Murmurations, by Australian author Carol Lefevre, interested me especially as a short story cycle. The author links eight stories primarily through Erris Cleary, a deceased woman, as well as through many other connections. Each of the stories can be enjoyed individually. Each tells about a thoroughly believable snippet of life. They reflect aspects of each other and give each other depth.
Read as a whole, they form a satisfying novella in which individual questions raised are answered.
Walking meditation can be done anywhere, but walking a labyrinth adds a special dimension to this ancient practice. An award-winning novel, The Labyrinth, (2020) by Australian author, Amanda Lohrey, provoked me to find out out more.
In the book, a middle-aged woman with seemingly insurmountable problems and deep grief decides to build her own labyrinth on vacant land near her shack at the beach. The construction leads her to peace. You can read my review of the book here.
Disappointment seems an odd emotion to experience at my age, especially over trivial things. You’d think a person over eighty would have weathered so much adversity they’d never feel let down again. But we’re led to expect peace and serenity in old age. Wisdom. A calm acceptance of the world and all it contains. Sadly, the myths around ageing challenge those about marriage and motherhood for their silliness!
I have no valid reason to complain or feel distress. The time of COVID-19 sits lightly where we live. No one I know has died of the virus. Very few friends, in other places, have been infected, and only one severely. Lock-downs caused me little distress. One grandchild lives in another state. I miss her, but she remains well and happy. We are blessed. Hard borders and vigilance keep Western Australia almost COVID free.
The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey won Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, (2021). The award was well-deserved. It’s one of the best books I’ve read for a long time. The Labyrinth tells the story of loss and grief experienced by a middle-aged woman, as well as her path to recovery. Beautifully written, the novel is haunting, poetic and deeply moving.
Lohrey’s seventh novel also sent me on a journey to discover more about labyrinths.
Goal-setting – a skill I learned well in my twenties – usually stands me in good stead when I want to get things done. Finish a doctoral degree, declutter a house, learn a new crochet stitch? Set a goal. Job done!
Although 2020 brought many problems as COVID-19 spread around the world, I managed to maintain my usual goal-setting skills. A couple of lockdowns hardly fazed me. Instead, I enjoyed the peace and not having to go out.
Living in Western Australia, still able to move, work and play freely, reminds me how lucky we are. No restrictions, no masks. Only hard borders to the outside world and the other states tells us of the pandemic. Oh, and the media! Another story altogether.
This year brought a set of problems, different from COVID-19 to my family. We were rocked to our core by the tragic death of my younger daughter, Anne, on 27 December 2020. Loss, grief and mourning take their toll. They demand commitment and hard work. For months, I felt old and frail. My gait and fitness slowed. My coping skills took a hard knock.
Cubby study sanctuary, my place to retreat and enjoy. The tiny space off the living room in our apartment grabbed my attention. Used for storage of unfolded laundry by the tenants-in-residence, its potential thrilled.
‘It’s called a study-nook on the plan,’ the real estate agent said.
A short story cycle can also be described as ‘linked short stories’ or ‘a novel in short stories’. Whatever we choose to call it, the genre consists of a number of stories linked in a variety of ways. Each story stands alone with its own structure and plot. However, when published together they make a satisfying reading experience, comparable to a longer work of fiction.
Illustrated Nature Poetry: An Anthology captured my attention the minute I saw the attractive cover. Sadly, my photography skills didn’t quite capture the glossiness or quality of the book. Always on the lookout for things to share with my great-grandchildren, this book seemed to fit the bill.
Goodbye, soggy July 2021! Surprisingly for a committed winter lover, I’m glad to see the back of the month just gone. July 2021 was the second wettest July on record. That’s pretty wet. I know people who talk happily about ‘dry July’. Not us.
The month reminded me of winters when I was a child in the 1940s. Heavy rain often drenched us on the short walk from the tram stop in Beaufort Street, Highgate to the school gate.
In those days, parents didn’t think to drive kids to school. We made our own way. If that meant catching trams or busses, walking and sitting all day in damp clothes and shoes, so be it! The horrid smell of wet wool in the classroom stays with me after all these years
Metal Fish, Falling Snow, Cath Moore’s poignant, beautifully-written debut novel, touched me deeply. This so-called ‘young adult’ novel kept me, an old woman, reading avidly from start to finish. Not only that, several times I went back to reread a particularly moving passage or to savour the language.
The novel was awarded the 2021 Victorian Premier’s YA Literary Award. It was listed for the 2021 Stella Prize.