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She takes walks with her dog, Rod, whose imposing appearance obscures the fact that he's terrified of other animals. It's on one of these walks that Frances spots, in one of the gardens she frequently passes, a woman in distinctive clothes, and experiences 'a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stilled'.

Springtime: A Ghost Story

Before this, there is an early glimpse of ghostly happenings to come when Frances remembers Charlie's mother, who, like hers, was French. She was 'a drunk' who stole from Charlie, but in the present day of the story she is dead: 'that meant Charlie was free of her, Frances believed'.

The ominous suggestion inherent in this belief is obvious - it seems naive on Frances's part to assume this, and of course, the ghost story subtitle leads the reader to suspect that the continuing presence of Charlie's mother may well turn out to be literal. She can't quite pinpoint the house the garden belongs to - 'it merged with the sun in Frances's mind: it was something else that shifted about and wasn't always where she looked'. However, the story makes these experiences as opaque as the sightings themselves. It moves on, to talk about Frances and Charlie's complicated relationship, the menacing presence of his ex-wife, and Frances's difficulties in dealing with his son, Luke.

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At home, they receive mysterious phone calls which consist of nothing but a computerised female voice saying only 'goodbye'; Frances suspects they are somehow the ex-wife's work, but can't prove it. The longest single scene, although it's fractured and scattered throughout the narrative, depicts a dinner party which sharply illustrates the tensions between Frances and Charlie, as well as Frances's feelings of not fitting, being conspicuously out of place. Talk turns to ghosts, and here de Kretser puts her cards on the table with a tongue-in-cheek flourish, as one attendee, a writer, theorises: 'ghost stories work up to a shock, but the modern form of the short story is different.

When a loose, open kind of story came in, writing about ghosts went out'. Springtime is both that loose, open kind of story this character mentions, and a story about ghosts that works up to a shock, albeit a dulled one. It's at this point, wishing only to provoke another guest, that Frances is compelled to confess her own experience, and in the process, begins to feel frightened herself for the first time. The 'ghost' only becomes a real threat when it is spoken about, having hitherto only hovered around the edges of a story that is more about the difficulties of ordinary life and relationships.

When the secret of the ghost is revealed, it's benign, even mundane, though not without a twist of something macabre. If there is anything frightening here, it's the everyday things like Frances's uncertainty about Charlie, and their inability to talk to one another clearly about the things that matter; and while his mother doesn't hang around the couple as some sort of apparition, Frances sees echoes of her in Charlie, in the same way that she sees echoes of Charlie's ex-wife in Luke. An epilogue set eight years later shows that things - as we might expect - are much changed for Frances, but links with her old life remain.

This underlines the spirit of transience that seems to be the book's major theme - the scene of Frances's sightings of the ghost can't be fixed in her mind, and her trust in Charlie fluctuates, as do her feelings for him, her belief in her work, and her certainty of her own place in the world. While very short - probably too short, really, to have been published as a novella in its own right although it seems to be available only as an ebook in the UK - Springtime presents a beautiful, unexpectedly eerie portrait of believable and nuanced characters.

And this is why it's so clever, as well as quite daring, that de Kretser's story is explicitly positioned as a ghost story. The reader is given certain expectations which are bound to colour their experience of the tale, what they do and don't take away from it. Personally, I wouldn't categorise this as a ghost story in the traditional sense, but as a self-contained short story and a character study, it is an excellent piece of work, with layers that demand to be unpicked.

View 1 comment. Aug 28, Greg rated it liked it Shelves: fiction , girls-girls-girls. Two and a half stars? I feel like I missed something in this short novella. And because of all the glowing reviews on the back of the book I feel like it's my fault and because the structure felt disjointed at times and left me wondering if the weird layout of putting decorative illustrated pages right in the middle of the text was supposed to mean something, or if it was just a mistake in layout. This either wasn't that good, or just more proof that I'm getting dumber and more like the people Two and a half stars?

