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The Happiness Glass, by Carol Lefevre.

April 28, 2019

The Happiness Glass
The Happiness Glass, by Carol Lefevre.  Spinifex Press, 2018.

4 stars

An intriguing mix of memoir and short stories tracing an Australian woman’s journey from childhood to old age.

Carol Lefevre is a native Australian who received her M.A. and her Ph.D. from the University of Adelaide where she teaches Creative Writing.  Her previous publications include two novels and a non-fiction book.  In her new book, the author describes her life in various countries, but in the end, she clings to her Australian roots.

As Lefevre explains in the acknowledgment section of The Happiness Glass, the book is deliberately created to bridge the genres of fact and fiction.  In it, she has taken stories that she has previously written and interwoven them with autobiographical musings.  Such an approach is fitting for a book like this one which raises questions of what can and cannot be known. She states emphatically that she is not Lily, the major character who appears throughout the book.   But as a reader, I had no clue as to which sections were meant to be factually about Lefevre.

Although The Happiness Glass spans Lily’s, or Lefevre’s life, the most unique and insightful sections for me were those which focused in different ways around rarely depicted aspects of motherhood.  These range from the inability to become pregnant to the eventual adoption of a child.  Despite the author’s painful efforts to have a child, the daughter leaves her family as a teenager and disappears.  The author’s anguish is raw as she questions what she could have done differently; what she could have done better

I found this to be a powerful book that touches not only on fact and fiction, but also on motherhood at the core of women’s lives.  I recommend it gladly.  Thanks as always to Spinifex Press for publishing books like this one.

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