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Could not bear the characters I had sympathy for the cat, Mopoke, than any of the human beings in this story Pretentious, self indulgent rubbish Could not wade my way through to the end. I took a long time to get into this book It s very Sydney, none of the characters are particularly likeable, and it s hard to feel sympathy for someone living in a six million dollar property on the water at Mossman who drunkenly runs up 50,000 on credit cards instead of getting a job It s testament to McGregor s skills as a writer that I kept reading and ended up glad that I did I don t really understand the obsession with tattoos, but I did understand why Marie, the book s 59 year old divorced middle class protagonist succumbed to their painful allure By the book s end they had become a symbol of authenticity and a way of taking what was important to her the garden she had nurtured over a lifetime with her, when she went A fine book that won t be to everyone s taste. Women have been reinventing themselves in the novel ever since Elizabeth Bennett but Marie King in Indelible Ink is something else again Fiona McGregor s fourth novel has been widely praised, but I read most of Indelible Ink with a sense of fascinated disdain for its central character Rebellious adolescents are one thing but a privileged middle aged women rebelling against her awful children by getting drunk and being sick all over a sofa in a furniture store Traipsing round Kings Cross to get herself plastered in tattoos Whatever would Jane Austen have thought about that Maybe Austen would have understood Lizzy Bennett s preoccupation was all about negotiating her way through society s expectations and constraints to find a life that would satisfy her sense of self respect, integrity and individuality Today s middle aged women in transition to a new stage in their lives feel the same imperative it informs Enza Gandolfo s recent novel Swimming and it s the underlying issue in Indelible Ink The novel expands on the theme of women subverting expectations in Jenny Joseph s poem Warning WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLEWith a red hat which doesn t go, and doesn t suit me.And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer glovesAnd satin sandals, and say we ve no money for butter I can t quote the whole poem because of copyright, but this link has no such scruples Incredible Ink dissects with forensic intensity what happens when a woman sets out to do what is suggested in the last lines of the poem But maybe I ought to practice a little now So people who know me are not too shocked and surprisedWhen suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.Marie King is almost sixty, and divorced She has a large house in an expensive Sydney suburb but she can t afford to maintain the property and she doesn t like the encroachment of the nouveau riche who don t share her values The friends with whom she spends her New Year s Eve have a lifestyle she can no longer share, and she discomfits them when she admits it because she challenges their easy assumptions She s alienated from her horrible solipsistic children too, and not just because they want her to sell the property They tell her what to wear, they tell her to replace daggy furniture with something smarter and they tell her to stop spreading manure around her cherished garden because she should be trying to impress potential buyers who won t like the smell They want, in other words, to run her life It was Dennis Potter s Singing Detective who most graphically depicted how the texture and appearance of skin is critical to identity Sadly, defacing one s own skin is a self harming behaviour among the mentally ill Marie doesn t have a skin condition and she isn t mentally ill but she changes her skin in a way that provokes reactions ranging from fascination to distaste to outright revulsion Like girls self harming, she inflicts on herself what is clearly a very painful procedure to assert herself in ways that brook no interference Tattoos are indelible It s her way of saying that her kids and any potential lovers can t efface her individuality any than they can efface the tattoos and she s going to flaunt them, not cover them up they re not discreet anklets or a small rose on a shoulder The book has a rather fierce tone, savaging the empty materialism of the lifestyle that surrounds Marie These characters hector each other about environmental and social issues while scornful allusions to designer labels and branding litter the prose Astute local readers will notice sniping over recent political issues though these will probably mystify international readers or readers in years to come it s a very contemporary novel I do like the way this book is unashamedly Australian, for example, alluding without concessions to Norman Lindsay s Magic Pudding 1 but a puzzled reader can Google that Exchanges like this, on the other hand, may make no sense at all overseas She handed the receptionist