Balgowlah’s Writing Nonagenarian
Nonagenarian Jacques Horringa got in touch and sent us two of his books – Saskia and Like Another Woman. Knowing the author lived nearby I couldn’t resist the urge to meet him and when I did, I was struck by his calm presence. Born in the Netherlands in 1927, the same year Roger Moore (the best Bond for my money) and Sidney Poitier (what a performance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), Jacques exudes a similar charm, vitality and gentlemanly gravitas touched with a hint of mischief.
Jacques came to Australia in 1955 and he’s been calling Australia home ever since. Jacques has always been a scribbler. He doesn’t know where he gets his inspiration from, it comes from everywhere and nowhere. It can be a waitress who sparks an idea or overhearing conversations or delving back into the vault of his alert brain. Like all true writers he’s never without his notebook. He’s never conquered a computer and isn’t interested in doing so now. He writes in his beautiful longhand, which is as stylish and elegant as the man himself.
Enough about the author, onto the books. Saskia is a murder-mystery set in Sydney and where the women take centre stage. Ingrid the always stylishly dressed and perfectly coiffed Mosman type matriarch who has the required cultural preferences of this breed, and Alice who is thrown in Ingrid’s path through happenstance but is never comfortable with being befriended by Ingrid, are both stand-outs and keep you guessing to the end. There’s the caricature of a man, Alan, successful businessman who loves his wife but enjoys the lusty sex and lightweight conversation he enjoys with his former call-girl lover so much that he’s missing in action for his sweet wife who is a much stronger woman than Alan realises. It’s a twisting and turning plot right to the end and unlike some murder-mysteries it’s a satisfying and plausible ending. Saskia is a rollicking read, perfect escapism and at 168 pages it’s the right length for readers who like to get into a book and get on with it quickly.
Like Another Woman is a different read to Saskia but no less enjoyable. The title is a reference to the main character Clive’s obsessive devotion to his rural property which is akin being “like another woman” and is at the root of the tension in his marriage to Jane, who deserves a medal for her patience. It’s hard to like Clive. His dialogues with himself give an insight into what a tortured soul he is, even so, I was glad when his new stockman, Robert turned up and appreciated Jane. There’s issues of race, loyalty and integrity. You can feel Clive’s mental stability unravelling as he succumbs to his inner demons and to a horrific accident which is written with such authenticity that you wince with his pain and applaud his grit, but I still couldn’t bring myself to like him.
Knowing the author worked as a stockman in Queensland before settling in Tawny territory is evident in the way he has conjured up memories of that unique landscape and the weather which are captured with great authenticity and beauty.
Jacques is working on another novel and looking at this spritely nonagenarian I have no doubt he could be writing well into his next century.
Both Jacques' books are available at:
Manly's Desire Books and Records: www.desirebooks.com.au
Berkelouw Books Balgowlah: berkelouw.com.au/stores/balgowlah
And online at Dymocks and Amazon