The last of my March books

These are the remaining few books I finished in March.

This was a non-fiction book, my first non-fiction for a while.  I found it extremely interesting and the blurb from the book gives you a good idea of why I found it so interesting.

“I was born into a world that expected very little of women like me. We were meant to tread lightly on the earth, influencing events through our husbands and children, if at all. We were meant to fade into invisibility as we aged. I defied all of these expectations and so have millions of women like me.”

This is the compelling story of Anne Summers’ extraordinary life. Her story has her travelling around the world as she moves from job to job, in newspapers and magazines, advising prime ministers, leading feminist debates, writing memorable and influential books.

Anne shares revealing stories about the famous and powerful people she has worked with or reported on and is refreshingly frank about her own anxieties and mistakes.  Unfettered and Alive is a provocative and inspiring memoir from someone who broke through so many boundaries to show what women can do.

‘It’s the story of a lot of things – Australian politics, feminism, journalism, international intrigue – but most of all it’s the story of an utterly singular woman, who always says “Yes” to life even when it scares her. Her memory for the events, and her frankness about the fear, make this an extraordinary memoir.’ – Annabel Crabb

Anne is perhaps more well known in Australia than the UK or USA but the reading is still relevant no matter where you are.

The Great White Palace was lent to me by a former neighbour who thought I might be interested in the story as I had just returned from a visit to the UK.  She knew I had previously visited Devon and thought this book would suit me.

“This is the story of Tony and Beatrice Porter’s renovation of the near-derelict and long forgotten Art Deco hotel on Burgh Island, after giving up their successful careers as fashion consultants in London’s West End. Up to their necks in debt and with a massive program of repairs and maintenance ahead of them, they gradually labored to restore it to its former glory and into the beautiful, luxurious place it is today.”

This was a super quick read and thoroughly enjoyable. I was interested to see that the hotel was used in the Agatha Christie Poirot series on television.

I would even contemplate making a visit to the island on our next trip to the UK.

I absolutely loved Marcus Zusak’s book.  I could not give a review that would do it justice so I am going to provide a link to a review that I think says it all. It is an expansive, touching saga of an Australian family’s losses and loves.  Interestingly the first few reviews on Goodreads were scathing.  To each his own.

Bridge of Clay Review

Denzel Meyrick is a new Scottish author for me.  I sure am glad that I have found him. I have started with the third instalment in the DCI Daley series but I will have no worries about going back and finding one and two.

“When a senior Edinburgh civil servant spectacularly takes his own life in Kinloch harbour, DCI Jim Daley comes face to face with the murky world of politics. To add to his woes, two local drug dealers lie dead, ritually assassinated. It’s clear that dark forces are at work in the town. With his boss under investigation, his marriage hanging on by a thread, and his sidekick DS Scott wrestling with his own demons, Daley’s world is in meltdown.  When strange lights appear in the sky over Kinloch, it becomes clear that the townsfolk are not the only people at risk. The fate of nations is at stake. Jim Daley must face his worst fears as tragedy strikes. This is not just about a successful investigation, it’s about survival.”

Fast paced crime writing set in Scotland.

“A bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.

Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman he’ll risk his life to save.

In his 14th book in the Reacher series Lee Child still gets you hooked.

Another February read

This is a Miles Franklin WInner to add to my 2019 Reading Challenge.  It certainly lives up to the status of winner and depicts Australia in beautiful language.

From the book cover:

“His father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his unknown uncle – an embittered old man encamped in the ruins of a once great station homestead, Kuran House.  It’s a baffling and sinister new world for the boy, a place of decay and secret histories.

William’s uncle is obsessed by a long life of decline and by a dark quest for revival, his mother is desperate for a wealth and security she has never known, and all their hopes it seems come to rest upon his young shoulders.  But as the past and present of Kuran Station unravel and merge together, the price of that inheritance may prove to be the downfall of them all.”

I loved how so many aspects of Australian history were woven into the story.  I will be searching out other books by Andrew McGahan who had written many books before his untimely death from pancreatic cancer.

I don’t enjoy reading in large print.

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser was a very different read for me.  The many and varied characters kept me on my toes throughout the read.“Set in Australia, France, and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies, and as nations. Driven by a vivid cast of characters, it explores necessary emigration, the art of fiction, and ethnic and class conflict.”

I had put a reserve in at the library for this book and didn’t realise it was in large print, not my favourite way to read a book I must say.  I kept wishing it was in smaller print.  Apart from that I did enjoy the actual story.

The book is full of so many characters each portrayed in detail and each appearing to intersect in the lives of others in the novel.  I sometimes had difficulty in working out which characters linked with whom.

The descriptive writing is beautiful and the characters are unusual.  If you expect the characters to be lovable and for everything to come out just so at the end then you will be disappointed.  The characters have many flaws but life is depicted realistically.

A great read.

About my 2019 Reading Challenge

This year I have decided to reduce the number of books on my challenge and instead of 104 my challenge is 80.  For part of my challenge I would like to read as many books as I can from the previous winners of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

In 1957, the first winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award was announced: Patrick White, for his novel Voss. Over the years, the prize has been awarded to novels describing life in suburbia, compulsive gamblers, Australians abroad – but always true to the terms of Miles Franklin’s will: ‘[the] prize shall be awarded for the Novel for the year which is of the highest literary merit and which must present Australian Life in any of its phases …’.

I have read a few of them already but I will now endeavour to read some of the remaining books on the list.  Those I have read are:

All that I am by Anna Funder

Truth by Peter Temple

The ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger Mcdonald

Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey

The Well by Elizabeth Jolley

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

Bring Larks and Heroes by Thomas Keneally

There are 47 books on the list so I still have a few I can choose from.  I think I will start with Voss by Patrick White as I have a copy here at home.

What a golden book this was.

This is a must read book.

“With their father, there’s always a catch . . .

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts – toys, bikes, all that glitters most – and makes them the envy of the neighbourhood.

To Freya Kiley and the other local kids, the Jensons are a family from a magazine, and Rex a hero – successful, attentive, attractive, always there to lend a hand. But to Colt he’s an impossible figure in a different way: unbearable, suffocating. Has Colt got Rex wrong, or has he seen something in his father that will destroy their fragile new lives?”

Sonya Hartnett has been able to capture the lives of young boys in Australia.  She is able to portray them so realistically I could imagine the events happening by the language the boys used and the vivid descriptions of their actions. The portrayal of the strong female adolescent was also so realistic and the antithesis of the two seemingly weak mothers.

This book was long listed for the Stella prize in 2015 and this is what the judges had to say about the novel.

The Dry

After reading Force of Nature I was encouraged by my reading group to read Jane Harper’s first novel The Dry.  My sister also encouraged me to read it as she had thoroughly enjoyed it.

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…

I was able to pick up a copy cheaply at Kmart and I would have read it in a day except I had to leave for Melbourne for our bike ride.  I finished the last few pages when we were in Melbourne.

It was a great read.  One of those books that you don’t want to put down.  I found I enjoyed it much more than Force of Nature as Falk, the character who was doing the investigating, played a far more significant part in this book compared to Force of Nature.

‘One of the most stunning debuts I’ve ever read…Read it!’ David Baldacci  That is a recommendation to feel proud of.