Vincenzo’s Garden by John Clanchy

Not one friend of mine on GR has read any book by this author. Having randomly plucked this off the shelf at a secondhand shop and never having heard of Clanchy myself, perhaps I should not be surprised. But he has won prizes in Australia and his books typically go through more than one edition.

None of which is surprising. These are highly accomplished examples of the short story form. Perhaps it is the counsellor in him, but I was struck in particular by his deep empathy with people of all types. Whether he is an elderly woman in a nursing home or a young man, an Australian or the family at the inn Van Gough stays at, he does it all to perfection. The stories are beguiling, credible, beautiful. Surprises have you saying, yes, of course, in that appreciative way when you should have seen it coming, but good writers make sure you don’t.

At least four stars and I’m going to be reading more.

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