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Autumn Laing

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  407 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Autumn Laing has long outlived the legendary circle of artists she cultivated in the 1930s. Now 'old and skeleton gaunt', she reflects on her tumultuous relationship with the abundantly talented Pat Donlon and the effect it had on her husband, on Pat's wife and the body of work which launched Pat's career. A brilliantly alive and insistently energetic story of love, loyalt ...more
Hardcover, 1, 464 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Allen & Unwin (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
I know there are many readers who adore the writing style of this book, but unfortunately I am not one of them. The endless descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, punctuated by reminiscences of childhood that do nothing to advance plot or character, combined with interminable, repetitive, rambling, ungrammatical navel-gazing by some of the most boring characters ever to be committed to print made this almost impossible to read. It reminded me of the sort of work submitted by earnest but talentless ...more
Sandy Hogarth
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn’t enjoy Autumn Laing as much as Journey to the Stone Country or Lovesong, perhaps because it was more city based with less of Miller’s lyrical prose giving us the outback and the Australian Desert. I am a strong fan of his writing.
I found the switching of time periods sometimes distracting.
Autumn Laing is married to her rather quiet and long suffering husband, Arthur, when she meets Pat Dolon and they become lovers. Pat’s wife, Edith is pregnant.
‘This is Autumn’s story:’ They are all de
Annabel Smith
Mar 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, australian
This is the 2nd Alex Miller novel I've tried and abandoned. I really disliked the narrative voice and didn't even make it to page 30.
Renée Heaton
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this novel. Alex Miller is a poignant and insightful master of literary fiction. His ability to almost become his characters is demonstrated here beyond criticism. I was immersed in Autumn, throughout the entire story. I actually loved reading her as her older self. I wish I could explain why with some brilliant words, because I feel like I need to after reading such an excellent piece of writing. Put simply she gave me insight in to getting older, but I could also connect bec ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Alex Miller is one of Australia’s most famous and awarded literary writers yet, for some reason, I’d never read any of his work. When, after reading yet another glowing review of his most recent novel Autumn Laing I saw that very same book on display at the library, I figured the universe was telling me it was time to fill this literary hole of knowledge so I picked up the book and took it home with me.

The eponymous Autumn Laing is loosely based on Sunday Reed who, with her husband John, ran a k
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: australia
Another book fictionalising the lives of artists? Well, yes, and no. Alex Miller’s latest novel, Autumn Laing is loosely based on Sunday Reed’s notorious affair with Sidney Nolan, but really, it has more in common with Matthias Politycki’s Next World Novella than other recent fictionalisations reviewed on my blog. (Visit the URL below for the link). Miller’s book is a reflection on life and a plea for redemption.

A page-turner it’s not. Very little actually happens as Autumn Laing looks back over
Catherine Abbott
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not quite sure what this book was trying to say. If it was a meant to be a book about a art movement in Austalia- it did not get the point across. I found it strange reading a book set just before world war 2 when there was absolutley no mention of it. Maybe that was the way it was in the Australian rich and famous - no regard for politics just art. There were parts I enjoyed reading, the stories and voices of the other characters, but I found the voice and thoughts of Autumn irritating and I di ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter-challenge
This is a beautifully written book that evokes many emotions and brings to life a Melbourne of the past. Alex Miller's ability to write from the perspective of a female character and to do it so well, is reminiscent of Ian McEwan. You feel immersed in the lives of Autumn,Edith, Pat and Arthur.
You feel for them and what they experience and although you may not always like them, you cannot resist them. Even the minor characters in this book stay with you.
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book. Autmn reminded me very strongly of an elderly artist I once knew. The book was a little slow and somewhat indulgent for the first half but progressed at a different pace in the second half. I loved Autumn; her personality and her life story. I loved the imagery (local Melburnian here!). Alex Miller is a wonderful author. His novels are each very different.
Majella Matthews
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I really struggled to rate this book, which is why I have taken so long to review it. It certainly is not my favourite of Miller's novels. I was looking forward to reading it because it is a fictionalised account of Sunday Reed and Sydney Nolan, so the premise of the story is engaging and it is well written. I found the main protagonist, Autumn Laing's, recounting of her life rather melodramatic; this may simply be because she is presented as a highly-strung character and may simply be a literar ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
'Autumn Laing' is loosely based on the relationship between Sidney Nolan and Sunday Reed, and revolves around the eponymous Autumn and her circle of artist and poet friends in late 1930s Melbourne, and the affair she has with the artist Pat Donlon. It takes the form of a memoir written by an 85-year old Autumn looking back on her life after she has seen Pat's ex-wife Edith on the street after more than 50 years. Many of the chapters are written in the first person and are about Autumn now and he ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, kindle
As someone who never reads reviews or even the description on the back of the book most of the time, I had no expectations about the book or even an idea of what it was about.

