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This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by [Garner, Helen]
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This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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''The Joan Didion of Australia' writes a masterful book about a real-life family tragedy... .Her voice - intimate yet sharp, wry yet urgent - inspires trust as she pursues a twice-told tale that reveals an unsettling truth as relevant outside the courtroom as inside it: we tell ourselves stories in order to live but also in order to take revenge, to share guilt, to prolong pain, to blur memory and motive.'-The Atlantic

'Two books in one: an expertly reported, brilliantly written story and, woven into that, Garner's meditation on the meaning of that story.'-Head Butler

'As involving, heart-rending and unsettling a read as you could possibly find, a true-life account of three deaths and a trial that leaves you with a profound sense of unease as its drama unfolds, and disturbing questions about how we judge guilt and innocence... Tailor-made for those who have gorged recently on the popular true-crime podcast Serial.'-The Times

'A gripping account of a murder trial in which few of the participants act and react in ways we might predict. It's an examination not just of what happened, but also of what we prefer to believe and what we cannot face believing.'-Julian Barnes

'This House of Grief has all the trademark Helen Garner touches: harrowing scenes recorded without restraint or censorship; touching observations of characters' weaknesses; wry moments of humor. And also customary with Garner's work, her words, and the boys' fate, will haunt us long after we've turned the last page.'-Guardian

'Compassionate and dispassionate in equal measure, Helen Garner takes us into the courtroom and shows a melting-pot of venality. She writes with a profound understanding of human vulnerability, and of the subtle workings of love, memory and remorse.'-Economist

'A masterful picture of the imperfect mechanisms of justice wound into a heartbreaking tale of sorrow and loss... It's been a long time since I read a book that gripped me so wholly... Justice, Garner easily demonstrates, can disintegrate into a matter of how bored the jury is. She has a Jane Austen-like ability to whizz an arrow straight into the truest depths of human nature, including her own, with minimal observation. For Fans of: Janet Malcolm, Ann Rule.'-The Life Sentence

'[A] masterful account of the trial of Robert Farquharson for the 2005 deaths of his three sons... The details of the story are fascinating, and Garner's crystal-clear writing serves the story well. But the chief impression we are left with is of the complexity of human nature and the impossibility of any justice system to fully account for it... the resulting book is both troubling and deeply satisfying.'-Books|ut

'The twists and turns of this true-crime story are, in Garner's hands, more engrossing and dramatic than any thriller. Really, this is the kind of book you'll devour in one go.'-Age

'A magnificent book about the majesty of the law and the terrible matter of the human heart. It has its center a feeling of the engulfing powers of love and hate and the way any heart unlucky enough may kill the thing it loves and drown in an eternity of grief. If you read nothing else this year, read this story of the sorrow and pity of innocents drowned and the specters and enigmas of guilt.'-Weekend Australian

'Clear-eyed and deeply moving... Garner's skills as a novelist combine with her journalist incisiveness to give a vivid, compassionate and complex assessment of the crime and the societal issues surrounding it... This House of Grief is a book that preys on the mind-its themes are enormous, classical and highly contemporary. Some readers will find they have to put it down, now and again, because the story it tells is so tragically sad-but so compelling that they won't put it down for long.'-NZ Herald

'A superbly balanced book about a terribly freighted subject: a violation of parental care of the kind that provokes outrage rather than thoughtfulness. It is also an elegant reiteration of many of the themes and concerns that Garner has, over four decades, made her own.'-Saturday Paper

'A brilliant, poetic work of jurisprudence... Another beauty of Garner's writing is her exceptional lyricism. Garner's spare, clean style flowers into magnificent poetry.'-Australian Book Review

'Superbly done. Garner is one of the finest reporters in this country... In the crimes and misdemeanours we commit against one another, she has always found clues to being human.'-Monthly

'No one can invoke the theater of the law the way Helen Garner does. It isn't just her acute mind for human psychology or her shimmering gift for metaphor, the masterly economy and dramatic poise with which she shaped the material.'-Sydney Morning Herald

'Garner sat through [all the trials]: sifting the evidence, observing the duelling lawyers, digging deep into the relationships which contributed to the catastrophe. She has turned a courtroom drama into something deeply human.'-Australian Women's Weekly

'Helen Garner's greatest skill is to encourage the reader not to make judgement but to listen.'-Jill Eddington, Best Books of the Year,Weekend Australian

