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This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder…

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial

by Helen Garner

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Very well written presentation of an Australian murder case. Robert Farquharson was charged with the triple murder of his children, driving them all into a dam where they drowned and he escaped. Helen Garner follows the crime through the court trial which she attended every day. She enlightens us to some personalities and she talks to people during break and sometimes gathers her own thoughts as they occurred at the time. I'd never heard of this case before so I found it a thrilling ride not knowing how it would end. It often reads as quickly as a novel and I was hooked by the opening scenes, as good as any fiction. ( )
  ElizaJane | Jan 25, 2017 |
The murder trial in question being the trial(s) of Robert Farquharson for the murder of his 3 sons in September 2005. Unlike much of the "true crime" genre, there's very little doubt about what happened, some debate about how it happened, and perhaps a little more about doubt about why it happened. But overall there's very little suspense here. What Garner is more interested in is the process of the trial - and she isn't impressed. Putting herself in the position of a juror, she attends every day of the trial(s) and tries to suspend judgment and pay attention to the evidence - whilst most of her friends, and colleagues in the press box jump to early conclusions and stick rigorously to those positions. But she finds herself being ground into submission, and observes jurors and even the judge being ground into submission - by days of tediously contested technical detail which it would be impossible for an honest citizen to decipher. She learns that procedure trumps the search for truth - there are questions that counsel may not ask for reasons of procedure rather than of justice. She finds the process of cross examination gruelling - the witness is never allowed to tell a story in his or her own words, and often is simply reduced to providing yes or no answers to questions they may not see the relevance of. In the end they will agree to anything to get of the stand. In the end, she learns that a juror cannot impassively weigh the evidence; in the end they will make judgment based on perceptions of character

And overall she finds the whole thing exhausting and tortuous. This House of Grief is full of images of exhaustion, burnout, the inability to take any more. And as such its a compelling and very useful narrative of how justice actually works ( )
  Opinionated | Jan 15, 2017 |
Garner is always brilliant. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
I read Helen Garner's "Monkey Grip" only recently, but much earlier I read her narratives of alleged sexual abuse at Ormond College, and a murder in Canberra. "This House of Grief" is in the same genre as the latter. A profound, insightful and gut-churning coverage of a murder trial that happened in a village I pass through regularly between home and Melbourne. Not a pleasant subject, but a riveting read nonetheless. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Sep 23, 2016 |
A very readable account of the trial and appeal of a father who was convicted of murdering his three young children in 2005. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jun 4, 2016 |
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Once there was a hard-working bloke who lived in a small Victorian country town with his wife and their three young sons.
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