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This gorgeous novel is the final title in Steven Carroll s award winning Glenroy series The series, set in the Melbourne suburb of Glenroy, began with the story of Vic, his wife Rita, and their only son Michael in The Art of the Engine Driver 2001 , and continued with The Gift Of Speed 2004 , The Time We Have Taken 2007 , Spirit of Progress 2011 , and Forever Young 2015 Now, going back in time to the origins of the family we have The Year of the Beast 2019.The story begins with Maryanne walking in the streets of Melbourne She is forty years old, unmarried and seven months pregnant with the child who will become Vic the engine driver It is 1917 and the second conscription referendum is in full swing Carroll, evoking recent memories of the divisive Marriage Equality plebiscite, notes correctly that this so called referendum was actually a plebiscite, but, checking this, I found that it s not just popular history that has it wrong by referring to it as a referendum All of the historical documentation refer to the ballot as a referendum, even though it did not involve a proposal to amend the Australian Constitution Because it was not an amendment to the constitution, it had no legal force, it did not require approval in a majority of states and residents of federal territories were able to vote Such a ballot is now usually referred to as a plebiscite to distinguish it from a referendum to alter the Constitution Wikipedia, viewed 6 2 19 This distinction points to a significant aspect of the story a plebiscite, as a powerful indication of the people s will, evokes passion in a way that never happens with Australian referenda to amend our uninspiring and bureaucratic constitution As the blurb says Melbourne, 1917 the times are tumultuous, the city is in the grip of a kind of madness The Great War is raging, and it is the time of the hotly contested second conscription referendum Fights are raging on the streets, rallies for YES and NO facing off against each other on opposing corners Men, women and children, jostling, brawling, fighting and spitting.Maryanne, on the edge of the crowd, perceives the maelstrom as a beast, a terrible world for her baby to be born intoTo read the rest of my review please visit Never in my wildest dreams would I claim to be capable of wordsmithery to the finely honed marvel of literary excellence that Steven Carroll presents to the Australian reading public, doing so for several decades now His Glenroy series his novels revolving around TS Eliot have been a mainstay in my own book perusing life for quite a while, with one of the above titles inspiring a little scribing of my own A New England Affair tells part of the history of the aforementioned poet s both restrained yet tumultuous private life that of his longstanding and unconsummated relationship with fellow American Emily Hale In it we encounter both his wives as well the first being Vivienne Haigh Wood Marrying her in haste was largely the best way he could see to dispose of his virginity His second spouse, Valerie, wedded him in his later life She finally gave him some private bliss and sexual satisfaction She was only touched on in the novel, but I was fascinated that Valerie was around forty years his junior What was her motivation in marrying such an ageing beau was she a gold digger for fame by association and or financial security, or was there genuine love in the mix I turned to the ether to find out and discovered it seems to have been the latter I was able to flesh her out a tad and produced a blog piece, entitled Gap , as a result stevelovell.id.au 2019 03 23 gap This revolved around her life with perhaps the greatest poet of last century, mixed in with a tale of a retired teacher and a salesperson from Kaboodle If you re so inclined, please do read it but it does contain prose that is a little spicy.In A New England Affair we encounter Miss Hale, at age 74, when she has retreated into her inner person, the outcome of her final rejection years before by Tom Eliot She is making a journey of significance by ketch out to the Dry Salvages, a notorious rock formation off her country s North East coast It is of importance to her because of a halcyon period she spent with her man of letters back in the day in the area She takes this journey with an ageing seafarer at the helm a journey to dispose of memories a journey fraught with danger as there s a storm a brewing Over the course of making the crossing she casts her mind back to those days when she had hopes, as well as to those when she had none to when her dream was shattered There were two moments when she could have possibly had what she wanted, so she reappraises those and what might have been The problem was that their sameness got in the way Both were socially withdrawn unable to adequately communicate their real feelings Eliot was hampered by his faith and of course, later on, by a wife he had little affection for, but much guilt because of He did go on to find Valerie Hale went on to shrivel.More cerebral reviewers than I have pointed to allusions in the book to verses in his poetry, as well as to the works of Henry James and Jane Austen I can t claim to be nearly that savvy It was the waste of almost, but not quite, two lives that got to me One was renewed by a less corseted younger woman, with that taking me to another place.Another of Carroll s tomes had been sitting on my shelves for some time it was, in fact, one of the six works of fiction from his examination of the Yarra City suburb of Glenroy With supposedly the final offering of those being released in early 19, I decided I d better tackle this one too.In 1946 Sidney Nolan