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Lovesong by Alex Miller

Lovesong (edition 2010)

by Alex Miller

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199659,063 (3.8)19
Authors:Alex Miller
Info:Allen & Unwin (2010), paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Modern Australian Lit.

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Lovesong by Alex Miller

  1. 00
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (jll1976)
    jll1976: There is the obvious 'Paris connection'. But, also a similar slow almost dreamlike quality. About the beauty of a 'simple' life.

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It seems I have found a 'new' author. I know this guy has been around, and writing for more than 30 years, but I had honestly never heard of him until recently. I'm so glad I did though. This guy can write.

http://wp.me/p1zSnI-4P ( )
  jll1976 | Nov 12, 2011 |
This didn’t blow me away at first - it’s a quiet, gentle novel – but I must say it grew on me afterwards as I reflected on it. Well worth reading.

The title suggests this will be a simple love story but it’s much more complex than that. The opening paragraph struck me as dull, disappointing and flat, but I came to realize it was actually heavy with meaning – a perfect start!

The core story is set in Paris, but it’s not the Paris we’re familiar with it – it’s on the ‘wrong side of the tracks', the Paris of immigrant workers. All the characters are outsiders, conflicted, partly seduced by Paris but with their heartland somewhere else. ( )
  RobinDawson | Nov 15, 2010 |
Almost-retired author Ken (do storytellers ever really retire?) becomes friends with a local family, and slowly teases out their story. Sabiha and John met, and fell in love, in Paris. But their lives did not go according to what they planned: Sabiha misses the child she feels she is destined to have; while John pines for his missing life in Australia. It was a rather nice meditation on how life can sometimes pass you by. And a rather scary demonstration on how to stop that from happening.

I'm not a big fan of Alex Miller's books (he's a contemplative writer, and I prefer more plot), but this was a very good read. I especially enjoyed being inside the mind of an author, planning and jealously guarding his story.

After finishing it, I did pick it apart a bit - same quibbles as with his previous book I'd read (Landscape of Farewell): the motivations of his characters didn't always convince me, they do tend towards the dramatic act, which makes for good reading, but it doesn't always ring true. Does that make it good literature? Or is that a failing? It's not like I'm always convinced of the motivations of the people around me, either, so maybe he's just capturing reality. ( )
1 vote wookiebender | Nov 10, 2010 |
I enjoyed the beginning of this novel, but found it just got slower and slower. This possibly matched how Sabiha and John's relationship starts to slow down/falter. Possibly I didn't enjoy it because I didn't like Sabiha much - I thought she was mean and selfish. ( )
  karynwhite | Sep 22, 2010 |
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I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready! The Song of Solomon.
For Stephanie and for our children Ross and Kate and for Erin
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When we first came to live in this area in the seventies there was a drycleaners next door to the bottle shop.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever.John is like no-one Sabiha has met before - his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage - a marriage of two cultures lived in a third - and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events. Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose - questions have no simple answer.Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.
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Summary: "Seeking shelter in a Parisian cafe from a sudden rainstorm, John Patterner meets the exotic Sabiha and his carefully mapped life changes forever. ... Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer"--publisher's description.… (more)

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