On reading Adelaide

Adelaide, by Kerryn Goldsworthy

I’ve just finished reading Kerryn Goldsworthy’s book, Adelaide. I first started it early this year, but then put it down as paid work took control of my life. I have spent most of the year gulping down great wodges of fantasy and historical reading: all twelve Poldark books and the Harry Potter series and Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games books. Some of this was very satisfying, but eventually, it all started to feel like too much chocolate. So I picked up Adelaide again.

What a wonderful book. I read the first few chapters at speed, learning some of the history of Adelaide. But then I slowed down, enjoying Kerryn’s way with words, and the images she describes, and her sense of livingness and presence in Adelaide. I read the last three chapters very slowly indeed, just a few pages each night, because I didn’t want to finish the book. It is part history, part memoir, part reflection on living. Kerryn cleverly, and very sensitively, writes an account of being Adelaide, not just knowing its history, or its tourism high points, but what it is to be part of the city.

This passage especially spoke to me, as I find my life more full than ever in the provincial city where I live now.

…it’s hard to believe that when we were young, so many of us thought Adelaide had nothing to give us; that being left off some touring star’s itinerary, because the profits from a smaller population weren’t big enough to cancel out the nuisance of adding an extra leg to the tour, was enough to make us feel that our city wasn’t good enough for us either. I now think we were simply projecting, mistaking ‘Adelaide’ for what was in fact the sketchy thinness, so far, of our own young lives reflected back at us.

Yes. Just so.

Kerryn’s book has made Adelaide come alive again for me. I want to visit Adelaide again, to see again the friends I made while we were there, to feel the hot sun on my skin, wander through the glories of the Central Market, contemplate the statues on North Terrace, understand the city a little more.

Just today, word has come that we may be able to visit there for a week or two in January. I am so very pleased.

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2 comments on “On reading Adelaide

  1. Mindy says:

    I have visited Adelaide briefly in the past, but never for long. I want to take the book with me as a guide and do my own tour in Kerryn’s footsteps. With the added bonus of perhaps being able to meet the author too 🙂

  2. Jan says:

    Oh how wonderful! You’re friends in Adelaide will be thrilled to see you and your lovely family. So looking forward to seeing you again

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