Today is the day we begin reading The Edith Trilogy and this is the offical master post for all three books.
Grand Days was first published in 1993 in a magnificent hardcover edition complete with a cover featuring Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse (one of my favourite paintings). I picked up a sale copy in 2000 on a trip to Sydney. I then quickly acquired a copy of the hardcover of Dark Palace a few weeks later (for which Moorhouse won the 2001 Miles Franklin award). It featured a cover design with the Priestess of Delphi by John Collier. I loved these two books, and Edith, so much but at that point I thought the story was complete.
Moorhouse surprised me in 2011 by publishing a third book, Cold Light.
Sadly, by this time, my beloved copies of books one and two were no longer in my possession. When I moved to Sydney in 2008, I gave away oodles and oodles of books. It was a necessary evil. The only two books I have come to regret parting with at this time are Grand Days and Dark Palace.
This meant, though, that I did not have the dilemma in 2011 of different book cover styles. Cold Light did not come out as a hardback or with a pre-Raphaelite cover. At least I now have all three books in a matching set, even if I mourn the loss of the Waterhouse and Collier covers every time I pick them up!
My new paperback edition of Grand Days has 736 pages.
My first read through was in 2000. I was in my early thirties and I fell in love with Edith – hard. I thought she was the most splendid creature and underlined half the book. I marvelled at how well a male writer could imagine a female character, she felt so authentic and vibrant. I devoured the book in a matter of weeks. Dark Palace quickly followed.
Fast forward seven year.
I had a year to plan and prepare for my move to Sydney to be with Mr Books and his boys. Before I gave away some of my books, I determined to reread some of them, to see if they were keepers or not. I’m not sure why, but Grand Days failed to capture my attention second time around.
Perhaps I was too caught up in my own life-changing drama to take on Edith’s again? Maybe my expectations were too high? But it felt like I had out-grown Edith. She had stayed the same, but I had changed. I had moved on.
By 2011 I had come to doubt all of the above. I found myself ridiculously excited that a third book had been published. But would a third read live up to the first? Had I outgrow Edith or was the 2007 reread a case of bad timing? Until now I have been too nervous to find out.
For ten years I have been wondering how Moorhouse finished the trilogy. It’s time.
Meet Edith Campbell Berry, the woman all Australian women would like to be.
On a train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood in the dining car, makes his acquaintance over a lunch of six courses, and allows him to kiss her passionately.Their early intimacy binds them together once they reach Geneva and their posts at the newly created League of Nations. There, a heady idealism prevails over Edith and her young colleagues, and nothing seems beyond their grasp, certainly not world peace.
The exuberance of the times carries over into Geneva nights: Edith is drawn into a dark and glamorous underworld where, coaxed by Ambrose, she becomes more and more sexually adventurous. Reading Grand Days is a rare experience: it is vivid and wise, full of shocks of recognition and revelation. The final effect of the book is intoxicating and unplaceably original.
Readalongs that I host are pretty casual affairs. Join in as much or as little as you like. Bookmark this post to add any questions, quotes or observations that you’d like to share along the way. Simply leave a comment below or join in the Twitter conversation with #EdithReadalong
I will include any book reviews to the final wrap up post for easy reference.
- This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.