The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

Cynthia Fairville Ladies' Book ClubA charming Australian story about female friendship. Sybil decides to start a book club which leads to 5 women developing the strong bonds of friendship, bonds that will stand up against the bad and the good times. The setting of this book is a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory, which adds extra dimensions to the story, as well as being set in the late 70s. It was quite nostalgic going over some of the major world events for that time period which Sophie has included in her story and how much communication has changed (who remembers the telephone party line?). I was worried that the story was going to end all neatly wrapped up with everyone blissfully happy, but it wasn’t. Sophie has left room at the end of the story for the reader to continue the characters’ stories themselves – a great tool to let the story remain with you after reading the story.

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Amy CommonwealthCommonwealth is the story of a complicated family. A man and a woman meet at a party, leave their spouses and marry each other. They each bring children to this new marriage; children now with two families, divided loyalties. When one of the children grows up, she meets a famous author and shares the story of their childhood. It’s a thoughtful, insightful book about the long lasting consequences of our actions, family ties and the ownership of our stories.

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The Golden Age by Joan London

Amy Golden AgeThe Golden Age is the story of Frank Gold, the son of Hungarian Jews who came to Perth after the war. Frank is recovering from polio in a convalescent home, called The Golden Age, for children, where he meets and falls in love with Elsa. The language is beautiful and Perth in the 1950s so alive with heat, purpose, promise and wonder. A very moving story of poetry, meaning, fragility, love and life.

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Working class boy by Jimmy Barnes

Kate workingclassboyBeing memoir, my favourite genre, ‘Working Class Boy’ is a book I considered many times but, not really a fan of Jimmy Barnes and or knowing anything about his life, it really didn’t appeal to me. Not until, that is, he won the biography category at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and then I quickly borrowed the ebook before anyone else could!

‘It is the story of what shaped my life,’ Jimmy said. ‘The good, the bad and the very, very ugly.’
His brutally honest storytelling, about things I would rather not know, made this a difficult book for me to read, and I felt he wasn’t giving me any credit as a reader, repeating things and telling me not showing me. After the third time he wrote, ‘as I said before …’ I vowed to quit if he wrote it again. But he didn’t, and I became captivated by the sense of healing I was witnessing as Jimmy searched for hope in his story, quite often using a wicked sense of humour at what seemed inappropriate times. I soon realised this was his way of coping with the ugliness of it all. The book felt like a confession, an opening up by Jimmy. At first he sounded hesitant and unsure, but I could sense him settling into his new role as an author and imagined the healing tears flowing along with the healing words.
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When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

Amy When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air is the memoir of a man who realises that his life is to be cut short, dramatically. Paul Kalanithi was 36, and about to complete his training as a neurosurgeon, when he found out he had terminal cancer. I didn’t find the book as emotionally harrowing as I thought I might. It is the story of a man with many gifts and interests, who strived to find the best way to help people make life meaningful. At the very end of his medical training, before he was able to bring to fruition all his plans, he was given a terrible gift; that of experiencing life as a patient facing his own death. It is, of course, very sad, but it is also hopeful, and uplifting, and encourages the reader to live thoughtfully.

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I, Daniel Blake

Ali I Daniel BlakeI, Daniel Blake is the most moving film I have  watched  in years. The reviews on the front cover say it all. It is a sadly realistic film with no melodrama, violence or sex but it had me crying when I am not a crier!  It is amazing that a film around the tedium and frustration of dealing with bureaucracy and the tragedy that can result, can have such an effect. It touches something deep within and  reminds us that we could easily find ourselves in this vulnerable position in this harsh world.

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The shape of us by Lisa Ireland

Renee The State of UsRead via Borrowbox – ebook

This is the type of book I would pick up and hand to random strangers in Kmart and insist they buy… Okay, it’s the actual book I did that with. The story has stayed with me long after I finished reading. It’s a fabulous example of contemporary Australian women’s fiction – full of friendships, romance, and personal growth. I laughed, I cried, I ran out of pages too quickly.
Four women from diverse backgrounds meet in an online weight loss forum and develop a deeper friendship. They share their struggles and each takes a different path on their journey. This book would be particularly relatable to anyone who has ever stood on the scales and seen a number they didn’t like.

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As you wish : inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Amy As You WishI saw The Princess Bride at Roseville cinema, when it came out. I loved it then, and have seen it many times since; it is a classic. There are lots of interesting stories about the making of the film in this book, and some insights into the people who made it. I was a little in love with Andre the Giant, in the 80s, so very much enjoyed reading about him. Ultimately, I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped, because Elwes does that thing where every single person is described as amazingly talented, and extraordinary to work with. I find that relentless fawning over everyone rather wearisome, but it was still an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and I may watch the movie again this weekend….

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How to be both by Ali Smith

Amy How to be BothHow to be Both is a clever, strange, moving novel about art, life, death and love. There are two stories, one set in modern day, about a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, and the other about an Italian painter in the 1460s. The stories are linked, and full of surprises. There’s probably so much that I didn’t get, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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