“This House of Grief” refers to the Supreme Court, where in 2006, Robert Farquarson was tried for the murder of his three sons. Farquarson had driven into a dam with his sons in the car; he had managed to swim to the bank but his boys drowned. He claimed this was an accident, however questions were raised.
In this “Story of a Court Case”, Helen Garner follows the case through, from the initial hearing to a second trial when Farquarson was found guilty. She describes not only the technicalities of the court, but the personalities of those involved and the emotions displayed by all from family to jurors. Significantly, she also describes her own feelings and reactions to events, questioning as she goes.
It is Garner’s questions of herself, and therefore of us as readers, that makes “This House of Grief” such a compelling read. All those shades of grey between right and wrong seem to be what interest most her as a writer, and the reader is taken on a disturbing yet thought provoking journey, where we are asked to consider the complexities of why some people behave as they do.