The opening image of the writer as a young girl in Australia putting together jigsaw pieces to form an image of antiquity is a metaphor for what happens in Diana Wood Conroy’s book The Fabric of the Ancient Theatre. Midday. The car drove off and I was left alone at the site of old Paphos. The place seemed oddly familiar – perhaps the light reminded me of the jigsaw puzzle of the Mediterranean coast that I had so obsessively put together as a child, and then scattered to be reassembled again. The book gathers together a range of experience, reading, skill and observation drawn from Conroy’s diverse background as a tapestry weaver, an archaeologist, an Aboriginal art adviser and an academic who has published widely in these fields. Like Conroy’s work, the book crosses a number of genres, moving between travel book, a journal, field notes of various digs and a meditation on the relationship between past and present. It is also a love story, beautifully told – for the land, the ancient sites, the diversity of cultures, and for her father’s journey there as a young soldier.
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