I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Joyful by Robert Hillman
Published by Text Publishing on April 23, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary, General
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Joyful is a remarkable, razor-sharp comedy of grief from one of Australia's most dynamic writers.
Leon Joyce's years with Tess Wachowicz began with an Emanuel Ungaro taffeta ballgown, part of his collection of women's attire kept in three wardrobes at the South Yarra house. The collection took in Givenchy, Jacques Fath, Schiaparelli, Madae Gres, Helmut Lang, Claire McCardell, Mainbocher, Miyake, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Dior, Travis Banton, Pucci and Antony Price.
Leon is a man unburdened by sexual desire. Nonetheless he adores his wife - only partly for the way she wears his exquisite collection of haute couture - and when she becomes ill and dies he is completely shattered.
Then he discovers her correspondence with an unknown lover, and his suffering veers towards madness.
Leon hunkers down at his neglected country property, Joyful, with the entire local supply of scotch whisky and a bizarre plan to retrieve (posthumously) Tess's devotion.
In this extraordinary comedy of grief, Robert Hillman evokes his characters, from the merely unconventional to the frankly deranged, with kindness, grace and wit. Joyful is a gift that will leave the reader deeply moved and filled with delight.
Robert Hillman has written a number of books including his 2004 memoir The Boy in the Green Suit, which won the National Biography Award. He lives in Warburton in Victoria's Yarra Valley.
Leon Joyce is a complicated non-complicated man. He does not feel traditional desire in the sexual manner but feels immensely towards objects of beauty. One of these objects is Tess Wachowicz; a women who fits his aesthetic ideal. He marries her knowing she has dalliances but is mostly content that they are meaningless and she only loves him. Upon her death he hears rumors of her loving another and the search for the truth takes him on an unexpected journey.
I really wanted to like this book, the premise was intriguing and I wanted to be drawn into this world. Unfortunately this was not the case. It took three times to get past the first twenty pages, and then it was a forced read to the end. None of the characters drew me in, unfortunately they were almost universal portrayed as pretty horrible. I kept hoping for some redeeming qualities or someone I could latch on to, but alas that never happened. The story was very full with description, way too much description. Sentence after sentence describing items and things made the read draining. One sentence alone had thirty-eight items described. I was half way thru and felt I had already read a War and Peace type tome. If you cut out the extra ¼ of the book that was used to describe things and gave Leon some quality that you could root for this could be an excellent read. Joyful had the potential to be an incredible read but sadly fell short for me.