Carmel Bird certainly has a way with words as shares a short period of time in Field of Poppies, a time of which many will be able to relate, as Marsali faces change; change created by a series of events beyond her control. Segments in each of the chapters are added by husband William, a man of few words, philosophical bent and great patience, which provides balance to the monologue.
Although the protagonists are Marsali and William, the words read a little too true to have been completely the creation of a fertile imagination. Reading the work slowly, as it demands, there is a definite ring of life having been lived throughout the entire months over which the book is set.
Basically, Marsali and husband William decide a change of their hectic lifestyle needs to be undertaken. They eventually find and fall in love with a slightly down at the heal property, Listowel in the country town of Muckleton, rural Victoria, not all that far from Melbourne; a place they loved to visit but now enjoy as the quiet, peace and serenity of their new home.
Over several years they create their idea of Nirvana at Listowel, but when trouble crashes into their world, disturbing not just their peace, but also peace of mind, it sets off a train of events that have them both eventually reconsidering their ‘tree change’.
Slowly, they have become accepted as members of their small community, until a series of events creates disquiet, shattering the peace and tranquillity; events which cause the townspeople to face the violent history of a town full of secrets considered as firmly buried, or at the very least, washed from memory as time has a wont to do.
Robbery, murder, mystery and the Chinese coming to town to reopen a long defunct Goldmine is serious cause for concern, but is it enough to consider moving away and beginning somewhere else once again.
Carefully and beautifully crafted, there are so many layers to this delicately poised work, which as the pages turn, seeps into the fabric of the everyday world, of which it is all too easily relatable, as dark and dreadful secrets are revealed, layers of history are pealed back to a time when the rules of colonial Australia were vastly different. Life was cheap and war was all to real.
All the while and throughout the storyline, Monet’s beautiful work, Field of Poppies hangs on the wall, a reminder of so much, containing so many evocative emotions within the colours of the work.
Field of Poppies is a work that is evocative, personal, and intricately woven.