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The Hanging Garden: A Novel Paperback – May 28, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In January 1981, having posted his completed autobiography, Flaws in the Glass, to his editor for review, White—the only Australian ever to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature—immediately began work on his next novel. It was to be a love story, tracing the intertwined paths of two young adolescents who have escaped the war in Europe to find tenderness despite bleak and foreign circumstance. Eirene is from Greece; her Communist father was murdered in prison, and her mother has abandoned her in Australia to return to the war (and her new lover). Gilbert, lean, blond, and rapidly shedding his boyhood, has been sent to Sydney to escape the Blitz. Their connection is initially elusive, fraught with childhood politics and the bristling closed-off-ness of orphaned children. But, one senses, there are profound and beautiful epiphanies in store for the young lovers. The precise contours of these moments are, however, left for us to imagine: White, failing in health and increasingly distracted by political issues, stopped work on the story in April (on ANZAC Day, Australia’s Memorial Day, to be precise) and never completed it. This book is, therefore, but a glimpse—a tantalizing, sensate, glimpse—of one of the twentieth century’s top writers, in raw but still beautiful form. --Brendan Driscoll


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

“The creative intelligence behind the prose is as intense and the characterization as deft as anywhere in White...The world is a richer place now that we have The Hanging Garden.” ―J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books

“[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] a complete, complex, and beautiful portrait, an important addition to classic contemporary fiction.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred)

“[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

“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

“[The Hanging Garden is] a complete, complex, and beautiful portrait, an important addition to classic contemporary fiction.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250028523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250028525
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This writing.. is superb, mysterious, has shadows, takes you into the profound, erotic, unsettling, witty and reminiscent times of the characters within. This book is that like a diamond. It is still encased within the rough rock, unpolished and not cut or set it is unfinished and yet the amazing exquisite promise shines for all. The Hanging Garden is the unfinished work of a promising novel, much is not written and you have no ending to justify what you expect nevertheless you are fulfilled in knowing you had the privilege of what might never have been. Although many want and desire the ending, it is left open allowing your own mind, heart and spirit to ponder on what might have been.. The ending is yours to write in your own mind.
I won this book via goodreads and treasure the ability to know what never will be from this author.
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Format: Paperback
When Eirene Sklavos, a school-age child, sees Mrs. Bulpit for the first time, she does not realize she will be living with Mrs. Bulpit indefinitely. Having traveled with her mother from Greece to Australia to escape the horrors of World War II, Eirene has already dealt with the death of her father, and shortly after Eirene meets Mrs. Bulpit for the first time, her mother departs for Alexandria, leaving Eirene to deal with the results. Alone in a foreign country, Eirene must learn the hard way who she is and where she belongs. When she meets Gilbert Horsfall, a boy her own age who is also living with Mrs. Bulpit, she discovers that he, too, has growing pains, and he, too, is a foreigner to Australia. The degree to which the two children may be able to help each other is a question for much of the novel, as are the effects of uncontrollable outside forces on their lives as they grow and develop.

Developing his themes of identity and connection (or lack of it) in an unfinished book that he never tried to publish, author Patrick White keeps his story line simple by using children as the main characters while he experiments with a variety of writing techniques very different from the bold, straight-forward narrative style of his longer, more famous early novels. This novel very nearly remained unpublished and unknown. White had indicated before his death in 1990 that he wanted all his incomplete works destroyed, but though he did have the opportunity to destroy this work himself, he let it remain intact during his lifetime. It was not until 2010 that his executor gave her permission for this novel to be published.
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Format: Paperback
Set during World War II in Sydney, the novel explores the world of two children: Eirene Sklavos and Gilbert Horsfall. Eirene is the daughter of an Australian woman, and a Greek communist who has been murdered in prison. Gilbert (Gil) is English: his father is an officer in India, his mother killed by a bomb during the Blitz in London. Gil and Eirene are thrown together in Essie Bulpit's ramshackle home on Neutral Bay, with its large, lush, neglected garden.

The garden is not a paradise, it is a refuge. While Gil and Eirene have enough room to each be alone, they are drawn together. The garden, with its lantana and gums, vines and pittosporum, looking out over Sydney Harbour, provides both a safe place and some common ground away from the culturally dangerous public worlds of society and school. Gil and Eirene become closer, and are largely at ease with each other in the garden where adults and other children do not intrude with their expectations and rules.

`Any conversation they might have had was buried inside him.'

Gil and Eirene are parted: the war may largely be distant from Sydney, but death is not. And, as Gil and Eirene move to live their separate new lives, I found myself less caught up in the story and more curious about where Patrick White intended to take it. What did the future hold for Gil and Eirene, and what twists and turns would have been involved in their journeys? Would they be reunited? Who will they become?

`Is this where we belong then?'

While `The Hanging Garden' is unfinished, this part is not incomplete. I might wonder about what the future holds for Gil and Eirene, but the world depicted in the novel, with the circumscribed worlds inhabited by a number of the characters is finely drawn.
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