Quiet City Walking in West Terrace Cemetery
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 West Terrace Cemetery's little-known inhabitants: 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.
Shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature (Non-fiction)
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. Fortunately for readers, small publishers like Wakefield Press continue to publish these weird and wonderful hybrids ... 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. Through her stories, she has resurrected the dead-at least for a few moments-in the minds (if not in the hearts) of her readers.' - Nicolette Stasko, Southerly
'After reading Lefevre’s fascinating stories from the graves, walking in the West Terrace Cemetery will never be the same again.' - Nic Klaassen, Flinders Ranges Research
'A must read.' - Marie, The Big Book Club
'[Lefevre] has done thorough research in the cemetery archives and state records, and then enlivened and enriched this information with a true story-teller’s gifts – an eye for vivid detail and a lyrical turn of phrase.' - Jennifer Osborn, Transnational Literature
'A poignant and respectful collection ... 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.' - Leanne Cuane, Glam Adelaide
Carol Lefevre has published novels, short stories, and journalism. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, where she completed a doctorate in creative writing. Quiet City is her first full-length work of non-fiction. She is the author of two acclaimed novels, the Nita B. Kibble award-winning Nights at the Asylum and If You Were Mine. For more on Carol, visit her website.
Carol Lefevre is the winner of the 2016 Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship.