Loose-knit tale of sex and a sleuth

Madame Bo­vary’s Hab­er­dash­ery

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Liam Dav­i­son

By Mau­rilia Mee­han Tran­sit Lounge, 270pp, $29.95

SMALL Melbourne pub­lisher Tran­sit Lounge is no stranger to risk-tak­ing fic­tion, dur­ing the past decade build­ing an ex­cit­ing list that pushes at bound­aries and draws its share of ac­co­lades. Mau­rilia Mee­han’s fifth novel, Madame Bo­vary’s Hab­er­dash­ery, her first with Tran­sit, is a com­fort­able fit and wel­come ad­di­tion. That it may not be ev­ery­one’s cup of As­sam goes with the ter­ri­tory.

A main char­ac­ter who takes refuge in an over­sized tea-cosy and an­other en­gaged in imag­i­nary con­ver­sa­tion with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple may in­di­cate this is not your con­ven­tional work of fic­tion. Fans of Mee­han’s ear­lier work would be dis­ap­pointed if it were. Mee­han’s in­ter­est is as much the neu­roses and emo­tional lives of women as it is the ar­che­typal struc­tures that of­fer mean­ing to their frac­tured lives.

To echo one of Mee­han’s wit­ti­cisms, Gus­tave Flaubert’s Madame Bo­vary looms large over the novel’s pro­ceed­ings with­out ac­tu­ally thread­ing her nee­dle. Zac is a wom­an­is­ing Flaubert scholar work­ing on a new, de­fin­i­tive trans­la­tion of the novel,

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