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.

Book of Lost Threads but wool plays a part. . .

Book of Lost ThreadsIndeed there were many lost threads in this book but wool also played a part. This was a delightful book, another feel good read.

It was so long ago.  The person he was then no longer existed.  What was he supposed to say to this. . .  this interloper who had materialised on his doorstep?  Couching down on his haunches, he poked at the fire and looked at her covertly from under his eyebrows.  She was obviously waiting for him to say something.  He frowned. There was something not quite right . . .What was it?

Moss had run away from Melbourne to Opportunity on the trail of a man she knows only by name.  But her arrival set in train events that disturb the long-held secrets of three of the town’s inhabitnts: Finn, a brilliant mathematician, who has become a recluse: Lily Pargetter, eighty-three-year-old knitter of tea cosies; and Sandy, the town buffoon, who dreams of a Great galah.

It is only as Moss, Finn, Lily and Sandy develop unlikely friendships that they find a way to lay their sorrows to rest and knit together the threads that will restore them to life.

This is a tender story but also funny.  It is about love, loss, parents, children, faith, hope and the value of kindness. This was a very quick read, something light after many thrillers. Also it was delightfully Australian.

Ten Australian books to read before you die.

Much as I dislike the ubiquity of “before you die” when talking about lists, I have used it here as it was the title of the First Tuesday Bookclub on the ABC last Tuesday night.

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I thought I would share the ten books with you.  Perhaps you have read them.  You will find each of each of the books here, including a summary along with the remainder of the top fifty that didn’t make the top ten.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

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The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

ThePowerofOne

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

a-fortunate-life

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

TheHarpintheSouth

The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

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The Secret River by Kate Grenville

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The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The number one book was. . . .

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Cloud Street by Tim Winton

If you have been counting you will realise that is only nine books.  The last book is the only one I haven’t read

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This book won Book of the Year in 2010.  It will go on my to read list.

I would be interested to know how many on the list those of you from overseas have read.

Here is the list in the order 1-10

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey
The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
The Secret River – Kate Grenville
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay

My choice of books are often Australian or Scottish

An observation I have made recently is that many of the books I choose to read have some link to either Australia or Scotland with the exception of Scanda noir books.  This next book in my A-Z Book Challenge has a link to Scotland.  The book is The Observations by Jane Harris. It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007

Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy Buckley-a wide-eyed and feisty young Irish girl-takes a job as a maid in a big house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella – the “missus.” Bessy lacks the necessary scullery skills for her new position, but as she finds out, it is her ability to read and write that makes her such a desirable property. Bessy is intrigued by her new employer but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her mundane chores and most intimate thoughts. And it seems that the missus has a few secrets of her own, including her near-obsessive affection for Nora, a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances.

Giving in to her curiosity, Bessy makes an infuriating discovery and, out of jealousy, concocts a childish prank that backfires and threatens to jeopardize all that she has come to hold dear. Yet even when caught up in a tangle of madness, ghosts, sex, and lies, she remains devoted to Arabella. But who is really responsible for what happened to her predecessor Nora? As her past threatens to catch up with her and raise the stakes even further, Bessy begins to realize that she has not quite landed on her feet.

The Observations is a brilliantly original, endlessly intriguing story of one woman’s journey from a difficult past into an even more disturbing present, narrated by one of the most vividly imagined heroines in recent fiction. This powerful story of secrets and suspicions, hidden histories and mysterious disappearances is at once compelling and heart-warming, showing the redemptive power of loyalty and friendship. A hugely assured and darkly funny debut, The Observations is certain to establish Jane Harris as a significant new literary talent.

From the cover of The Observations

I enjoyed this book although it is rather sad in parts.  Set in the Victorian times it reminded me of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

particularly the link with the treatment of the insane.  The characters in this novel are full of life having been brought to life by Bessy’s down to earth, often quite humorous, description of events.  The friendship that develops between Bessy and Arabella is sustained throughout the novel and Bessy’s sense of humour prevents the novel from being depressing.  A worthwhile read particularly if you enjoy historical fiction.