Review: Autumn Laing by Alex Miller

Autumn Laing

by Alex Miller

Autumn Laing seduces Pat Donlon with her pearly thighs and her lust for life and art. In doing so she not only compromises the trusting love she has with her husband, Arthur, she also steals the future from Pat’s young and beautiful  wife, Edith, and their unborn child.

Fifty-three years later, cantankerous, engaging, unrestrainable 85-year-old Autumn is shocked to find within herself a powerful need for redemption. As she begins to tell her story, she writes, ‘They are all dead and I am old and skeleton-gaunt. This is where it began…’

‘Autumn Laing is a story about the intimate lives of passionate, ambitious and gifted people, it is a story about their loves, their hates and their betrayals, but it is also a story about Australian art and culture and some of the questions and problems that Australian art and culture have had to confront and continue to confront today. The inspiration for this story may have originated in the model of the relationship of Sidney Nolan and Sunday Reed, but Autumn Laing and Pat Donlon are my own fictional inventions. They are the products of my own dreaming, the presences of my own haunting and my own experience. Anyone looking in this book for the real Sunday Reed or Sidney Nolan will be looking in the wrong place and they will not find them. Autumn Laing is not biography or cultural history, and makes no claim to any such thing. It is fiction. My own fiction, and that is the only sensible claim to be made for it.’ extract from Meanjin

It has now been some time since I have read Autumn Laing, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it! It was a book that I devoured in about 2 days, but a story that really didn’t go any where or accomplish anything. It is very much a memoir through the eyes of a much more mature (but more cranky) Autumn, where she recalls and recaps but doesn’t really judge or analyze her acions or those around her. I enjoyed the read but not necessarily the story. It would make a great holiday read as it’s not heavy, but can be tough to read how blasè their younger selves treated other people who where close to them.

Published by: Allen and Unwin

Recommended Retail Price $39.99

Recommended Age: 18+

My Rating: 4/5

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