How Bright Are All Things Here

I started reading Susan Green's lovely novel How Bright Are All Things Here about a year ago, but set it aside because there was a character with a depressed husband -- a theme that was a little too close to home at the time! Fortunately that particular situation has resolved itself and I was able to return, and I'm so glad I did. In fact I needn't have shied away so soon, as the husband's depression doesn't play a huge part in the story and (spoilers) it also resolves happily in the end.

How Bright Are All Things Here is a story about family and identity, regrets and joys, secrets and masks. It contains lots of my favourite elements: art, London in the 1950s, a Melbourne setting, relationships between siblings. Bliss is in the last days of a long, rich and crowded life, and her memories intertwine with the lives of her adult step-children, who are struggling with their own problems as well as their sometimes fraught relationship with Bliss herself.

This is a beautiful novel about a complicated woman that reminded me (serendipity!) of Mary Wesley's life story -- lots of relationships, some joyful, some sad; the struggle between creativity and family responsibilities; the wry humour and delight in sensual pleasures. Bliss and Mary might not have hit it off in real life, but they have quite a bit in common.

I'm so happy that I came back to this novel, I enjoyed it tremendously.


  1. Thank you Kate. After my mother's death (Dad died 8 years previously), I wanted to use all their stories of art and life and travel in a work of art. Almost, but not quite, a memorial. A grief project.In the end, it was quite a different book to the one I'd envisioned, mainly because Bliss took the reins. This happens occasionally to writers; I'm glad it did in this case. I'm glad you found things to enjoy.

  2. And I am delighted to hear that you've got a new book coming out!!!!

  3. Bliss is such a fantastic character. I had a feeling some of the material might have been drawn from life, or at least inspired by real events! It's a wonderful novel, Sue.