painted one of the author s forebears, Katherine Carroll The artist had read a newspaper report of a woman living on the fringes of the city in a manner long past His take on her became the painting Woman and Tent Carroll weaves her story into both Spirit of Progress and that sixth publication, The Year of the Beast The earlier novel also features The Art of the Engine Driver s first in the series engine driver Vic, his wife Rita, a Nolanesque dauber in Sam and a journalist, George He is the reporter who has discovered a strange older woman living in a tent, with few of the modern amenities by then taken for granted Sam is in love with an art gallery owner who, unfortunately for him, is just out of reach, prompting him to consider being part of the diaspora of arty types back to the Mother Country Meanwhile, a solitary farmer, by whose land Katherine is camped, develops some feelings for her, becoming, to an extent, her keeper And on the fringes lurks a developer, a portent of the Melbourne to come.It s an enthralling read, as is the last of the one s focusing on this part of the city, but one that takes us from the 1940s back to the conscription debates of the Great War The normally sedate metropolis is in turmoil, with the seething masses of protesters, for and against, filling the streets Here we again encounter a younger Katherine as a stern and religious sister to Maryanne, a single mother to be with the older woman doing her best to assist in the final stages of her pregnancy Maryanne has already lost her teaching job because of her dalliance with the child s father and when word gets out that he is a small town draper of German extraction, she loses her community standing as well You can imagine how all that goes down back then In the mix is a footballer who falls from grace, as well, in a city awash with anti Hun sentiment shades of today s antipathy, in some quarters, to those who follow the Islamic faith He s suspected of spying for the enemy, whereas it is another secret he is harbouring Milhaus is assisted by an unexpected ally in Maryanne in his unburdening of it Then we have Father Geoghan, on a god s mission to save Maryanne from herself.At some stage I must do an audit of what I ve read of Carroll s writings and try to fill in the gaps so I can boast I have consumed all of his oeuvre But never fear each book can be read as a stand alone, such is the writer s skill But with the six books on the one burb and the three that has Eliot involved, Carroll has created his own beast I also loved his earlier works from late last century Remember Me, Jimmy James and The Love Story of Lucy McBride If you too decide to slip into some Steven Carroll, I feel confident he will enchant and engross. Fate had singled her out Chronologically, The Year of the Beast is the beginning of Steven Carroll s award winning Glenroy series The series is set in the Melbourne suburb of Glenroy, and contains the following books The Art of the Engine Driver 2001 , The Gift of Speed 2004 , The Time We Have Taken 2007 , Spirit of Progress 2011 , Forever Young 2015 and The Year of the Beast 2019 In The Art of the Engine Driver we meet Vic Carroll, his wife Rita and their son Michael In The Year of the Beast , Mr Carroll returns to the origins of Vic and his family.In 1917, Maryanne Carroll is forty years old, unmarried and pregnant In the future, her baby will become Vic the engine driver In 1917, as Maryanne walks around the streets of Melbourne, sometimes restless and unable to settle, debate about the second conscription referendum is underway The nation is divided rallies for Yes and No bring out some of the worst of humanity the beast is apparent Maryanne is concerned about the world into which her baby will be born But where is her world For surely this isn t it Is it travelling towards her, or is she travelling towards it Maryanne s sister Katherine one of my favourite character in this series is living with her, helping prepare for the birth of the baby Father Geoghan, the local priest, wants Maryanne to relinquish her baby The baby must be saved She and Katherine travel to a foundling home where Maryanne thinks the word is wrong Because they re not found They ve been given away Abandoned even And so Maryanne, who has lost her position as a teacher, determines that she will raise the baby herself We learn something about the father of Maryanne s baby, about the choices he makes As we walk with Maryanne, we see the sometimes vicious confrontations between supporters of Yes and No and perhaps less likely amicable discussion between Archbishop Daniel Mannix and Prime Minister William Hughes.Mr Carroll brings the turmoil of 1917 to life The beast is both the war and the fight over conscription It is also the inhumanity demonstrated both to Maryanne and others who don t fit neatly within society s defined roles.I ve read this novel twice I ve read most not yet all of the Glenroy series I love the way in which Mr Carroll develops the setting of his novels, providing just the right space for me to understand mostly his characters and appreciate the factors that form them This novel has provided me with the perfect keystone for the series It has also given me an opportunity to reflect on how Australia has developed over the one hundred years covered in the series However much the past may rise up before us, and however much its ghosts may sit at our tables, however much it may haunt us at varying times, however much it may be present, it is also the past And the distant, the mysterious Note My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.Jennifer Cameron Smith A really good central character and a glimpse into a familiar world at an unfamiliar time