This either wasn't that good, or just more proof that I'm getting dumber and more like the people the main character in this book despises. Maybe it's time to finally give Dan Brown a shot no, not really, that's just in reference to something in the book, I haven't lost my reading attention span that much yet. View all 3 comments. Oct 14, Jenny Reading Envy rated it really liked it Shelves: to-be-haunted , location-australia , read , around-the-world. I read this in October because the subtitle makes it sound like a ghost story.

Marie Wallin - SPRINGTIME – Marie Wallin Shop

And while the character does encounter a mysterious creature, it isn't a ghost story in the traditional sense. She notices the flowers an I read this in October because the subtitle makes it sound like a ghost story. She notices the flowers and plants, and how different they are. She notices how people interact with one another.

And she notices a woman in an old-fashioned dress Ghost story? Twenty-eight-year-old Frances, a Bryn Mawr graduate, moves from Melbourne to Sydney in the spring of She is to take up a research fellowship for a book about objects in eighteenth-century French portraits. Her new place will be shared with Rod, her lb. Apart Ghost story? In a ghost story I expect tension to linger and questions to remain unanswered.

What I think she is trying to do here is show that ghosts can be people we have known and loved or, alternatively, places we have left behind. There is some nice descriptive writing e. I am used to cold, dark, usually Western European settings in ghost stories, where atmosphere is built, and the sinister creeps into the scenes which we expect.

De Kretser's novel, instead, is set during the springtime in Sydney, Australia. I therefore ordered a copy immediately. There are several odd occurrences within it, but it is not a ghost story which harks to conventions of the genre. Of de Kretser's authorial decisions, Andrew Wilson writes: ' Charlie and Frances, our protagonists, have moved from trendy Melbourne to more traditional Sydney, so that Frances can take up a position as a research fellow. They make their journey with 'an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis.

Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even. At the outset, de Kretser explores how her new surroundings make her feel: 'She was still getting used to the explosive Sydney spring. It produced hip-high azaleas with blooms as big as fists. Like the shifty sun, these distortions of scale disturbed.

Julian Ovenden sings 'Younger than Springtime' with the John Wilson Orchestra

Frances stared into a green-centred white flower, thinking, "I'm not young any more. She was twenty-eight. She is a 'solitary, studious girl, whose life had taken place in books; at least four years of it had passed in the eighteenth century. Almost immediately, de Kretser makes subtle suggestions, planting seeds in the mind of her reader: 'Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the shadowy depths of the garden.

She wore a little hat and a trailing pink dress; a white hand emerged from her sleeve. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stilled. In Frances' new city, ' Where were the hip, rusting-steel facades, Melbourne's conjuring of post-industrial decay? The decrepitude in their western suburb was real: boarded-up shops, cracked pavements, shabby terrace houses sagging behind stupendous trees. At night they slept entwined like bare sheets.

It was a tyrant, punishing anyone who dared to look at it. Small parrots shrieked with self-importance. Their emerald broke savagely on the brassy sheen. De Kretser manages to make a setting which many readers would think of as idyllic, into something with dark edges.

It is told using rather short, unnamed chapters, which add to the sense of tension. I found the story absorbing from the outset, and found myself really caring about Frances, who felt like a realistic character. The crafting of the plot is tight, and it feels as though not a single sentence has been wasted. It is a revealing novella, which has a lot of depth to it, and is ultimately quite powerful.

View all 4 comments. I liked this playful little book. Mildly provocatively, it plays up the Melbourne-Sydney rivalry, and it subverts its own genre. There are exquisite colour plates of ethereal flowers interleaved amongst the pages, the colour scheme contained to the soft brown and black of the dust-jacket.

The photographs are by Torkil G I liked this playful little book. This gorgeousness is, of course, intended for the Christmas gift market, a slim book easily slipped into Christmas stockings and priced just right for Kris Kringle. But Frances is surrounded by ghosts, not the least of which is the ghost of Melbourne, the city she belongs in and has uprooted herself from.

