Valley of Grace
Allen & Unwin, $29.95 pb, 247 pp
It is characteristic of Marion Halligan’s work to celebrate surfaces, how things look and taste. Wine and good food matter, as do décor, old houses, antique furniture, and books, gardens and architecture. Valley of Grace is set in a strongly realised contemporary Paris, and the novel is very much about how Parisians live now. The past is also important, not only as the source of a revered aesthetic but as a legacy that shapes the present. The central plot device is an antiquarian bookshop in the Latin Quarter and the social and professional interactions of the characters connected with it. The main focus of the novel is upon the lives of two generations of women.