THE HOUSE AT ANZAC PARADE
Author: Victor Kline
Frances Allen RRP eBook $7.09
Review: Monique Mulligan
Life has been a rollercoaster ride for Sydney-based Victor Kline. Abused sexually, physically and emotionally by his mother, and neglected by his father, his childhood was far from carefree. His memoir, The House at Anzac Parade, details a life full of hard knocks and setbacks, and his ongoing journey to find healing, love and acceptance. I don’t often read memoirs, but the author contacted me directly and asked me to read his synopsis and as read it, I remember thinking, “How can one man have so much s**t happen in one lifetime?”. I wanted to see how his life turned out.
The abuse Kline was subjected to by his mother impacted greatly on his adult life, but not necessarily in the way readers will expect. It affected his sex life, as did a brush with testicular cancer in his early 20s, leading him to find little enjoyment in the act. It left him restless and confused, unable to settle down and prone to mental health problems such as depression, and the tendency to be a workaholic. It led him to a lifelong search for love – unconditional, accepting love, as well as a meaningful spiritual connection. Most of all, it led to an abiding desire to turn his life into something good – to be a good father and husband, to be someone. The desire was there, but the achieving wasn’t easy, and led him around Australia, and into provincial France, New Guinea and Sri Lanka. Throughout the memoir, Kline mentions various ‘angels’ who helped him on the way, including his grandfather who sensed the need for love and a client who taught him about real courage and was the catalyst for Kline’s process of finding freedom.
And as long as I was super busy, I not only wouldn’t have to listen to the cause of my emotional pain, I would be able to blame the pain on the busyness (p70).
Kline writes with insight and candour, showing honest reflection about his circumstances, behaviours and attitudes, as well as a willingness to hear and learn from others’ wisdom. The tone is conversational and the narrative flows fairly smoothly. In terms of subject matter, it’s not an easy read and I read it slowly, when my frame of mind was in the right place; some readers may find some of the content triggers memories, so it’s appropriate here to add a warning that the memoir contains material about child abuse. It’s not graphic, however; the tone here is more matter-of-fact. One of the saddest sections is where Kline and his then wife Agatha had to deal with the abuse of their adopted daughters that was perpetrated by another adopted daughter, and the resultant issues with a misguided government department. Kline may have had a life of adversity, but it’s a life lived, and at the end it’s clear that he recognises and appreciates the good in his life. I hope that in the same way ‘angels’ were able to impart wisdom to Kline, this book will speak wisdom into the life of someone who needs it.