A book about a 70-year-old potter in mourning for his wife who encounters three kids living in the wild to avoid being taken in by the child protective bureaucracy, well, that story could have some pitfalls. This one successfully avoids them.
The book is set on the outskirts of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Russell has a few good friends who live nearby, but his life is largely solitary now that his wife died nearly a year ago. His work making pots is described in detail and though I have read several books with similar descriptions, I remain ignorant of what many of the terms mean. The message of Russell’s work is that it requires meticulous care and constant attention.
While on an expedition to the nearby valley looking for certain rocks to use for a glaze, Russell finds a candy wrapper and knows that something is up. Two children and a teenage girl are hiding from authorities, hoping to contact their jailed mother’s relative for help. Russell brings food and wins their trust and when the cold makes it harder to live outside, they seek shelter with Russell.
The story of the time in his house, feeding them, helping them get cleaned up, letting the little ones watch TV, and finally letting them join him in the pottery workshop is certainly heartwarming. They encounter difficulties, the police are involved, but the ultimate resolution is satisfying.
Hare’s Fur refers to a certain glaze on pottery that has been in use for centuries. The patterns are random and are caused by the effect of iron being forced out during firing.
Trevor Shearston, Hare’s Fur, Scribe, 2019, 135 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available from Amazon.