The Mint Lawn
"North Coast, New South Wales. Clementine is twenty-five and still living in the place where she grew up, rooted there by memories and her own inability to make changes until she has understood her past.
"That past is dominated by memories of her mother, and her mother's attempts to dramatise and enrich small-town life and the perceptions of her three, clever, receptive daughters.
"But only Clementine has stayed. Is this out of loyalty to her mother's memory? Or to comfort her father? Perhaps she wants to find peace with Hugh, the earnest husband in whose house she most uncomfortably lives? Or is Thomas the lure, who alone can appreciate Clementine's own sensuality, and her humour, but who must remain another of her secrets.
"Already widely known and praised for her short stories, Gillian Mears has written a wonderful debut novel which will be read with pleasure and remembered with joy."
"Most impressive is the controlled intensity of the writing ... powerful and beautifully balanced pages." - Katherine England, The Adelaide Advertiser
"She is probably the best young writer in Australia today." - Helen Elliott, Sunday Age
"Throughout, Gillian Mears writes like an angel. No matter what her subject matter, she seems incapable of writing prose that isn't lovely, clever and astonishingly observant." - Kate Veitch, Age
"Beautifully constructed, a story told with great assurance. For a writer so young, it is a major achievement." - Judith White, Sun-Herald
About the Author:
Gillian Mears spent her childhood on the banks of the big rivers in northern New South Wales. She completed a communicatons degree at Sydney University of Technology where she began to write fiction. She has been the recipient of several writing grants and short story prizes. In 1990 she received the Marten Bequest Scholarship to research her next book, to be set in Africa. She is again living in northern New South Wales. The Mint Lawn is her first novel, and with it she won the Australian/Vogel Literary Award.
I'm telling him about drug squad Alsatians when he begins to cry. He's quite far away, curled like a puppy on the collapsing curve of futon that was a wedding present from his parents. A sheet has rucked to reveal the beginning of a mildew problem on the mattress. Condensation dribbles down the inside of the coffee plunger until I push the grounds down hard. Outside, although it's nearly spring, the sky is wet and old-looking. My husband isn't crying because police dogs are heroin addicts from puppyhood, but I keep on relating the more intricate details. As a diversion, it isn't successful. His crying is a high, unlikely whine. Unable to comfort, I pat the nearest part, his ankle, then edge away from its bony coolness. Did my mother make Ventry cry like this? I pull my hair into a ponytail and don't know the certain answer. Did Ventry cry? Of course, of course. A clear memory exists but by then it was way too late.
Closer up, mildew is like a map. A faint grey outline of Tasmania is visible, heart-shaped and whole, so I watch this instead of a weeping husband. Through the doorway into the kitchen, the leftover sandwiches from lunch with Thomas are curling at the edges. Lightly, I hold my own hands, squeezing and unsqueezing them in time to his crying. My hands feel long and limp. Then his grief changes key. He's crying with his mouth stretched so wide I can see, against my will, years of coffee stains etched on the underside of his front teeth.
From the Allen and Unwin paperback edition, 1992.
This novel was the winner of the Australian/Vogel Award in 1990.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Larrikin Literature Page.
Last modified: May 16, 2001.