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on Jan. 22, 2015 :
Psyche’s Garden is mythic fiction of a sophisticated literary variety, and mythology enthusiasts should be excited by this novel. Myfanwy Tilley successfully conveys the metaphysical elements of the ancient Psyche and Cupid myth into a contemporary Australian social and environmental landscape. This novel can indeed be read at many levels, but I particularly enjoyed the treatment of (Neo-) Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies (and several of their ‘philosophical descendants’), along which lines the story proceeds and the characters play their part, as well as illuminating ways of how we understand our world. But this novel delves deeper than purely a western cultural understanding of the world. There is reference - although never explicit - to Australian indigenous religion, reminding the reader that ways of viewing the world are culturally determined. The beginning of the novel is whimsical at times, but the reader is gradually drawn into a very sombre world filled with delusion, madness and violence. However, there is redemption, and the novel ends happily enough and with a promise of renewal. The author’s descriptions are evocative. The prose is often beautiful and, at other times, exquisitely poetic. This is a book I would very much like to have on my bookshelf.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)
on Jan. 05, 2015 :
Psyche’s Garden is a gripping and powerful literary novel, and it works at a number of levels - as an exploration of relationships (some aspects of style reminded me of Margaret Atwood); as a mystery of the ‘whodunnit’ variety (although the mystery is a complex and complicated one); as a history of human greed and the inevitable results of this across generations; and as an account of environmental destruction battling it out with environmental resurrection (the environment being both metaphor and the very real South Australian landscape). The writing is strong, the dialogue is convincing, and the descriptions of the Australian countryside in decline and drought (and finally in the process of redemption) are riveting. There is an element of magic realism, which is not my favourite genre - but this is handled with subtlety, and overall it enhances the narrative. This book is not a quick and easy read - it demands active engagement with the vital clues to characters and their histories and motivations, and it requires full concentration. But the effort put into reading this book brings rich rewards, and I strongly recommend it. To the author I say - write some more!
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)