Review: The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr


About The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

This is the story of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie.

Lena is Music’s Most Modern Musician; the first theremin player of the twentieth century.

From the obscurity of a Perth boarding school to a glittering career on the world stage, Lena Gaunt’s life will be made and torn apart by those she gives her heart to.

My Review

A potent story of passion, love and loss mixed with stunning prose. Tracy Farr’s stunning mesmerizing language will captivate your attention. Clearly an author telling a story masterfully, her words a tactile experience. Her description of the theremin is outstanding, you visualize as well as hear the instrument at the hands of Lena. She delves headfirst emotionally into Lena leaving you spent.

Lena Gaunt a woman of quiet strength, you understand her pain as she reflects on her past. A bohemian, fearless, goes with the wind until the unfairness of life strikes. Compartmentalization, her strength lessening, she’s a woman exhausted, tired of living stoically, self-medicating fails to sooth her prolonged agony. Farr knits a profound emotional connection with this protagonist, she’s dimensional and every emotion and feeling hidden resurfaces with extreme visibility.

“We all thought of ourselves as bohemian, as modern, as artists apart from the workaday world around us, and free from its morals and strictures, its curtain-twitching and mouth-pursing.”

The narrative was centered around music and art which I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of split narratives but in this instance it was done wonderfully. The premise of filming Lena emphasized her losses and heartbreak to both Lena and the reader, opening the proverbial Pandora’s box.

Between Farr’s marvelous writing and the in-depth sketch of Lena, this is one moving story, a story penetrating your heart and senses, memorable evocative and intense. Impressive debut from Farr, her originality, historical references marrying with fiction form a enthralling contemporary read.

About Tracy Farrtracy-farr-2013-colour-web-660

Tracy Farr is a novelist, short story writer, and former research scientist. She grew up in Perth, and has degrees in Science and Arts from the University of Western Australia. Since 1996 she’s lived in Wellington, New Zealand.

Tracy’s debut novel was The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt. Her short fiction has been published in anthologies and literary journals (including Westerly, Indigo and Sport). She’s been awarded writing residencies and fellowships in Australia and New Zealand, including the inaugural Mildura Writers Festival Residency and a Varuna Second Book Fellowship in 2015.

Varuna Second Book Fellowship (2015)
Barbara Jefferis Award (Shortlisted 2014)
Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award (Winner 2014)
Western Australian Premier’s Book Award (Shortlisted 2014)
Miles Franklin Literary Award (Longlisted 2014)
R.A.K. Mason Writers’ Fellowship (2014)
BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award (Runner-up 2001)

Connect with Tracy:   Website | Twitter | Facebook

Published September 1st 2013 by Fremantle


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