The transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

Amy Transit of VenusThe Transit of Venus follows Caro and Grace, two Australian girls who try to leave their unhappy childhood behind and make new lives in England. It’s a story about love; steady, faithful, violent, and surprising. The language is dreamy, complex and utterly beautiful. I will return to this book.

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The lake house by Kate Morton

Amy The Lake HouseYou know what you are going to get with a Kate Morton novel; a lush, English setting, and an historical mystery solved in the modern day. This time the setting is a beautiful house in Cornwall, with lush gardens, and there are two mysteries to be solved. The resolution is perhaps neater than it needs to be, but it was in keeping with the book – quirky characters, twists and turns, happy ending.

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Mystery Road

Amy Mystery RoadThis is the movie that came before the television series. Having recently watched the television series, I was keen to find out Jay Swan’s back story. Recently returned to his home town after time in the big city, Jay doesn’t fit in with the other policemen, all white, or his own community. He is estranged from his wife and daughter, and seems to be the only one who cares about the murder of a young black girl. The cinematography is striking, capturing the starkly beautiful countryside. The story is bleak and violent, but the film is somehow quiet and contemplative, reflecting the complexity of the issues that face outback towns and Australia as a whole. The mystery itself may not be neatly tied up at the end, but the performances and thoughtful story make it a very satisfying film.

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The Hamilton case by Michelle de Krester

Amy The Hamilton CaseThe Hamilton Case is set in Sri Lanka, beginning in the early 1900s. Sam Obeysekere is born to wealthy Sinhalese parents and grows to be so very English in a country of changing identity. There is a murder case, a glamorous mother, and a lush, very alive setting, but the book isn’t just about those things. It’s about how we see ourselves, how we struggle to relate to others, and how we live with the differences between who we are and who we want to be.

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Border districts by Gerald Murnane

Amy Border DistrictsAn older man makes his last move, from a capital city (not named, but Melbourne) to a small town on the border, and ponders. This short book is a report of his thoughts; reflections on light and mental images, with lots of references to coloured glass, being Catholic, and horse racing. There is little emotion, some coherence and no actual plot, so it was just some quality in the writing that kept me going.

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The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Cynthia Lost Flowers of Alice HartThis story was full of sadness and beauty. Australia’s landscape is told in beautiful detail which balances out the horor of abuse. Characters are either running from their story or embracing it. The language of native flowers are used to great effect, used in the introduction of each chapter, matching Alice’s story. It was easy to become involved in the story and Alice’s journey.

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The book ninja by Ali Berg

Amy Book NinjaFrankie, in her late twenties, is in a bit of a mess. She is taking a break from her chosen career as a writer, working in a friend’s bookshop, and her love life is a disaster, and then she comes up with the idea of using books to find her perfect mate. Everyone is gorgeous, quirky, wise-cracking and on a very familiar journey, with bonus book references. I think there are lots of people who will enjoy this cute, modern love story, but all the references to books I would rather be reading, weren’t enough to make me enjoy this. Chick lit really isn’t for me; I just read for something else….

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Lillian Armfield : how Australia’s first female detective took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and changed the face of the force by Leigh Straw

Cynthia Lillian ArmfieldThis was an interesting look at the development of women’s policing in Australia, focusing on Lillian Armfield. Imagine being a police officer with no uniform or weapon and no power of arrest? The huge amount of research that went into this book is evident. It did fall down for me as it was a bit repetitive in places.

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