It reminded me a little of Anna Funder's 'All that I am', as I read this fairly recently and it is also about an Australian woman who, now in her old age, tells about her remarkable life.

It wasn't until Pat started painting up in Queensland that I began thinking that some of the ideas in the paintings seemed familiar &
Book Bazaar
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alex Miller is one of my favourite Australian authors and I am thrilled that he will be coming to the Central Coast to attend a dinner event for us when this book is launched in October.

This book is full of Miller's humour. Autumn Laing is a feisty old lady now, but was once a Sunday Reed style figure, influential with young artists and caught between her husband and an inspiring, talented young painter who was recreating the face of Australian art. I loved Autumn's crankiness and bluntness and
This novel is an outstanding example of the power of fiction to explore the possible inner lives of real people. Here, the imagined characters of Autumn and Arthur Laing and Pat Donlon (among others) reflect on real people, art patrons Sunday and John Reid (the Heide Circle) and Australian modernist artist Sidney Nolan. It is a fascinating setting as it embodies not only the inner turmoil of artistic expression, but also the drama of the artistic movements of the times, the rise of Modernism and ...more
David Sweeney
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
One shouldn't reduce books to the number of pages, but for the first 250 pages I was just SO irritated and couldn't care less about these people. I was also greatly irritated by the writing, as it very much written in "this is literature" manner. I found it all quite pretentious BUT the last 200 pages were quite rewarding. That said it was way too long.
BUT and BUT I was three quarters through the book when it occurred to me that the character Pat Donlan, the artist, must be based on Sidney Nolan
Meg Dunley
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Alex Miller is now one of my new favourite authors. This is the first of Alex's books i have read and I am truly grateful to him for his brilliant story telling. Thank you Alex for throwing me into the depth of Autumn Laing and Pat Donlan's lives. This is a story loosely based on Sydney Nolan and Sunday Reed and those involved in the art scene at the time when Sydney was about to come onto the scene in Australia. It is a story of love and betrayal, grief and acceptance, art and poetry ...more
Scarlett Murray
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book and was mourning for it after I had finished it - sometimes its not a good idea to read a book too fast. It is loosely based on the affair between Sidney Nolan and Sunday Reed but I had no knowledge of their affair before I picked up this book so was able to enjoy it purely as a work of fiction. This is what I like best in Miller's books: a small number of characters, heavily painted. Miller is sympathetic to everybody, there is no black and white, wrong or right ch ...more
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ilyhana Kennedy
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a pleasure it is to read Alex Miller.
His protagonist Autumn Laing emerges so clearly an old woman. When I think of the 'maleness' of the voice in "Lovesong", I'm amazed at the author's ability to immerse himself in the character of a female narrator.
Autumn Laing is such a wanderer, circuiting incidents in her life, going off on tangents, meandering through a maze of memories to eventually return to the present.
I love too that it is Australian and set around Melbourne where I've lived some y
Lisa Burns
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Alex Miller writes so beautifully but it did take me a while to get into this one. I wish I'd read the notes at the back explaining the loose correlations between the characters in the book & Sidney Nolan & Sunday Reed, as I spend a lot of time at Heidi, it would have made it a lot more interesting. I just didn't warm to any of the characters, which is hard work, and the ones who actually were sympathetic characters were very much secondary & taken advantage of. That being said, the ...more
Maeve Castles
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think Alex Miller has demonstrated his superior skills as a novelist here, putting a magnifying glass to the character's thoughts, feelings and behaviour in a way which thickens their stories, and which is all too rare in contemporary novels. At first I found it annoying that he was glossing over significant past events for Autumn but then I realised he was deliberately focusing on a narrow window of time in order to explore things in more depth. Kudos to writers who can get us to empathise wi ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Scrawled lines of green and gold and deep brown, random silver foil meanders, broken and uncertain in their courses … Australia was revealed to me as an elaborate multi-coloured etching: the vision of an unknown artist’s eye. A portrait of my country unfamiliar to me, wrinkled and crumpled, scratched and scoured, broken with abrupt shifts of tone and form, stains and inexplicable runs of colour one into the other, purple and rose madder, vast swatches of grey and fierce angry dragon spots of eme ...more
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on a recent trip to Australia in an airport bookstore. Love reading something local when I am traveling. This was lovely - if you like stories about elderly women reflecting on their life, the choices they made (not necessarily lovely ones) and also about Australia and art, and what does it mean to be an Australian artist. Not a 5 star read, but not 3 stars either. Well written, though if you like to like the characters in a book, this is probably not for you. These people are t ...more
Rachael McDiarmid
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gotta love advance reading copies to the book trade! I must say I enjoyed this much more than Lovesong (which to be perfectly honest, I could not understand what all the fuss - and awards - was about. To me it was pretty ordinary.) This one was much more interesting, the characters more appealing, and generally a much better read. Autumn Laing held your interest. She could also drive you nuts but she has gumption and I just found myself loving the character of her. I also enjoyed the writing and ...more
Meghan Douglas
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked Autumn as a character, even with her nastiness and narcissism. The story looped and meandered through her memory, slowly revealing different pieces of information about her past. But for all this, I felt a little disappointed with the story. It never really grabbed me; I was never completely sucked into the world Miller created. I found it easy to leave this book on the bedside table for a few days without returning to it.