I find Carroll s writing a little slow at times lots of internal reflection and not much action but this was an interesting read. He Is One Of The Best We Ve Ever Had Geraldine BrooksOne Of Australia S Finest And Most Critically Acclaimed Writers Returns With A Powerful Novel That Goes Back To The Very Beginning Of The Story, To Bring His Sweeping Glenroy Series To A Magnificent CloseMelbourne, The Times Are Tumultuous, The City Is In The Grip Of A Kind Of Madness The Great War Is Raging, And It Is The Time Of The Hotly Contested Second Conscription Referendum Fights Are Raging On The Streets, Rallies For YES And NO Facing Off Against Each Other On Opposing Corners Men, Women And Children, Jostling, Brawling, Fighting And SpittingThrough These Streets Walks Maryanne, Forty Years Old, Unmarried And Seven Months Pregnant These Are Uncertain, Dangerous Times For A Woman In Her Position And She Is Facing A Difficult Choice A Choice Which Gets Urgent By The Day Whether To Give Her Child Up For Adoption As The Church Insists She Does, Or To Keep Her Child And Face An Uncertain FutureA Powerful Novel Of A Time, A City And A Woman, The Year Of The Beast Is Steven Carroll At His Best A Rhythmic, Insistent And Pulsing Novel That Tells A Compelling Story Of Mothers, Families, And What It Means To Be An Individual, Standing Against The Surge Of The Crowd Regardless of being curious about a male author writing about a pregnant woman in the 1920s, I really wanted to like this book But it just left me wanting.The parts about Maryanne, becoming pregnant and wanting to keep the baby were real and understandable But the very real worry, that a single pregnant woman must have had of surviving, let alone flourishing, in that era, left me perplexed as the number one issue not The Beast not society of the day not her sister not her lost job or half baked romance but money Rarely was mentioned Unless I missed something major which is always a possibility , the idea of coping without parental support, a job, and income, was rarely addressed Sure her sister supported her and they lived in a house, but how did her sister make her money And whose house was it anyway Was it hers and her sister s Their dead parents A rental And as for her sister leaving her some money, how much money, how long would it last, would she continue to send money from her life on the road with a swag and a gun And as for Viktor, why was she so obssessed with his inability to support her emotionally, let alone financially, when their rest of their affair was so half hearted and she admitted she hardly knew him, or like him To me, how I would survive financially, would be my number one fear Not being able to support myself or the child Forget The Beast, it soon died down, or lay in wait to pounce another day Give me specifics on the budgetary situation so I could then move on with the plot.The imbalance in this novel wasn t just on that one plot point, but also in the amount of time spent in discussion about certain lives Maybe the style was such that certain other character aka the young Vic would never rate of a few paragraphs mention of his life, but his son, Michael, took up the baton in the latter stages And this left me with questions too Why Paris Did Maryanne even have a link to Paris at that stage, or was that in the next book in the series I was confused.I haven t read any of Carroll s other books, so maybe that let me down I had hoped this novel would be standalone.I also found the relationship with the suffragette and activist Vera compelling and then it too just fizzled out When Maryanne and Vera reconnected in a crowd after the baby was born, seemed a strange finality for their relationship.I couldn t help but feel this line with Vera, as with Michael and Paris was a trail of breadcrumbs for the next novel.I did like the early days with her in the spa town, which I presume was Daylesford It was vivid for me and allowed me to paint a picture Yet, even though she was a teacher, there was little about her classes or her teaching or her ideas or thoughts around it I know it was the backdrop to meeting Viktor, but surely as an independent woman, it should have been than that, and that needed fleshing out The back room of the schoolhouse where they had sex seemed to get description I found the repetition of the phrases the beast shining scales we were not the usual run and crafty bitch etc tiresome Show me the beast Show me how Maryanne and her sister Katherine weren t usual Besides the rifle and the swag, I didn t get much sense of Katherine as well Where did she wander off too What did she do there How did she make money, how did she stay safe, what had happened in her previous travels Father Geoghan and Milhaus were well drawn, but Madame X, like her name, remained an enigma and their final denouement almost neatly Pre Raphaelite in its conclusion.The silent babies with their feeler hands in the air was quite possibly, the most poignant part of the novel I spoke with a student who was adopted and she gave me on that.More than anything, I want to know how Carroll came to writing from the point of view of a pregnant woman in the 1920s Was it part of his family history How did he did deep into that independent single feminine world that he must have nurtured inside him to flesh Maryanne out I was distracted by all my questions and it really took away from my investment in Maryanne and her child, so much so, that I was left with no empathy for the adult Vic as I really didn t know him, or know how or why he turned out the way he did and all the spaces in between, even though I really wanted to. I have re read all the Glenroy Series 1 5 this year in anticipation of this last