Thursday, 1 October 2009

Valley of grace by Marion Halligan

On Tuesday 29 September, 10 of us including the author Marion Halligan sat comfortably in Kate's house mulling over French lives, loves and babies. We started our discussion with comments about the amazing cake -- how does it stay together, had Marion eaten it -- yes but it was in a little bag (!) and she had never made it.

Marion was very generous with her memories of Paris in 1989 living near the Church whose creation is so central to a main theme of women and fertility. Her tale of writing the novel was fascinating -- it started life as a short story which had possibilities. We enjoyed hearing that her act of writing is pen and paper although she writes essays on the computer. She talked a little about writing erotica -- plenty of love in Fanny's life when Gerard appears. We heard about some of the characters including the Philosopher who is based on a Canberra academic and his wife who is so happy with her abandonment of him in preference to the god child. It was good to hear that all the answers are not known even for the author. The wild child was the Professor's offspring possibly and was so sad -- that lead to discussion about such children and Marion revealed that she had researched these children.

We talked of types of families in contemporary life and the growing trend of gay couples having children. Marion admitted that she considered a sad end for Claude and Agnes' baby but decided against it -- I am so pleased. She also talked of endings and the suddenness of this one.
The cover we decided is beautiful and its yellow rays appropriate for the story.

What also came out was Marion's love of Paris and the French and their cultured lives filled with books and good food, wine, chocolates and friends.

Next challenge is Pages -- Marion doesn't want to read it !

(Cover image courtesy Allen & Unwin)


  1. Well, good for you Sylvia ... and it didn't disappear at all - it just went, apparently, where it should have gone. I will add our standard Label of Meeting report and Review to your lovely Random thoughts one.

  2. Oh you lucky people, to have Marion Halligan attend your book group! I have been her devoted fan for years now, starting with Spider Cup in 1997, then Wishbone, and more-or-less everything else since, I think. I think she's one of our finest writers.
    Thanks for sharing your discussion, Sylvia:)
    Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers
    PS The Pages is a great book, and I'm sure you'll love it. I raved about how good it was here:

  3. Thanks, Lisa. It was an honour to have her. I'll read your review AFTER I've read it myself. It appears that Halligan is not a huge Bail fan...but I adored Eucalyptus. It's one of those books you (at least that's how I feel) don't forget.


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