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The settlement of Wahrheit, founded in exile to await the return of the Messiah, has been waiting longer than expected. Pastor Helfgott has begun to feel the subtle fraying of the community’s faith.
Then Matthias Orion shoots his wife and himself, on the very day their son Benedict returns home from boarding school.
Benedict is unmoored by shock, severed from his past and his future. Unable to be inside the house, unable to speak, he moves into the barn with the horses and chooks, relying on the animals’ strength and the rhythm of the working day to hold his shattered self together.
The pastor watches over Benedict through the year of his crazy grief: man and boy growing, each according to his own capacity, as they come to terms with the unknowable past and the frailties of being human.
‘Dog Boy is a wonderful novel, a tour de force.’
‘Hornung writes with extraordinary force and insight…an amazing feat of imaginative power.’
‘Astonishing…A strange, sombre, sobering triumph.’
‘There’s human violence and the strength of animals…just gripping.’
‘Vivid, visceral and disconcerting. The descriptions of animals are intensely empathetic, and the book raises fundamental and confronting questions about how our animal and our human selves can or should co-exist.’
‘Eight years after the magical, Prime Minister’s Literary Award-winning Dog Boy, what a joy it is to have another beautifully-wrought novel by Adelaide author Eva Hornung.’
‘Like all great literary fiction, The Last Garden provokes thought and empathy in equal measure. This visceral and utterly compelling new novel represents an ambitious new layer to Hornung’s continued investigation of the human condition, magnificently realised.’
‘This is a novel that is calm and patient in its telling, and almost hypnotic in its effect. What Hornung emphasises is that it’s neither our hopes for the future, nor the suffering of our pasts, that saves us. Rather, it’s in the act of living—the way we attune ourselves to the shifting demands of the world around us; the use we make of the time between “the first garden … and the last”—that redemption is to be found.’
‘It’s melancholy, beautiful, and deeply evocative. Michael Cathcart admitted to the writer that he knew he was going to love it from page one.’
‘Eva Hornung understands how critical human relationships with animals can be.’
‘Yes, there are grotesque and sinister surprises aplenty in this weird prodigy of a book, but there is a lot of tenderness and an extraordinary beauty too.’
‘Melancholy, beautiful, and deeply evocative.’
‘Full of symbolism but not overpowered by it, this is a powerful book, and the writing is mesmerising.’
‘The Last Garden is by no means a long read but it is a big novel. Hornung’s characters, in all their awed complexity, will stay with you long after the covers of this powerful book are closed.’
‘Hornung’s knowledge and deep respect for the spiritual and emotional relationships between humans and animals shine through in her exquisite, glittering prose. This gentle, literary novel is a moving meditation on the heavy mist of grief, and will bring back a dark solace to the tormented heart.’
‘Hornung is a writer of extraordinary power, using her omniscient narrator to inhabit the minds of Benedict’s father, the grieving child and the faltering pastor, following the flux of their thoughts with elegance and precision…An unusual and hypnotic novel.’