The Children’s Bach
McPhee Gribble, 96 pp, $14.95 pb
The characters in Helen Garner’s new novella The Children’s Bach make up the kind of social molecule in at least one of which all of us feature as an atom.
Athena, who emerges as the core character, runs a household of, initially, four: herself, her husband Dexter Fox (we are not told what surname Athena uses), and their sons Arthur and the ‘strange’ Billy. Then there’s Elizabeth, with whom Dexter once shared a student household, now brittle and prosperous; Elizabeth has a much younger sister called Vicki and a fickle but basically long-term lover called Philip, who has a twelve-year-old daughter called Poppy. Other characters, like Dexter’s father, put in the odd cameo appearance, but these seven hold the stage.