Quiet City: Walking in West Terrace Cemetery is my first full length work of non-fiction. It took many years to research and write, although the stories were so absorbing that I barely noticed the time passing.
In this book I was able to combine writing with my love of making images. I hope this will be a template for future long form works of non-fiction.
I do not think that I believe in ghosts, but just for this morning, just for the time it will take to ramble through this quiet city under clouds the colour of tin, or of pigeons' wings, I am going to believe in them.
Ordinary lives are revealed as extraordinary, as Carol Lefevre traces the stories of some of the little-known inhabitants of Adelaide's historic West Terrace Cemetery: there is the tale of the man who fatally turned his back on a tiger, and the man who avoided one shipwreck only to perish in another; there is the story of the young woman who came home from a dance and drank belladonna, and those who died at the hands of one of South Australia's most notorious abortionists.
Said to be the most poetic place in Adelaide, in this heritage-listed burial ground the beginnings of the colony of South Australia are still within reach. Amid a sea of weather-bleached monuments, the excavated remains of Australia's oldest crematorium can be seen, and its quietest corner shelters the country's first dedicated military cemetery.
From archives, and headstones, the author recovers histories that time and weather threaten to obliterate. Quiet City is a book for everyone who has ever wandered through an old graveyard and wished its stones could speak.
Praise for Quiet City:
'Lefevre's touching, terrifying, courageous characters return to haunt us in this rich and companionable book - a treasure trove of social history and a fine writer's personal reflection on death and living.' - Nicholas Jose
'Part personal reflection, part speculative fiction, Quiet City is also history and biography, made up of many short sections and lyrical observations... Similar to W.G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn (described in The Guardian as a 'strange and moving work') Carol Lefevre's narrative is also built on spatial elements — in this case the cemetery grounds itself.... This is an incredibly rich book and it is difficult to give an account of all that it contains. It is to Lefevre's credit that she has imbued it with respect and gravity. More so that it is entertaining and in spite of the subject matter, generally a pleasure to read.' - Nicolette Stasko, Southerly
'A must read.' - Marie, The Big Book Club
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