The invitation by Belinda Alexander

cynthia-the-invitation.jpgThe excess and opulence of Gilded Age New York is wonderfully described here, those with more money then sense trying to out do each other and be the person to rule New York society. But of course in that setting all is not as it seems. The evilness of Caroline is slowly revealed. But the story is more than the excesses – there is love, woman’s rights, marriage rights, slums, and art. A solid historical read with a great sense of place.

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Extinctions by Josephine Wilson

Amy ExtinctionsFour and a half stars for this moving novel about the terrible mess people can make of their lives, and the power of redemption. Fred Lothian’s wife has died, and his two, adult children are largely lost to him as he sits in his retirement village apartment, full to the brim with what is left of his life. Reluctantly, he falls in with his neighbour, Jan, and while things certainly don’t become less complicated, Fred gradually makes changes to redeem what he can. It is funny and sad, disturbing and moving, and I loved it.

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Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

amy-black-swan-green.jpgBlack Swan Green is stories from one year in the life of a thirteen year old boy, in an English village during the early 80s. It’s about the common and peculiar trials of being a thirteen year old boy, friendship, family relationships, music, politics, poetry and truth, love and loyalty. It’s funny, clever, moving, sad, joyful, and with the special delight for the regular reader of David Mitchell books, the characters from his other books. He is one of my very favourite authors.

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Burning fields by Alli Sinclair

Cynthia Burning FieldsThis was a quick and entertaining read. Set in post WWII north Queensland, a time of adjustment and change for Australia. It covers a whole gammit of issues – migration, post war stress, women’s rights, traditions v future, racism and family. Then throw in some romance, which is the thread tying the story together, and you have a well paced story that I enjoyed reading.

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Moby Dick by Herman Melville

amy-moby-dick.jpgWell, that was a significant time commitment! I feel so light and free, now that I have finished it, and yet, it was a surprisingly easy burden. The endless specifics of whaling are hardly a subject I am interested in, and yet, at times, I just had to read it aloud. The story of Ishmael, Queequeg, Ahab, and his crew, is often funny as well as strange and ultimately moving. I am happy to have read this, and to never have to go whaling.

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Ghost wall by Sarah Moss

amy-ghost-wall.jpgA short, dark tale about a group of people on an experimental archaeology exercise. There are students and a professor from a university, and a family whose father is obsessed with ancient Briton, and the environment and immersion in the time, has unintended consequences for some. It is a creepy, atmospheric, and timely story about growing up, the abuse of power, and identity.

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Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Cynthia Somewhere in FranceSociety girl Lily decides to do her bit for the war and joins the Women’s Army Auxillary Corps. She gets herself posted overseas as an ambulance driver at a casulty clearing station, the same place as Robbie, her brother’s friend, doctor, son of a dustman and Lily’s love. But of course society’s rules have been drummed into both throughout their entire lives. This makes for stilted conversations even though they are madly in love. It was also the most irksome thing about this story. The theatre of war was well created, it was the personal interactions between the characters that let the story down.

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Normal people by Sally Rooney

amy-normal-people.jpgSet between 2011 and 2015, this is the story of Marianne and Connell whose relationship begins in secret while they are at school, and how it and they change as they leave their small town and go to Dublin for university. It’s about class, communication, love, abuse, mental illness, friendship and the struggle to find one’s place in the world as an adult. It’s very modern, and made me feel old, but it was very compelling.

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