I started with The Comfort of Figs by Simon Cleary. What most intrigued me about this story is that it is centred on Brisbane's Story Bridge. An historical aspect of the story focuses on the construction of the steel bridge. Meanwhile there is also a contemporary aspect to the story which focuses on a tree-planter for the Council, Robbie, whose father was involved in the 1939 construction of the bridge.
Robbie is grappling with his relationship with his father and trying to save his relationship with his Canadian girlfriend, Freda. Robbie has a special connection with Moreton Bay fig trees, which are endemic to the east coast of Australia. They are great trees for parks and big gardens and can be found in a number of play areas and picnic spots around the city.
The Comfort of Figs is a work of fiction, but the author states that some events and anecdotes were inspired by historical incidents, including archival material at the State Library of Queensland, when writing the book.
Reading about the Story Bridge, I thought it was worth finding out a little more about the structure. The bridge opened in July 1940 after five years of construction and is the largest steel bridge designed, fabricated and constructed in Australia by Australians. It was one of the then government's three major public works projects that aimed to create years of employment for men during the Great Depression. The Story Bridge has six lanes of traffic, plus a footpath and bikeway on either side and links Fortitude Valley with Kangaroo Point. About 70,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.
I am part of the way through an audio book called The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. This is a really delightful story which is set in Brisbane and Cornwall. It tells the story of 38-yearold Cassandra, whose grandmother Nell dies, leaving her things from her past. They raise many questions about Nell's past and Cassandra heads off to Cornwall to try and unravel the mysteries. At the same time the book tells of a similar journey that Nell took years before, and follows the journey of Cassandra and Nell's ancestors 100 or so years previously.
I haven't had books read to me since I was a child, but I've really enjoyed having the audio book around. It's great for the times when I'm travelling in the car, waiting for children to come out of school, and really does make doing the ironing much more bearable!