novel being published, so my expectations were high I was not disappointed Although this is said to be the last , it is in fact a prequel Its focus is Maryanne, whose son Vic will be the engine driver of Glenroy 1 and whose grandson Michael will grow from boyhood to manhood and from aspiring cricketer to writer across the series Michael, in many ways Carroll s alter ego, has an elusive presence in this novel A silver jet crosses the sky of a Melbourne afternoon in 1917 a physical impossibility but we realise that this is the aircraft on which Michael wings his way to France in the 1970s In a way, Michael looks down on his grandmother as her story is told or as he is telling it In 1917 the newspapers continue to publish the names of the young dead from the war in faraway Europe Maryanne, pregnant with Vic, comes across a confrontation between the yes and no campaigners in the conscription plebiscite It is as if some fantastic metamorphosis is taking place in front of her And a storybook beast is coming to life before her eyes As if each of those faces has reached into the depths of its darkness and brought forth the beast that lurks there Always lurks there, waiting patiently Sometimes years, sometimes centuries But always there And now, its hour come, the beast roars, groans and writhes into life The very worst of humanity has risen and become this collective thing to which each of those massed faces gives the gift of its darkness, so that the beast may slouch into life and the world hear its groans For it has waited a long time, brooding in its cave, alone and forgotten, but always there And now, its moment come, the world will pay Against this background of violence and the struggle for peace, Maryanne has her own choices to make, her own destiny to forge Her decisions will be crucial in determining the path of her son, her daughter in law Rita and Michael She makes her decisions with the support of her sister Katherine a welcome return of this character from Spirit of Progress Glenroy 4 This novel has all the hallmarks of Carroll as a writer the mood of a historical period motifs that recur across 20th century Australia strong characters and a rhythmic, evocative prose A deeply satisfying book and series. I so admire Steven Carroll s writing and had eagerly awaited this last in his Glenroy series Taking the reader back to WWI and the turbulence of the 2nd conscription debate in Australia, Carroll creates his protagonist, Maryanne, who has a family history to give birth to Forty years old, unmarried and seven months pregnant when the novel begins, as an outsider Maryanne astutely observes the beast that is the mob mentality, the darkness and hatred that have allowed the world to enter a kingdom of death, the war itself.The metaphor that Carroll creates is masterful and, as he explains in his author s note, is based on Freud s Id and on Dante s Inferno Descriptions of the madness that breeds such hatred are often breath taking in Maryanne s observations of what is happening in the rioting streets of Melbourne as conscription is endorsed by the followers of the Prime Minister Billy Hughes The very worst of humanity has risen and become this collective thing on which each of those massed faces gives the gift of its darkness , so that the beast may slouch into life and the world hear its groans As well, Maryanne is fighting against the hatred that is directed against her because of her decision to bear a child as an unmarried mother, a force set on her by the Church and by her community These two struggles against conformity portray the strength of character and of conviction in remaining an individual against a tide of collective hatred Carroll s skillful phrasing, the mood evoking rhythm of his writing, and his compelling storyline are matched by the complexity of his characters This is another novel to savour by one of Australia s contemporary masters Loved it Set in my hometown but in the era of my parents youth I actually saw Archbishop Mannix in my own childhood and when he died all the Catholic schoolchildren had to file past his open coffin a terrifying sight As a 14 year old, I was taken in a school group by the nuns to visit the Broadmeadows home for mothers and babies That place haunted me for years and yes, just as he describes the babies did not cry What had they done to them to keep them so quiet Why am I mentioning all this Because there was so much about MaryAnne s story that I completely understood I knew exactly that look of disgust given to her by the interfering and judgemental priest I knew the gossiping neighbours who dared to pour scorn on her pregnant state I understood her innocence and trust I loved her bravery and her courage in choosing to keep her precious son This was my first Steven Carroll book and I look forward to reading lots in the Glenroy series. This is the sixth and final book in Carroll s Glenroy novels I have only read two others in the series and like the others, this is a stand alone novel It is set in Victoria predominantly in 1917 18 and is a prequel to the series In this book, Maryanne, the free thinking spinster will give birth to Vic, the train driver of the later series Maryanne lives in Daylesford Hepburn Springs and has a lustful relationship with Vicktor, a German born haberdasher She falls pregnant and decides to have the child The book is set against the background of a country, enmeshed in war, divided by the Conscription issue and with a rampant collective unconscious that Carroll sees as the beast unleashed against anything that is different An unmarried mother, a German s whore or even a football hero with a German name, who comes crashing to earth with accusations of treasons.