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This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial

by Helen Garner

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2591676,212 (4.16)11
Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain. On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father's Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner's obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict. In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice. This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia's most admired writers.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Very readable, and interesting, retelling of a tragic case and complex trial. As someone who remembered the sad deaths occurring, but didn't know how it had all been wrapped up (was overseas at the time), it was a heck of a ride. ( )
  jwryn | May 30, 2018 |
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. ( )
  brakketh | 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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Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain. On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father's Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner's obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict. In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice. This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia's most admired writers.

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