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Sydney, Australia, 1942. Two children, on the cusp of adolescence, have been spirited away from the war in Europe and given shelter in a house on Neutral Bay, taken in by the charity of an old widow who wants little to do with them. The boy, Gilbert, has escaped the Blitz. The girl, Eirene, lost her father in a Greek prison. Left to their own devices, the children forge a friendship of startling honesty, forming a bond of uncommon complexity that they sense will shape their destinies for years to come.
Patrick White's posthumously discovered novel, The Hanging Garden, which represents the first part of what was intended to be his final masterpiece, is a breathtaking and important literary event. Seamlessly shifting among points of view, and written in dazzling prose, Patrick White’s mastery of style and highly inventive storytelling will transport you as the work of few writers can.
“The Hanging Garden is a novel for our time—a story about parentless children, mistreated by a world that, by its lights, intends no harm but nonetheless does enduring damage . . . David Marr, White's biographer, and others dedicated to White's memory, decided to give us The Hanging Garden. They were right to do so, and we should thank them for it.”—John Sutherland, The New York Times Book Review
“Patrick White re-creates the world by depicting the life we think we know in an entirely original and luminous way. Everything about The Hanging Garden, his final novel, is thrilling, consummate, and revelatory . . . A rare and wonderful gift to White devotees and a perfect introduction for new readers.”—Peter Cameron, author of Coral Glynn
“Atmospheric and unsettling. White’s writing is infused with a powerful sense of yearning and loss. A book poignant with the uncertainty and bewilderment of childhood’s passing.”—Tan Twan Eng, author of The Garden of Evening Mists
“One of the most vivid, erotically charged, emotionally wrenching works of fiction I’ve read this century.”—The Canberra Times (Australia)
“White is a mesmerizing narrator whose prose illuminates the most ordinary object and event in new and gripping ways . . . [He] was one of those writers who won the Nobel prize for literature because he really deserved it.”—Thomas Keneally, The Guardian
“[Patrick White] slashes through euphemism and distraction to reach a linguistic plane on which he can say what things actually are, in an idiom at once poetic and acute . . . Entering White's sanctum requires a purification ritual.”—The Millions
“White’s novels [are] boldly ambitious, inventive, sensual, eloquent . . . shrewd and tender about its two protagonists.”—The Spectator (United Kingdom)
“The late, virtuosic performance of a master. Here is White conjuring in 200 pages one of the most vivid, erotically charged, emotionally wrenching works of fiction, I’ve read this century.”—The Age (Australia)
“The Hanging Garden returns fiction to greatness. Reading it brings exhilaration, tinged with dismay at our diminished expectations of the literary novel . . . A gift.”—The Monthly (Australia)
“White's incessant questions—Is there anything beyond the physical world? May there be loving human unions beyond the carnal?—are posed here in ways as profound and subtle as anywhere else in his work. The Hanging Garden recalls us to the truth that great novels are those where the free play of the author's imagination reveals the fetters of gender or caste we wear in reality.”—The Australian
“Here, too, is the Sydney of White’s childhood—lush, humid, sensual, a magic place in which children might hide themselves . . . It is an elegant, elegiac ending to a work that—however conceived in its full extent—brims with freshness and acuity. The Hanging Garden may be unfinished, but it does not feel incomplete.”—Peter Pierce, The Canberra Times
“Always engaging and intermittently brilliant.”—Australian Book Review
“[The Hanging Garden is] a beautifully executed, deeply moving story about the blossoming young love in a dangerous and unpredictable world . . . A powerful novel about loss and love that fans of literary fiction will appreciate.”—Library Journal
“[The Hanging Garden] is, therefore, but a glimpse—a tantalizing, sensate, glimpse—of one of the twentieth century's top writers, in raw but still beautiful form.”—Booklist
“[The Hanging Garden is] a complete, complex, and beautiful portrait, an important addition to classic contemporary fiction.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
Mamma had been taken into the saloni. She was sitting talking to the Englishwoman.
‘You’ll find her a quiet, reasonable child.’
It made the reasonable child feel grave, important, while remaining unconvinced.
She was standing in a smaller room which opened off the important one where callers are received. It was a house of many rooms, whether their purpose was reasonable or not she hadn’t had time to find out, but sensed that she might approve of the house, dark and quiet, standing on the edge of this precipice.
She looked down through the closed