So disappointing. When did the art of the ghost story become lost? When did a mildly supernatural or unexplained twist become the easy way for a writer shoehorn in some kind of point to an otherwise unremarkable short story? There have been a few lately. But by adding a couple of details and a twist so understated as to be almost soporific, it a So disappointing. But by adding a couple of details and a twist so understated as to be almost soporific, it allows the publisher to put 'A Ghost Story' on the cover, making it a more commercial sale.

This is really not much more than a short story packaged as a novel. It barely qualifies as a novella, padded out with large type and plenty of white space to reach even this meagre something page count. But there's not even enough here to justify the number of words it has - stretched across so many unnecessary scenes and characters as the author attempts to somehow stumble across a plot.

As a result, this is an attempt at literary storytelling that ends up just rambling in a disjointed, virtually stream-of-conscious manner, continually introducing characters and situations that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. What ever happened to short stories being condensed and tightly written? Unless there's some odd metaphorical thing going on here that I'm too dim to see. It's basically an overlong essay on moving from Melbourne to Sydney with a partner you probably should have dumped. I say probably - the book really doesn't even give their relationship a proper arc by which to judge the author's intentions - thereby making their scenes together so much padding.

IN fact, there are more pages devoted to the differences between Sydney and Melbourne than there are at any attempt at creepiness or ghosts. I think anyone attempting to write ghost stories today should at least go back and steep themselves in the works of M R James,Dickens, Blackwood, even more recent writers such as Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. Y'know, actually understand the genre before attempting to write it. There's a very brief discussion of the nature of the ghost story on page 56 so my attention peaked for a millisecond.

When a loose, open kind of story came in, writing about ghosts went out. What struck me straight away was how old the main character appeared to be. Frances is mentioned as being in her twenties and in a relatively new relationship but somehow she comes across as much older, more the age of the author herself. Frances has recently moved to Sydney from Melbourne and is very disorientated. I love the way she has to gradually get to to know this new city. The decrepitude in their western suburb was real; boarded up shops, cracked pavements, shabby terrace houses sagging behind stupendous trees.

She is standing in the depths of an old garden and with her is a bull terrier. On following walks, Frances has trouble locating the exact house where she saw the woman and the dog. Kretser handles the subtle but all pervading mood of alienation really well. He was watching a documentary about giraffes. So too is the twist.

Recommended for those readers looking for something a little different. Jan 11, Dzalima rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-u-s-author. I think that by calling it a ghost story, the author was also suggesting that Frances is haunted in a metaphorical way.

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She's haunted by Charlie's ex-wife, an enigma she knows only from Facebook and the telephone conversations she overhears Charlie's son, Luke, having with her over the phone. Frances is also haunted by the ghost of her romance with Charlie, a hotblooded whirlwind thing that bore him away from his family and into her arms -- but what has it become? And who is Charlie, anyway? An old man with a bad back, a man who doesn't defend her at dinner parties.

Charlie's dead, drunk French mother is another spectre. This is a book about how life can haunt us, how ghosts can be real people walking around in other parts of the world, spooking us by their unknowability, and our inability to forget them. Objects can also be haunted, the book makes that connection through France's subject of study the objects in French paintings.

Luke's left-behind Legos haunt Frances. The tiger-balm haunts her. Even their neighborhood in Sydney seems shaggy and haunted by lost prosperity. I could write a whole paper about this book but I won't. Suffice it to say that I thought it was really good, gorgeously written. De Krester is an artist and I'd like to read more of her work.

Nothing Says Springtime on Mars Like Explosions of Sand

This little book definitely deserves a better rating. I requested this for review because though I own de Kretser's award winning Questions of Travel I have yet to read it. Springtime is an introspective little piece - a short story, presented in hardcover, smaller than a mass paperback with largish type rather than a novella. It is a brief portrait of a woman facing the uncertainty and impermanence of change, time and fate. The tone is ethereal, the language graceful but it didn't really speak to me beyond that. If you have read a review of Springtime you have basically read the ghost story already.

