Lizzy Chandler's Reviews > Where The Light Falls

Where The Light Falls by Gretchen Shirm
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bookshelves: australian-women-writers, aww-challenge, literary

"Art is not about art. Art is about life." Gretchen Shirm's novel, Where the Light Falls, starts with this provocative epigraph - provocative because this is a novel which is most decidedly about art, the artist and the process of artistic creation.

A successful photographer living with his German girlfriend in Berlin, and about to hold a major exhibition in London, the protagonist, Andrew, hears news of the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend, Kirsten, back in Australia. Inexplicably, it seems, he jumps aboard the next plane and heads "home" to Sydney, jeopardising his relationship and his career in order to find out what has happened. As he delves into the past, his personality and life choices are revealed to the reader and subjected to his own forensic gaze. Guilt and self-doubt beset him as he weighs the price of pursuing his career as a photographic artist and portrait-maker. Questions arise for him, and for the reader. Is pursuing an artistic career worth the potential cost to oneself and others? What drives the artist? A desire to make sense of one's life? To express the ineffable? To connect?

At times when reading Where the Light Falls, I had the sense that I was reading a study in pathos, but only half expected a big emotional pay off at the end. Instead, Shirm held back, the emotion as restrained as the narrative. The dilemmas faced are awarded no easy solutions, but leave the reader with more than a glimmer of hope.

Where the Light Falls by Gretchen Shirm
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Reading Progress

January 15, 2017 – Started Reading
January 15, 2017 – Shelved
January 15, 2017 – Shelved as: australian-women-writers
January 15, 2017 – Shelved as: aww-challenge
January 15, 2017 – Shelved as: literary
January 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

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