'A top-quality page-turner. Garner has the gift of universal sympathy: nothing human is alien to her.'-David Free, Best Books of the Year,Weekend Australian

'Here's clarity, ferocity and the seesawing ambivalence of love: it took my breath away.'-Ashley Hay, Best Books of the Year,Weekend Australian

'Tender and electrifying.This House of Grief is Helen Garner's masterpiece.'-Saturday Paper

'Garner is perhaps most easily introduced to new American readers as the Joan Didion of Australia - a person who writes with a diamond drill, depicting human relationships with such brutal clarity they seem to be rendered for the first time.'-Los Angeles Times

'A Molotov cocktail of a book... Her voice is full of unexpected humor.'-Minneapolis Star-Tribune

'A book so sensitive, sad, funny, and alive that it surely deserves an honored place on many shelves.'-Diana Athill,The Daily Telegraph (UK)

'Two women who have known each other for fifteen years, spending three weeks together with the weight of one crushing disease. How do we calculate what's important in our lives? Highly recommended.'-Library Journal (starred review)

'Only great fiction demands us to reset our moral compass and look at our value coordinates all over again.The Spare Room achieves this.'-The Times (UK)

'A perfect novel, imbued with all Garner's usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heart-breaking territory - the dying friend who comes to stay - and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer;The Spare Room is a great book.'-Peter Carey

'Cleanly-written, sharp, with the authority of lived experience but an artist's penetration of the issues. It provides a portrait very hard to erase, of a child's ego trapped in a failing and ageing body, and it raises uncomfortable questions: what are the limits of friendship? Who will care for a generation that thought it would never get old?' Hilary Mantel, author ofWolf Hall

'Swift, beautiful, and relentless,The Spare Room is a brutal novel in the best sense.'-Alice Sebold

Product Description

Winner, Ned Kelly Awards, Best True Crime, 2015
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, 2014

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.

Helen Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque's Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra. In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages. Helen Garner lives in Melbourne.

This House of Grief (Text) is a gripping account of a murder trial in which few of the participants act and react in ways we might predict. It’s an examination not just of what happened, but also of what we prefer to believe and what we cannot face believing.’ Julian Barnes, Books of the Year, TLS

‘Helen Garner’s account of the trial is a non-literary variation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1966).’ Eileen Battersby, Books of the Year, Irish Times

‘Helen Garner is an invaluable guide into harrowing territory and offers powerful and unforgettable insights. This House of Grief, in its restraint and control, bears comparison with In Cold Blood.’ Kate Atkinson

‘As involving, heart-rending and unsettling a read as you could possibly find, a true-life account of three deaths and a trial that leaves you with a profound sense of unease as its drama unfolds, and disturbing questions about how we judge guilt and innocence.’ The Times

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, Weekend Australian

‘[Garner] has turned a courtroom drama into something deeply human.’ Jennifer Byrne, Australian Women’s Weekly

‘It grabbed me by the throat in the same way that the podcast series “Serial” did. Ms. Garner brilliantly and compassionately recounts the harrowing, real-life trial of Robert Farquharson.’ Gillian Anderson, Wall Street Journal, Books of the Year 2015

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1124 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Text Publishing (Aug. 20 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KK3NT3C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #128,209 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
On Father’s Day in 2005, Robert Farquharson drove his old Holden Commodore into a dam in Victoria. He escaped, his three young sons Jai (10), Tyler (7) and Bailey (2) drowned. Was it an accident? Or was it deliberate? Farquharson claimed that he had a coughing fit that rendered him unconscious, but he was found guilty of murder.

‘I mean, I mean, what sort of thing’s going to happen to me now?’

Ms Garner’s focus in this book is not on the details of the deaths of the three boys, instead she focusses on the sad, failed relationship between their parents: Robert Farquharson and Cindy Gambino. Ms Garner sat through the various trials held over a number of years, with her knitting and the teenaged daughter of a friend as her most frequent companions. She followed the trial from Farquharson’s initial court appearance in Geelong, to his failed appeal to the High Court in 2013.

Like so many of us who followed the case at the time, Ms Garner struggled with the reality of a father taking the lives of his three sons in what seems to be revenge on his ex-wife.