The novella is so short as to be not much more than a short story and the ghost story is only one aspect of it. Two dinner guests in the story speculate on why ghost stories have waned. Joseph says, "Do you know this idea that electricity put an end to ghost stories? People stopped seeing ghosts when rooms were properly lit.

Ghost stories work up to a shock, but the modern form of the short story is different. I actually read the book twice because the first reading was so unsatisfactory that I thought I must have missed something. I didn't. As far as story goes, the book is disappointing.

The sense of Sydney is palpable and there are some beautiful images and passages, for example "Walking beside the river pushed ideas around her mind like chairs" and "The river had turned to fierce, colourless glass. Dec 02, Drew rated it really liked it. The slightness of this volume does have a drawback and that's simply that the whole thing flashes past and doesn't necessarily land with too much weight. But it's hard to tear your mind away from it and you'll find that, much like a ghost, it lingers long after the corporeal presence is gone.

It's a terrific subversion of the ghost story genre and one that I never imagined could work, until I closed the book and smiled purely because it did. A smart, simple story almost like one you might hear f The slightness of this volume does have a drawback and that's simply that the whole thing flashes past and doesn't necessarily land with too much weight. A smart, simple story almost like one you might hear from a friend and well worth the short read.

Sep 04, WndyJW rated it really liked it Shelves: indie-press , spooky-stories. This novella by Michelle de Kretser is a different kind of ghost story. It's not about the ghost, it's about how everything, real or imagined, known and unknown can haunt someone. The prose is excellent and I look forward to a longer book by de Kretser.

Jan 23, Mercedes rated it it was amazing.

  • Springtime pictures.
  • Problems of the Hegelian Dialectic: Dialectic Reconstructed as a Logic of Human Reality;
  • Financial Instrument Pricing Using C++!
  • Springtime In The Park.
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  • Springtime In The Park.
  • Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle.

Fantastic, quick read. Haunting, but not in a dark way. It was haunting in a creative, ethereal way. It's rare that such a short story is so fulfilling, interesting, and also leaves me wanting more. Oct 11, Sara rated it really liked it. A very short novel that I enjoyed and that gave me something to think about. It is billed as a ghost story but it is also a story of a woman and her dog and a woman and her new relationship. It also delves into relationships between friends and acquaintances.

There is so much in this lovely little book I may read it again! Plus it takes place in Australia, a place I've never been. Christmas in summer! A delicious read! De Kretser has said that she won't be writing any more novels but I'm glad she was tempted to put together this little gem which you can actually read while your husband is preparing the dinner I did!

I guess her high literary profile gave her publishers the confidence to put out a hardcover short story, beautifully presented. I'm not a fan of ghost stories and it wasn't the ghost story aspect that drew me into this book although I did appreciate the way she solved one myster A delicious read! I'm not a fan of ghost stories and it wasn't the ghost story aspect that drew me into this book although I did appreciate the way she solved one mystery while creating another with her twist at the end. As warming progresses, the ice cracks, violently releasing the gas trapped under it.

As it explodes through the ice, it carries dark sand with it. The image also shows different types of dunes that form on the planet. Those are called barchan dunes, or crescent dunes. Those dunes can grow larger and join with each other to from barchanoid ridges. Barchan dunes tell us which way the prevailing wind blows: the curved tips point downwind. The image shows, again, a dune field, but this time inside a crater. The same type of springtime sublimation is present in that image, with geysers or explosions of buried CO2 ice bursting through the surface ice and carrying sand with it.

In this dune field, the sand is carried down the face of the dunes. There are different ways of measuring and marking seasons on Mars, but this method is used by some scientists. The European Planetary Science Congress will meet this week to discuss, among other things, results and images from the Trace Gas Orbiter.