her Medicare card That s ninety dollars, thanks, Mrs King Marie was taken aback You don t bulk bill Not for three years The receptionist smiled I m sorry, I had no idea Marie handed over her Visa card That s good It shows how long it is since you ve been to the doctor p65 This exchange reveals Maris s carelessness in looking after her body because women should have regular pap smears, breast screening etc but its political significance is that the Federal Government rebate to doctors for medical consultations failed to keep pace with inflation so they stopped bulk billing, which by the flourish of a Medicare card had made going to the doctor free in Australia The ninety dollar fee Marie is charged in Neutral Bay is 50% than most doctors charge an indication of the wealthy lifestyle that surrounds Marie without her being part of it Will readers get that five years from now I don t say this to criticise the novel for being contemporary, only to point out the risks for the author McGregor isn t exploring poverty Marie being short of money is a relative issue in this novel She stumbles out of the surgery into the excesses of Christmas shopping and draws attention because her shabby car doesn t fit in her expensive suburb When her house is sold she ll be wealthy but won t be able to live in the same area and meanwhile she s cash poor and has to drive out of her way to buy cheap petrol She flogs off the remnants of the cellar so that she has the money for the tattoos Not, Mcgregor shows us, to pay the cleaning lady Her son has to come to the rescue for that The one thing she has never seriously considered is getting a job She ponders it fleetingly p191 but apart from the disadvantage of her age, she s spent a whole lifetime being financially dependant She doesn t seem to have been involved in community work which might have taught her some skills and given her a sense of meaning in her life with her children now grown she s useless and she s really got nothing to do Marie s not yet 60 she s not of that generation of women who were denied opportunity for study or career that psychology degree she never finished was begun when tertiary education was free in Australia and women flocked into the universities and went on to have great careers There are people who have started new careers or begun new study at her age, but what she is confronting is that her way of life is outmoded and very risky for women divorced after a lifetime of financial dependance she now has no money of her own No income, no superannuation and she s financially illiterate She has only the house and some investments she doesn t understand and has left untended since the divorce settlement And is she taking professional advice about how best to manage her finances once she sells her house and has the million dollar proceeds No, she s not She was like a drunken teenager driving down a dark country road p190 This sort of stupidity doesn t inspire much sympathy.Kate Wilks in Swimming has to come to terms with her ambivalence about motherhood, menopause and her own infertility, but she has always had the satisfaction of a career, a meaningful female friendship and a hobby long distance swimming She also atypically, at late middle age when men interested in older women are in short supply has a sexy lover Marie King has none of these things Only her garden brings her any real pleasure, and she s about to lose it.McGregor strays close to schadenfreude sometimes but about half way through the novel a plot twist takes the story in a different direction Marie s horrible children, ever mindful of their eventual inheritance and almost caricatures of Sydneyesque types in their shallowness, are shocked not only by her tattoos but also her sudden dependance on them There was rather about these three than I wanted to read it s a long novel but was sufficiently intrigued to keep going I read Fiona McGregor s Au Pair 1993 some years ago and liked it Short listed for the Vogel and published by the prestigious McPhee Gribble imprint it was a sophisticated coming of age story in which Sioban escapes her tiresome life in Australia to become an au pair but learns the hard way that the working holiday in France is not as easy as it seems Similarly, Indelible Ink traces expectations gone awry with this difference the optimism of youth is gone and there is a sense that Marie is trapped She s very different to the resilient and accomplished older women that I know and admire.It s raw, it s grungy and there s some confronting language Sydneysiders may not like the critique of their city I have a feeling that it will interest some age groups than others, but it s a novel that offers book groups plenty to talk about, and I suspect that it will be a best seller once the word gets out.Geordie Williamson wrote a brief review for The Monthly and described it as the richest and most complete evocation of Sydney since Patrick White s The Vivisector The Monthly July 2010 p72 Jo Case reviewed it for the June ABR 1 I had