Shell

by Kristina Ols­son, Si­mon & Schus­ter

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Christmas Baking -

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.

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