Symphony for the Man
Publisher: Spinifex Press
Publication date: March 2020
RRP: $29.95 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
So begins a poignant and gritty tale of homelessness and shelter, of the realities of loneliness and hunger, and of the hopes and dreams of those who often go unnoticed on our streets. This is the story of two outcasts – one a young woman struggling to find her place in an alien world, one an older man seeking refuge and solace from a life in tatters. It is also about the transformative power of care and friendship, and the promise of escape that music holds.
I’m finding it hard to put my thoughts about this beautiful book into words.
Set in the winter of 1999 when the streets of Sydney were being cleaned up for the coming Olympics.
Symphony for the Man is a beautifully written story about a homeless man, living in a bus shelter in the seaside suburb of Bondi, and a young woman, an introvert, lacking direction in her life.
The woman see harry asleep in the bus shelter and wonders what she can do for him. She wants to do something that no one else has done. She decides to write a symphony for him.
I loved how Brill portrayed Harry’s thoughts. Every word was so real and utterly believable, from Harry’s compulsive clock watching every morning to his interactions with other homeless men and care worker Brian.
I felt more invested in Harry’s story than I did in the unnamed young woman. Although I did enjoy her growth once she had a purpose given to her by Harry, her life changed, she changed.
In this nuanced story Brill gives us the human side to homelessness and shows that there is compassion everywhere in the small acts of kindness that people preform everyday. Like the Vietnamese restaurant that gives Harry food after closing, the librarian that offers shelter and comfort, the cafe worker who without question gives Harry a coffee and Brian the care worker who trolls the streets at night looking out for the homeless never expecting a thanks.
Sparkplug Films have optioned the film rights for the book and I would love to see this on the screen. That closing scene would be amazing! There is plenty to be sad about in this story but there is also so much to take heart from.
If you have every passed a homeless man on the streets and wondered at their circumstances this is the read for you.
*Note: Must be read whilst listening to Beethoven’s Eroica.
My rating 4/5
|photo credit: Spinifex Press|
Sarah Brill grew up in Perth and began writing at the age of 15. She initially focused on playwrighting but also wrote for film and radio. She attended four National Young Playwrights Workshops before graduating to the National Playwrights Conference in 1994
Her first novel Glory which dealt with anorexia was published by Spinifex Press in 2002. After the birth of her children Sarah became interested in sustainability and permaculture. In 2017 Sarah completed a Masters of Sustainable Built Environment and currently works in organics diversion. Sarah lives in Sydney with her partner and three sons. Symphony for the Man is her second novel.
This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie Author Challenge
and the Australian Women Writers challenge