Our Man Arty
Our Man Arty is a novel about a gardener who proves to be better than his "betters'.
Set in the 1930's in outer Melbourne, Arty is a gardener who takes on the gardens of the very different residents in a cul-de-sac and becomes part of the mute chorus in the background of their lives.
First published in 1994 the book's author, Lawrence Eager, was told by numerous publishers for over 10 years that no one would be interested in his novel. He wrote with the experience he'd gained during his working life, which included being Chief Propagator at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens and overseeing gardens for the Public Works Dept, and his knowledge of people.
He cleverly imparts down-to-earth gardening knowledge throughout the book to the reader, reflecting his belief in the then-growing maturity of Australians towards gardening in general.
It's a great little novel that encapsulates the social mores and attitudes of the between-the-wars period of time which also had its effect upon gardens and the way in which they were seen, dealt with and considered part of the social bearing upon the owner.
Unfortunately, Mr Eager lived just long enough to know that his "unpublishable" gardening novel was going to be published; I say unfortunately because it is a book that leaves you wanting to know more about Arty, his family and those who came to look upon the gardener as a font of wisdom in more areas than just their flower patch.
Labels: Our Man Arty