The Hanging Garden

Patrick White

The Hanging Garden

Two children are brought to a wild garden on the shores of Sydney Harbour to shelter from the Second World War. The boy's mother has died in the Blitz. The girl is the daughter of a Sydney woman and a Communist executed in a Greek prison. In wartime Australia, these two children form an extraordinary bond as they negotiate the dangers of life as strangers abandoned on the far side of the world. With the tenderness and rigour of an old, wise novelist, Patrick White explores the world of these children, the city of his childhood and the experience of war. The Hanging Garden ends as the news reaches Sydney of victory in Europe, and the children face their inevitable separation. White put the novel aside at this point and how he planned to finish the work remains a mystery. But at his death he left behind a masterpiece in the making, published here for the first time. 3.5 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
The Hanging Garden

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format
Pages 240
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-0224097239
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

Two children are brought to a wild garden on the shores of Sydney Harbour to shelter from the Second World War. The boy's mother has died in the Blitz. The girl is the daughter of a Sydney woman and a Communist executed in a Greek prison. In wartime Australia, these two children form an extraordinary bond as they negotiate the dangers of life as strangers abandoned on the far side of the world. With the tenderness and rigour of an old, wise novelist, Patrick White explores the world of these children, the city of his childhood and the experience of war. The Hanging Garden ends as the news reaches Sydney of victory in Europe, and the children face their inevitable separation. White put the novel aside at this point and how he planned to finish the work remains a mystery. But at his death he left behind a masterpiece in the making, published here for the first time.

Reviews

The Spectator

Richard Davenport-Hines

The Hanging Garden shows White’s prose at its least baroque. The surviving fragment makes a coherent and polished read, shrewd and tender about its two protagonists, although soiled by rancorous, unforgiving disgust at the failed humanity of the minor characters ... Readers who want to explore the difficult, uneven terrain of White’s novels should, however, begin with the masterpieces of his mid-career, The Vivisector and The Eye of the Storm.

31/03/2012

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The Times

Paul Dunn

What is left is more than a first draft but is far from finished; the editors have left in his notes and on occasions the prose breaks up in unrevised confusion. Still, it is well worth reading, to see a master of prose style at his peak. White flips effortlessly between second and third person to build up Eirene’s sense of alienation; he deftly contrasts the dull discomforts of the Bulpit house with the lush mysteries of its garden; and there is a tender physicality to his descriptions.

24/04/2012

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The Sunday Times

Robert MacFarlane

The Hanging Garden is rich with evidence of White’s experimentalism; it also offers conventional one-liners: a woman who “takes out a lipstick from her bag and bloodies her mouth”; a pudding-­fleshed housewife “who had been steamed rather than baked by the Sydney climate” ... While it doesn’t possess the visionary intensity of White’s two great mid-period novels — Voss (1957) and ­Riders in the Chariot (1961) — it is clear that, if completed, it would have been another significant work: it is frustrating and tantalising that The Hanging Garden is left, well, hanging.

08/04/2012

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