The Hanging Garden

1 ratings 3 stars

A previously unpublished novel from the Australian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Subject: Classics
Book Setting: Lower North Shore of Sydney
The Hanging Garden, Patrick White

A previously unpublished novel from the Australian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Two children are brought to a wild garden on the shores of Sydney Harbour to shelter from the Second World War. The boy's mother has died in the Blitz. The girl is the daughter of a Sydney woman and a Communist executed in a Greek prison. In wartime Australia, these two children form an extraordinary bond as they negotiate the dangers of life as strangers abandoned on the far side of the world.

With the tenderness and rigour of an old, wise novelist, Patrick White explores the world of these children, the city of his childhood and the experience of war. The Hanging Garden ends as the news reaches Sydney of victory in Europe, and the children face their inevitable separation.

White put the novel aside at this point and how he planned to finish the work remains a mystery. But at his death in 1990 he left behind a masterpiece in the making.

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $19.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781742752662
    Published: 02/04/2013
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
    Extent: 240 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781742752679
    Published: 02/04/2012
    Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult
    Extent: 240 pages
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"The world is a richer place now that we have The Hanging Garden." - J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books

"The Hanging Garden is different and, for lovers of White’s work, hugely exciting. It depicts, with extraordinary delicacy, what goes on at that moment in life when the young mind is beginning to “make sense” of sensation. It is, I think, something entirely new in his work.
The Hanging Garden is a novel for our time — a story about parentless children, mistreated by a world that, by its lights, intends no harm but nonetheless does enduring damage. In an oblique way, “The Hanging Garden,” with its adoptee hero and heroine, supports that plea — that we should know our children better and feel their vulnerability, not recycle them or treat them like excrement." - John Sutherland, The New York Times

"What we have between these green covers is an unfinished, unedited sketch. It is also the late, virtuosic performance of a master. Here is White conjuring in 200 pages one of the most vivid, erotically charged, emotionally wrenching works of fiction, I've read this century.
It is a fitting coda to White's achievement. It reminded me of why I loved White, the thrill I'd had when I first fully entered his fictional world, the shock of realising this was an Australian writing about places and people I knew amplified to a grand scale, the ordinary become extraordinary." - Jane Gleeson-White, The Age

"Its shortcomings notwithstanding,The Hanging Garden returns fiction to greatness. Reading it brings exhilaration, tinged with dismay at our diminished expectations of the literary novel. White’s last book is hardly the summit of his fiction, but it feels like a gift." - Michelle deKretser, The Monthly

"We have learned by now to approach posthumous publications with suspicion. Too often they are fragments dressed up as full narratives, mediocrity passed off as genius. Once in a long while, however, if an executor is working in the author's best interest, and if outside advisers and publishers are intelligent and able, then a truly deserving work may be retrieved from oblivion to reanimate our sense of wonder at what a particular writer can do. The Hanging Garden is such a book." - Geordie Williamson, The Australian

"I've just finished reading a proof of Patrick White's novel, which he left unfinished at his death. Backstory: thirty years ago, white was the first contemporary, living, modernist novelist whom i read, loved and wolfed down in great quantities. I hadn't gone back to him for a long, long time so i was worried that he might have changed for the worse in my absence. He hadn't. The novel contains all the things I once loved about his writing. It's unfinished in the sense that it is (or so we assume) the first of the intended three parts of the novel, so it reads like a novella with an inconclusive ending, but I don't think most of white's readers are/were greatly driven by a desire to know what happens next. He's simply not that kind of writer. He is all about language and style and vision and sensuality. Thankfully, he seems to have carefully edited the text as it stands (he also, rather frighteningly, seems to have produced an exceptionally polished first draft), leaving only a couple of notes to himself and a handful of passages an editor might want to question (part of the fun of this kind of unfinished novel, is that you can play the editor)." - Mark Haddon

"A great wisdom informs each scene and yet we read swiftly and eagerly. There is a startlingly raw truth to this story which, for me, evoked long-forgotten memories. This is great writing for our time. Moving and beautiful, The Hanging Garden is a Patrick White novel we can all read with pleasure." - John Purcell, Australian Bookseller + Publisher

"It is an elegant, elegiac ending to a work that - however conceived in its full extent - brims with freshness and acuity. The Hanging Garden may be unfinished, but it does not feel incomplete." - Peter Pierce, The Canberra Times

"It's been a long time since I've been so shaken with admiration for a novel. He's a giant." - Geordie Williamson, Twitter

"Always engaging and intermittently brilliant." - Peter Conrad, Australian Book Review

Patrick White

Patrick White

Patrick White was born in England in 1912 and taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England at Cheltenham college and King's College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where he wrote several unpublished novels, then served in the RAF during the war. He returned to Australia after the war.
He became the most considerable figure in modern Australian literature, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The great poet of Australian landscape, he turned its vast empty spaces into great mythic landscapes of the soul. His position as a man of letters was controversial, provoked by his acerbic, unpredictable public statements and his belief that it is eccentric individuals who offer the only hope of salvation. He died in September 1990.