trouble imagining a tattoo of the magic pudding Click on the NSW Library images from the book here and see what you think Then again, Peter Carey has a thing about the magic pudding, so maybe Cross posted at Author Fiona McGregorTitle Indelible InkPublisher Scribe 2010ISBN 9781921215966Source GoodReads Review Program This is primarily the story no, chunk of life of 59 year old Marie King who has spent a privilleged life on Sydney s north shore Those days are now over hubby Ross has traded her in for a new, younger wife, the kids are all off involved in their own somewhat selfish affairs, and Marie is being forced to sell the mansion to pay her debts Then one drunken day she heads into the seedier side of Sydney and gets a tattoo and then another, and over the months becomes covered in them She befriends tattooist Rys who introduces her to a different life, a real life to Marie But, of course, despite this small happiness, Marie is destined for unhappiness.This book is an incredible feat of literary skill If anything these characters are too real The only one I really liked was Marie oh, and her granddaughter, four year old Nell Marie was the only reason I kept reading I couldn t have given a pig s ring about her kids, or her friends Paridoxically, as much as I wanted to spend time with Marie, I also didn t Her story cuts very close to the bone it reminded me far too much of my own mother s dissatisfaction with life and her seeminly sudden death from cancer So, too, I suppose Marie s self absorbed kids reminded me of myself For this reason I can t give Indelible Ink stars As wonderfully written as this is I m not sure it s a good book to read All I was left with was ugliness Also I feel this book is too long Quite a lot of the pages of dialogue could be trimmed back without losing anything so, too could many of the scenes where nothing much happens I realise the author intended this to be a study of human nature as much as a story, but seriously, we could have done without it.I m torn I d like to recommend this to everyone for the sheer beauty of its prose, but I d also like to warn everyone off saying if you want mysery, watch the six o clock news It ll be over faster This paragraph taken from page 121 is one of the reasons I would recommend this book She thought about age as she made her way up the stairs, how it manifested first and foremost on the skin Then grey hair, arthritis, old injuries waking up from the opiate of youth Desire lessened with age but didn t vanish Inside your fifty or sixty something year old body you continued lusting, your mind oblivious to the flesh crumbling around it NOTE For those who are concerned with such things, there are quite a few sexually explicit scenes in this book. Well written, interesting, but also serving up a mix of rather unlikeable characters, this book did have me hooked pretty quickly I found myself liking Marie but not her children, not even Leon They were all so materialistic and self centered.Marie s ex and her friends were also just a bunch of rich creeps but this does change towards the end.The evocative passages about the garden and tattooing were the highlights for me Both come across as catharsis for big gaps in Marie that her life certainly doesn t heal or fill I think it is a very good read and would recommend it because it offers that view from the fence one way there s the filthy rich, the other side there s the alternative, artistic, and often ostracised lives of tattooists A kind of moralistic tale with do not judge underpinning the story. So many times I have picked up a book that has been awarded a major literary prize names withheld at authors requests been disappointed Or worse Not this time Ms McGregor s novel explores marriage, family, sibling rivalry, illicit affairs, class, money, privilege, property, home, terminal illness Oh, the marking of one s skin But it is not an easy book Not because it is difficult to read the author s skills are evident on every page the writing is always accessible But it explores all of its themes in a non compromising fashion is, at times, extremely confronting, to the point where I occasionally debated whether I wanted to proceed I m glad I did because this novel captures the human experience in all its glory shame The characters live breathe , at times, frustrate even repel, but they exist in 3 dimensions I feel that they will live on with me for a long time Highly recommended for all those willing to immerse themselves in a book that will reflect the human experience in all its beauty ugliness. I am an absolute fan of this book I ve recommended it to lots of people and have had varied reactions It s very Sydney centric, most of the characters are not particularly sympathetic and the conclusion is inevitable but I was absolutely hooked I learnt about the art and industry of tattooing and finally understood what makes people embrace body art I loved McGregor s rich writing, I felt like I knew a lot of the characters and I felt their dilemmas deeply I felt