Farquharson was twice found guilty of the murders of Jai, Tyler and Bailey, but it’s still hard to accept, especially if Farquharson loved his sons as he claimed. The boys died a horrible death by drowning. What loving parent could do that?

Robert Farquharson was angry with his wife for leaving him for another man, and for taking the ‘good’ car. Ten months later, Jai, Tyler and Bailey are drowned. This is a difficult case: we wanted (needed?) to believe that Robert Farquharson was innocent, and that the deaths of the boys was a horrible accident. Instead of duty, love and protection for his sons, Robert Farquharson seems to have been consumed by hatred and revenge of his ex-wife.
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Really well told story. Garner keeps you wondering about intent to kill through all the details of the trial evidence. I was only one- third through the book but was already recommending it to friends.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa23db3a8) out of 5 stars 102 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa47996c0) out of 5 stars Heart-breakingly sad, yet informative and balanced. Sept. 15 2014
By Kirsten - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the story of a high-profile Australian tragedy - a recently separated father drives off the road into a dam, and manages to escape out of the sinking car, leaving his three small sons grappling to undo their seat belts in the dark cold water. Only the father survived. Robert Farquharson claimed he had blacked out during a coughing fit, losing control of the car. But the physical evidence showed that the car had turned sharply and cleanly into the dam at a regular speed, without skidding or spinning out of control.
Garner's opening cry, "Let this be an accident" is echoed throughout the book, by court watchers, family, witnesses and most heart-rending of all, Cindy Gambino, the mother of the lost boys and estranged wife of Robert.
With a compassionate, non-judgemental eye, Garner looks at the evidence and wonders how we judge a person guilty - is it the evidence, or is it the character of the accused? As she watches Farquharson's strong maternal sisters support him, Garner quotes a legal friend who says "If I was appearing for him, I'd try to make his family see that loving him doesn't mean they have to believe he's innocent."
The style of this book is melodic and mournful, yet the evidence is clearly represented and easy to follow, so readers can make their own balanced assessment. If you enjoy this book, you will also be interested to ready "Have you seen Simone" by Virginia Peters, as she uses a similar style to tell a true crime story.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4799858) out of 5 stars Eloquent Aug. 21 2014
By Poto - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this down. Garner describes beautifully and is a master of the telling detail. The reader feels we are there at the court with her. Just like Joe Cinque's Consolation, which I also loved, this book captures grief, frailty, awkward truths and doubts. It gives us insight into the surreal world of our court system.
HASH(0xa2b15084) out of 5 stars Good writing, not very exciting June 30 2015
By Eddie Wannabee - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written but a little on the repetitive side, the murder trial drags on and on, and after a while it became a tedious read. Not all crime books are equal, and the story told on this one is rather personal for the author, and the analysis that goes back and forth made me jump pages, something I prefer not to do, but choose over enduring a slow book. 3.5 Stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa39acdbc) out of 5 stars A Must Read Aug. 14 2015
By The Maestro - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a book that is a must read for anyone wanting to see the workings of a trial, twice told! I bought it in one of the few bookshops left in Melbourne, Australia and it sat on the bookshelf for a while before I got around to reading it. Then I just had to finish it even though I knew what the end result was. It dominated the Australian media for years when the case ran. You cannot have been in Melbourne if you did not hear of it from Father's Day 2005 onwards.

This is such a compelling read which has Helen Garner, the observer, at the trial of Robert Farquharson who is convicted of the murder of his three children in revenge for his wife leaving him and then taking up with another man.

She makes many wry observations of the main characters or players in the story and leaves you wanting to read more. There is a sense that the book was finished after the first trial and Helen by then was exhausted. The re-trial doesn't have the same steam as the first but this masterful writer holds you in the whole time.

This should be a text book on any law course involving justice and the court room process. The manner in which the barristers play to the jury and how they lose them; how some witnesses parry with the barristers and some win or lose. Little things that seem to impact on a juror more than others. I found this an absorbing read and picked up many points that even with many years of court experience, I'd not fully noticed. This book would make a great film and it has to be one of the best books I've ever read.
HASH(0xa33973e4) out of 5 stars Hard to Put this Book Down! June 17 2015
By Meryl Osse - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book about a sensational murder trial in Australia in 2006. About what goes on in a courtroom and how high emotions and boredom can happen almost simultaneously. Hard to put down. A journalist dedication to a subject for 7 years.