Book review: The Chemistry of Tears

The Chemistry of Tears
The Chemistry of Tears

The Chemistry of Tears

AUTHOR: Peter Carey

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Aust

RRP: 39.95

WHAT makes Peter Carey much sought-after by his readers?

As one of Australia's most popular novelists (The History of the Kelly Gang, Oscar and Lucinda amongst 17 earlier books) Carey's latest book is just as beautifully written and entertaining as its predecessors.

Written in his signature style, moving and witty at the same time, his narrative takes hold right from the beginning and maintains its pace throughout.

His heroine Catherine, a clock expert, has just heard the news that her colleague and married lover of seven years is dead.

Now she must hide her grief, since the affair was known only to her boss at London's Swinburne Museum.

In sympathy, he gives Catherine a special restoration project as something to cling onto: a box of intricate clockwork parts that are the remnants of a 19th century beautiful mechanical bird.

Now she uncovers the story of the man who commissioned this strange artefact as a "magical amusement" for his consumptive young son.

This twin narrative unfolds between modern London and Catherine's own story, and Germany in the 1850s.

As a portrait of love and loss, it is profoundly moving but leavened with Carey's characteristic whimsical humour together with his refined and polished narrative style, this is a most delightful read.

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