by Kristina Olsson, Simon & Schuster
A shimmering love letter to Sydney, with the husk of the emerging Opera House its beating heart. It’s 1965 and Pearl Keogh smokes roll-ups in Lorenzo’s back bar, arguing politics with fellow journalists and loving “the taste of insurrection”. It was from father Patrick she “winkled out his take on the world” at age 12, growing up in Balmain. Pearl’s civil service “contact” has leaked the ballot date of conscription for the Vietnam War, and “the news has assumed human faces” – her of-age brothers Jamie and Will. When she joins an anti-war protest, the news chief accuses her of breaking the rules “without fear or favour” and shunts her to the women’s pages. Running concurrent in Olsson’s unparalleled poignant prose is the construction of the Opera House by Dane Jorn Utzon. “It was more marine than earthly.” Axel Lindquist is the Swedish glassmaker Utzon hires to model an artwork for the foyer. Motherless Pearl and fatherless Axel take a ferry ride – the sea opens up and grief pours out. Was the child she was still in her? He had not yet loved a woman as he loved his mother. Required reading.