It is easy to see why this quirky and engaging book was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature (Non-fiction). It is a poignant and respectful collection of titbits of South Australian history pieced together as the author wanders the paths of the West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide. A book that could be used as a field guide, the short stories are compiled to tell of the lives of the inhabitants, often long forgotten.
Lefevre has carefully researched the stories behind the old and broken-down monuments that fill the cemetery which were built according to Col. William Light’s plans. She unearths and documents the stories of those who remain with a warm, friendly style. She comments that many stories will be forgotten if people don’t start to seek them out and document them. I am fully aware of this, having lost a great grandmother within the cemetery as her records were lost to flooding. It is one reason why this book resonates so well with me. It gives voice to many people who have lived, loved, struggled and prospered in times gone by.
This book is wonderfully structured so that you can read from cover to cover, choose a path and walk with the author or choose a person from the index and just see what their history involves. It invites its readers to begin the quest to explore those left behind and encourages the respect that each monument and person interred deserves. It divulges many hidden secrets and provides a commentary which draws you in.
A beautiful book to have, not hidden away in a bookcase but displayed for friends and family to thumb through at their leisure.
Reviewed by Leanne Caune
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: March 2015