This House of Grief

By Helen Garner Text Publishing


Helen Garner

Judges' report


It’s been ten years since Robert Farquharson’s car veered off a road in country Victoria after dark and careered into a dam, where his three sons, trapped inside, were drowned. Helen Garner’s unique brand of reportage is again evident in her account of the drowning and its aftermath, which largely took place in courtrooms, and which culminated in Farquharson’s conviction and imprisonment for the murder of his children.

In her exploration of the corrosively drawn-out process that followed in the courts, in the media, and in the community, Garner situates herself as a courtroom observer and reporter who does not claim dispassionate impartiality, but maintains a thoughtful, engaged, open-minded commentary that invites readers’ responses. With her trademark stylistic precision and lucidity, she shows how her own and everyone else’s immediate human reactions to such a story – horror, sympathy, empathy, instinct – are balanced against the relentlessly formal logic and causality that shape the due process of the law.

Further reading


Reviews:

This House of Grief is a magnificent book about the majesty of the law and the terrible matter of the human heart… If you read nothing else this year, read this story of the sorrow and pity of innocents drowned and the spectres and enigmas of guilt.’ – Peter Craven, The Australian

‘[Garner] has perfected a kind of negative capability in which she acts a focal point for the book’s themes, which are channelled through her reactions but resonate far beyond them.’ – James Ley, Sydney Review of Books

‘[U}tterly compelling, [and] arresting in a way that takes it far beyond the guilty, charged voyeurism of most true crime reading.’ – Guy Rundle, Crikey

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