Happy Valley and its inhabitants it seems that peace is an illusion for many. Most want to escape.

`Mr Furlow hadn't a mind, only a mutual understanding between a number of almost dormant instincts.'

The Furlows are the wealthy landowners of Glen Marsh. Their daughter Sidney wants to escape, but not by marrying the man selected for her by her mother.

`Miss Cortine prepared her girls for life with a course of tea-pouring and polite adultery.'

In the town of Happy Valley, Amy and Arthur Quong own the general store and the picture theatre, while their brother Walter owns the garage. Other characters include Walter's daughter Margaret, the local doctor and his family (the Hallidays), the asthmatic school teacher and his wife (the Moriartys), the piano teacher Alys Browne, cart driver William `Chuffy' Chambers, and Mrs Belper the bank manager's wife, who `in spite of breeding dogs had her Artistic side'.

`Autumn was a season of preliminary cold and suppressed winds.'

And in this small community, there is adultery, tragedy and murder. Some lovers come to their senses, while others strike bargains in order to escape. Happiness is elusive for many, impossible for some. Duty and poverty can be hard to escape.

`The air was intricate with conversation.'

Patrick White was 27 when this, his first, novel was published. He did not allow it to be republished in Australia during his lifetime and for many, this 2012 republication will be a first opportunity to read it. It's not perfect - I found some scenes jarring - but it's indisputably Patrick White. His depiction of children - especially Margaret Quong and Rodney Halliday - is unsentimental, and sometimes unsettling. Alys Browne is, to me, the finest character. I could wish that she and Margaret Quong could escape and leave Happy Valley behind them. In this novel there is more than a hint of the great novels yet to come.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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5.0 out of 5 stars interesting book, 27 Feb. 2013
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Had not read this early P White and greatly enjoyed it. Not up to the standard of
the later
books but well written as alwys
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Happy Valley (Vintage Classics)
Happy Valley (Vintage Classics) by Patrick White (Paperback - 2 Jan. 2014)
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