This is a thoroughly enchanting, magical experience. Four ladies answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau for a month, in the hope of escaping their dreary lives in London. In the explosion of flowers and bright sunshine they are each transformed. Beautifully written, so that I could smell the flowers and thrill at the gardens overlooking the sea, it is also a warm, life-affirming book and surely the next best thing to a month in an Italian chateau.
Liane Moriarty writes great characters; real, raw, ridiculous, petty, and messy. Suburban Sydney folk, going through life exploring the impact of past mistakes, the nature of marriage, depths of character in the face of trials and how people differ from how they are perceived, by others and themselves. If you like experiencing the deep trouble people can make for themselves and others, in a safe environment when you know it will, largely, come right in the end, then this is for you!
I started out enjoying this story. It was a fun read. The situations ridiculous but told so matter of factly that you just went with the flow of the story. But by the end it all seemed a bit rushed which empathised the ridiculous and the story became less endearing.
The Buried Giant is beautiful, dreamlike, harsh and bleak, and yet tender, with a strong seam of golden hope running through it. Axl and Beatrice are an elderly couple, in long ago England, finally setting off on a journey, long neglected, to see their son. The land is shrouded in a troubling mist, and their way is indistinct and hazardous. There are knights and warriors, dragons and ogres, but it isn’t an action packed battle story, but one telling of the complexities of memory and war, and of enduring love.
Nevil Shute is a brilliant storyteller, and this is another great WWII story. Alan Duncan finally comes home to his family farm in Australia, quite a few years after the war, damaged physically and emotionally, and finds a new tragedy in his house. A maid committed suicide the night before he arrived, and he sets out to discover her story. This is less technical, more character driven than some of his books, so more to my taste, and a moving look at the impact the war had on people, during and afterwards.
I must have watched the film a lot, as a teenager, because I have never read the book before, but the dialogue came flooding back. It’s the story of Ponyboy Curtis (yes, really), a fourteen year old boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He and his family and friends are ‘greasers’, and they are in conflict with the ‘socs’. One night Ponyboy and his friend are cornered, and a soc is killed, whichleads to more tragedy. It’s typical teenage angst, in some ways, but ultimately, it encourages us to understand others; to see that everyone has their struggles and not to give in.
Another solid story in this series of books about Dody, a female autopsy surgeon in Victorian London. This story focused on the suffragette movement and the treatment of female mental patients. The story made me squirm in places as practices towards female patients was rudimentary, the thought that female mental health was totally connected to their sexual organs and removal of those organs did wonders is preposterous! There was not as strong a story line in this volume but I enjoyed learning about early medical practice and am glad times have changed.
This is the first Pat Barker novel I have read that isn’t historical fiction, though one character does struggle with his memories of WWI, and I didn’t love it as I loved the others. It’s about Nick who has just moved into a new house with his pregnant wife and toddler, along with two older children from previous relationships. Nick’s elderly grandfather is coming to the end of his long life and is reliving his bother’s death during the war. Relationships are messy, there’s a lot of hidden anger and darkness and a ghostly element. It was surprisingly hopeful, in the end, but on the whole there wasn’t enough light to balance the darkness for me.
The Hate Race is a thoughtful, nostalgic, confronting, funny, sad, and important book. Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in Sydney, not too far from where I grew up, in the 90s. Though she is younger than I am, there is so much that is familiar in her childhood, including her feelings of being different , being left out, being made fun of. Her “fault”, however, was not being uncool, or failing to meet the current standard of beauty, it was that she is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The racism she experienced, and continues to experience, is both insidious and in your face; from those you’d expect, and those from whom you would expect protection. It is relentless, shocking and destructive. We need to know what it is like, so we can do our part in resisting this element of our culture. Clarke is a great storyteller, and this is a great story for us all.
An immigrant story that covers dreams and hopes, secrets, friendships and community attitudes. Life in a small coastal town is described well – with all the secrets, both shared and hidden that can exist there. Suzanne Salem’s use of language gave Nayeema’s story authenticity. I loved her journey to find a place where she felt she belonged. I also loved that the story was set in the seventies with coastal development, strikes, communes and fashion all playing a part in the story. This was an enjoyable story.