Books+Publishing – Thursday, 18 September 2014
The Floating Garden
(four stars ⋆⋆⋆⋆)
Set in Sydney in the 1920s, The Floating Garden beautifully and evocatively portrays both the difficulties and the sense of promise in the post-war era. Through the eyes of Ellis and Rennie, we witness the changes in the tight-knit community of Milsons Point as Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge is built. The novel begins as landlady (and secret gardening writer) Ellis sees the last of her lodgers depart as the demolishers rapidly approach. Ellis appears to be trapped in the crumbling house by inertia and memories. Rennie, on the other hand, appears to have it all—a wealthy husband and a career of sorts as an exhibiting artist. Their worlds collide when Rennie knocks on Ellis’ door seeking refuge from her abusive husband…. This is Emma Ashmere’s first novel after a series of award-winning short stories. There is something quintessentially Australian about this book, and at times it reminded me of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.
Review by Rachel Wilson
Emma Ashmere’s short stories have appeared in The Age, Griffith Review, Spineless Wonders, Review of Australian Fiction, Sleepers Almanac, and on Brisbane billboards for #8wordstory. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Overland/NUW Fair Australia Prize, 2019 Newcastle Short Story Prize, and 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her debut novel The Floating Garden was shortlisted for the 2016 Small Press Network MUBA prize. Her short story collection will be published by Wakefield Press in 2020.