this was a compassionate book with a range of elements family life, grief, love, attraction, body art, gardening, love of place, exploration of friendships I can highly recommend it as a challenging and in depth view of a woman, her hunger for life, her love of her imperfect family and her exploration of a new and profoundly different sense of self. It would be dishonest of me to review this book, considering I only made it one third through If you liked the slap you might like this, but that s only a might This book had a similar array of unsympathetic unlikeable characters, with not enough body in the story to get or keep me interested The main character is a pathetic indecisive drunk a late 50 s separated mother of an assortment of children, who suddenly decides to start tattooing herself She lives in beautiful affluent Mossman, and I just don t get her, or care enough to read any Sorry. For the first time in years, the children were all at Sirius Cove for their mother s birthday Set in Sydney, shifting between Mosman and Surry Hills, this is the story of a segment of Marie King s life Marie, aged 59 and divorced, is unsatisfied with aspects of her life Sure, she lives in a beautiful home in Mosman, and appears to have led a relatively privileged life But somewhere along the way, Marie seems to have lost her sense of self Increasingly, she is aware that she can no longer support the lifestyle she s become used to on the allowance her ex husband Ross pays One day, bolstered by the bravery bestowed by alcohol, Marie wanders into a tattoo parlour Her first tattoo leads to others, and introduces Marie or sometimes reminds her of other aspects of life Marie s friends, and her children Clark, Blanche and Leon do not understand Marie s need for or is it an obsession with tattoos For a while, it seems as though Marie is in control of her life, but is she I found this novel challenging, and interesting Challenging because I found it very difficult to feel much sympathy for any of the characters I don t recognise much of the world that Marie, her friends and children inhabit And yet, despite the privilege and opportunity conferred by wealth, few of the characters seemed comfortable or happy either with themselves or the world I found the novel interesting because of the way Ms McGregor depicts Marie s search for her own sense of life and what is important to her There s something about Marie s desire to define herself separate from her family and her environment, about her appreciation of beauty in nature which held my attention It is mid summer, and Sydney is in drought Many of the lives of those in the novel are also in drought , needing nourishment to meet their potential.There is no happy ending in this novel, no chance for a happy new beginning Life is often like that But, to me at least, the Marie with whom we end the novel is a fulfilled woman than the Marie with whom we commenced it Jennifer Cameron Smith ^DOWNLOAD ☙ Indelible Ink ↝ Alternate Edition For ISBN Every Now And Again A Novel Just Takes Your Breath Away With Its Audacity And Its Perceptive Take On Life And The World Indelible Ink Is Such A BookMarie King Has Spent Most Of Her Life As The Wife Of A Highly Successful Advertising Man In Their Own Ways, Her Grown Up Children Are Fragile, Vulnerable And Needy Her Separation From Her Husband Leaves Her Directionless And Financially Stretched The House She Has Raised Her Family In Abuts The Edge Of Sydney Harbour In The Affluent Suburb Of Mosman Even In The Approaching Economic Downturn, Its Value Is Substantial And She Feels She Has No Choice But To Sell The Prospect Of The Sale Elicits Different Reactions In Her Children, Unsettling Them And Bringing Back Memories Of The Past McGregor Draws These Characters BeautifullyAfter Lunch With A Friend, And Perhaps Too Much Wine, Marie Ends Up In A Bar In Kings Cross And, On A Whim, She Walks Into A Tattoo Parlour And Asks For A Tattoo She Finds The Slightly Illicit Experience Liberating And Soon Goes Back For Another And Soon Discovers Rhys, A Lesbian Artist Who Is Also A Gifted Tattooist Marie Has Seen An Example Of Rhys S Work, A Beautiful Rendition Of Flames, And Wants The Same Rhys Suggests It Will Look Best On Her Belly Rhys Introduces Marie To An Experience Totally Different To MosmanMcGregor Harks Back To Her Earlier Book, Chemical Palace, About The Gay Subculture In Sydney Although Rhys S World Is A Gentler Affirming One The Things That Marie Had Taken For Granted Seem Less Definite, Especially Her Relationship With Her Three Adult Children, Who Are Also Trying To Define Themselves In The World McGregor Superbly Weaves These Lives, Their Conflicts And Viscitudes Deftly Into The Wider NarrativeIndelible Ink Is A Powerful, Assured And Incredibly Mature Novel It Is A Subtle And Sympathetic Portrait Contemporary Of Family Life Few Readers Will Fail To See Reflections Of Their Own Lives Within Its Pages Like Christos Tsiolkas S The Slap, It Will Become One Of The Most Talked About Novels Of The Year