The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was reviewed in Books+Publishing Reviews (feature review, 30 May 2013 newsletter). Grateful thanks to Books+Publishing for permission to quote the full text of this subscriber-only review here.
The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Tracy Farr, Fremantle Press, September), 4 stars, reviewed by Katie Haydon, Books+Publishing Reviews, 30 May 2013.
To encompass a person’s whole life in a book is no mean feat, especially if the person has lived a full and adventuresome one. However, author Tracy Farr manages to do this seamlessly. (Dame) Lena Gaunt is old when you first meet her, but it’s quickly determined that age hasn’t wearied her. Since growing up in Singapore, music has been entwined in her life, having played the cello and then excelling at the theremin (or etherphone). With the help of a filmmaker who wants to make a documentary about her, Lena’s story unfolds. Going to and fro from the present time—1991—to the start of World War I through the 20s, 30s and 40s, Lena travels the world and becomes famous. Lena’s tie to the ocean is ever-present and this takes her to New Zealand and then back to Cottesloe in Perth, where she feels most at home. Unfortunately, I can’t give too much away as all is not revealed until the second half of the book. Suffice to say I was completely engrossed in Lena Gaunt’s heartfelt story. Older readers in particular will appreciate this book, as will music aficionados and lovers of the sea. ★★★★
As well as the review, an author Q+A, On the world stage: Tracy Farr on ‘The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt’, was published on the Books+Publishing website (subscriber-only content), www.booksellerandpublisher.com.au.