cover image This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial

Helen Garner. Text (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-922079-20-6

In this emotionally overwrought and dramatic account, Australian author Garner (The Spare Room) recounts her time following the trial of Robert Farquharson, a single father accused of killing his three sons by driving off the road and into a dam on Sept. 4, 2005 (Father’s Day in Australia). As Farquharson stands by his innocence, claiming a blackout due to a rare coughing condition, the state mounts a damning case against him, leading to an initial guilty verdict and a subsequent retrial. Garner is there for every step, coloring the proceedings with her own opinions and experiences. But it’s never entirely clear why Garner is so obsessed with this case, and why she feels the need to filter the information through her perceptions. “When I said I wanted to write about the trial, people looked at me in silence, with an expression I could not read,” she states. Upon visiting the graves of the dead children, “Often, in the seven years to come, I would regret that I had not simply blessed them that day and walked away.” Though the information is solid, and Garner provides a strong picture of the trial and murder case, the impact is lessened by her own internal musings. (Apr.)