3 September 2009

Four Books I've Read Lately: 2, The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

It's wonderful what you can pick up and read for free from your local public library.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Children's Bach by Helen Garner
Lord Hornblower by CS Forester
Breath by Tim Winton

I find I can recommend all four of these books. Strangely enough, each of them has a theme connected with the idea of growing up.

The Children's Bach by Helen Garner has been around for a while now, but I finally got around to reading it. Since mainstream novels are not my favourite thing (domestic chores are bad enough without having to read about them as well) I took a deep breath and sank into the language of it with an open attitude.

The plot concerns, roughly, a happily married couple who have two children, one of whom is mentally retarded and will never grow up. It turns out that there are other characters who have never grown up, either. This possibly explains the title, The Children's Bach, with which the wife keeps attempting to learn the piano but can never get far. As their circle of family life widens to include a woman, whom the father knew at university, and her daughter, strains appear in the marriage. What is charming in this book is the support that the women give each other despite the various misunderstandings described in a number of small scenes.

If you like reading literary works, this is a good one. If you usually prefer works with a more wildly adventurous plot, you might like this quiet little book anyway for the portrayal of its characters.

Morva Shepley

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