Autumn Liang is loosely based on the life Melbourne art patron
Jacquie South
Having just written a review saying I never leave a book unfinished - except for the one I was just reviewing - I'm now going to say it again. I really tried to like this book, and have struggled on through about a quarter of it, but I am really having a hard time getting any enjoyment out of the experience at all. Boring. I will put it aside (it's already been sitting on my bedside under a pile of other books I've been reading in the meantime for ages) for a bit longer ... maybe I'll come back ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent structure and writing. Somewhat similar in approach to All That I Am but more effective. The central character is an old woman looking on back on her past and affair with an artist (Sidney Nolan?) - told partly in reminiscence, partly in past 3rd person narrative about events but not limited to the knowledge of the central character. This works better and more smoothly than might be expected. may be of less interest to non-Australians becasue of references to historical characterds, la ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this, better than 'Lovesong". Inspired by Heide, The Reeds and Sidney Nolan, this is a much more thinly disguised story than Steven Carroll's 'Spirit of Progress'. Miller is imagining what could have happened if Sunday Reed had lived for another 10 years. It is elegant, evocotive and the use of an editor for Autumn's memoir is really clever. Worth reading for Autumn's (Miller's) interpretation of what the Australian outback is, beautifully written. He is such an intelligent an ...more
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've struggled with other Alex Miller books but I loved this one and found it a page turner. His portrayal of Autumn as completely self centred and selfish was mesmerising and rang true (I know someone like her, whether she was in any way like Sunday Reed or not). The novel was a fascinating study of character and although Alex makes it very clear that it was fiction, it has made me keen to read the biography of Sunday and Heide.
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Alex Miller is one of Australia's best-loved writers, and winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2012.

Alex Miller is twice winner of Australia's premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award, first in 1993 for The Ancestor Game and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, in 1993 for The Ancestor Game. His fi
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