Still Coping with this Tasmanian spring…..

…..of a great deal of wind and rain and cool temperatures. However we are going to reach a high of 19 degrees C today, (56F) so the temps are beginning to climb.

I got up early this morning and finished the book, Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down. This book won Australia’s Miles Franklin literary award 2022 and was short listed for the Stella prize here.

I have heard a few say they don’t want to read it due to the subject matter but it is a wonderfully complex story (IMHO) and once into it I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Maggie, the protagonist.

Here is the blurb on the back of book: “A quiet small town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she’s reluctant to revisit: dark memories and unspoken trauma, warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss. She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?”

The story starts with Maggie as a 4 yr old. Her mother has left and she is left with her father. When he is imprisoned for manslaughter, her life in foster care and institutional care begins. We follow Maggie until she is in her 40s and see the ramifications of a traumatic childhood. It went in directions I could not have predicted and once into this story I think the reader is really on her side.

I found the writing amazing and the characters jumped off the page.

I’m not going to say another word about her journey as it would spoil her trajectory.

Here is another book I’m reading from the library:

Postcards from the Asylum by Tasmanian poet Karen Knight. I went to a Fullers book launch a week ago of a book of poetry she and her photography partner put together. He would take photos of the landscape of the Tasman peninsula (google Tasman Peninsula photos if you want to see it’s beauty) and she wrote a poem to go with each photo. I did not buy this book but I was interested in a previous book she mentioned that she published in 2008. It is a book of poetry of her time as an inmate at the Royal Derwent Psychiatric Hospital in 1969.

Willow court has a very old history as a hospital, lunatic asylum, psychiatric hospital and all manner of people were incarcerated there over the decades. Many with disabilities, immigrants from WWII who could not speak English, the mentally ill. It didn’t take much to end up there. It closed in 2000 and I was working for Disability Services at the time. We supported residents moving into community homes as part of a team. Reading the files of my clients made for disturbing reads and although the buildings of Willow court still stand many are now derelict with their steel bars over windows and even a moat round one building. Various organisations have tried to make a go of different enterprises since but the government has been less than helpful in managing anything to do with this place. Vandalism and graffiti have taken its toll and who knows what might happen to these heritage buildings in the future.

I am looking forward to seeing how she manages her poetry of such a dark place.

Well, I am off to the gym soon on the bus so I will move along here and leave you with a photo or two to cheer this post up a bit.

Our spring tulips from Botanical garden.
A small bandicoot that was also feeling safe at the gardens. They are small marsupials. Only found in Australia.

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