The Aunt's Story - discussion

SnakPatrick White 100th Anniversary Challenge

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The Aunt's Story - discussion

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Redigeret: jan 15, 2012, 12:22 am

Here are just a few thoughts:

I was spellbound by the densely poetic writing. It was slow reading but I wanted to linger and savour each word. So many quotable phrases and passages.
When Theodora was in Europe I became confused. I didn't know of the characters and events were real or imagined so I googled a synopsis. In the end I felt that all was partially real and partially imagined - a stream of consciousness had taken over.
My overall view? Ugly, disturbing, nihilistic and beautiful. Loved it.

jan 17, 2012, 6:30 am

Amanda, as I was reading my interpretation was that Theodora thought of herself as nobody, at best an aunt, and in the Jardin Exotique section seemed to be dreaming herself into other people's lives. It was hard to tell where the dream began and ended. I assumed that the characters were real, but that Theodora had inserted herself into their stories. To add another layer of complexity, not all the stories they told were true. I just drifted along here, accepting the confusion and marvelling at the writing.

In the other sections, Meroe and Holstius, the people were more down to earth and so was the language. I loved the way White sketched a character, devastatingly, in a few words.

jan 17, 2012, 6:59 am


I agree with your comments Pam. Meroe was perhaps the only section where everything was real.

So was Theodora doomed from the start? She seemed always to see and feel the world differently to other people. Do you think her life would have been different if her mother had not favoured Fanny? Or if Frank had chosen Theodora? Was Theodora a conduit for White's own view of the world? Shall look for an answer to the latter question.

jan 20, 2012, 3:08 am

Amanda, I think Theodora needed something useful to do, since she was never going to marry. Perhaps she does stand in for White, as an outsider who sees more and doesn't fit in.

Her life might have been different if her mother hadn't ignored who she was and treated her as a failure.

Redigeret: jan 22, 2012, 7:58 am

I've read that Theodora's mental deterioration is intended to represent the disintegration of Europe. And that the fire in the hotel is an omen which signals the oncoming war. If I am really looking forward to a book I don't read reviews, or even the blurb, so I had no indication of the European analogy until after I had read The Aunt's Story. I don't think it mattered.

apr 1, 2012, 6:13 pm

I finished The Aunt's Story yesterday. It is an excellent novel, but I found myself re-reading parts because it is also a complex novel.

My review is here

apr 1, 2012, 9:09 pm

#6 Fantastic review! I'm interested in what you say about feeling "half a step away" and I think I have found this in all of the White novels I've read. It hasn't made me dissatisfied with any of the works - I suppose I've just accepted it as being uniquely Patrick White. Hmmm.

apr 2, 2012, 5:58 pm

amanda, he is an intelligent writer and certainly in his early novels he does not get the reader too emotionally involved with his characters. I will be interested to see if this changes. The Treee of Man will be my next read.