Scrublands by Chris Hammer

amy-scrublands.jpgScrublands is Australian rural noir, set in a fictional town in the Riverina. A year ago, a priest shot a number of men dead, and was then shot himself by the local policeman. A journalist, with his own demons, arrives to write a piece about how the town is coping, only to uncover, and become entangled, in layers of secrets. There is a great sense of place; the oppressive heat and bleak landscape mirroring the tension between the townspeople, the police and the news people. The mystery is deep and complex, the characters compelling, and the plight of the small country town in drought, utterly believable.

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Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Cindy Nutshell

Whoa! This book was different. Written from the perspective of a baby still in the womb it tells the tale of a likely doomed trio that includes his mother, her lover and his father. The embryo infant contemplates the fates of his tragically flawed family and what influence he can possibly have in the grand scheme of things.

I really enjoyed listening to this on borrow box and it is also available in many of our libraries in traditional book format.

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Patrick Melrose volume 2 by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Patrick melrose Volume 2This contains the final two books in the Patrick Melrose series – Mother’s Milk and At Last.

Mother’s Milk: After his breakthrough at the end of Never Mind, Patrick, now married with two sons, is struggling again; with inheritance, his marriage, his mother and parenthood. So sharp, delicious, painful, real, and delightful.


At Last: The final Patrick Melrose novel, and how I will miss him. Patrick is as bitingly clever as ever, and still working on gaining some equilibrium. The gathering at his mother’s funeral highlights the foibles of the upper class, the passions and fixations that hold people back, the complexities of living with past trauma, and the sparks of hope that keep us going.

This entire series is deeply insightful, witty, horrific, and brilliant.

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Some hope by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Some HopeSome years after his father’s death, Patrick is clear of his all consuming drug habit, but is yet to replace it. On the cusp of something unknown, Patrick attends a party at a country house. As funny and clever as the first two books, Some Hope isn’t as dark, and it had a Dickens reference that made me clap. A deeply insightful, and even tender, look at class, purpose, the compelling absurdity of the rich, and the nature of forgiveness.

 

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Amy LullabyThis book starts with a murder scene; the nanny kills her two young charges before attempting to kill herself. What follows is the lead up to the horror, and it is a clever and disturbing look at the struggles of modern parenthood, career, city living, and the fascinating situation of inviting someone into your one to care for your children. I raced through it to the abrupt, but not unsatisfying, end.

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Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Amy HappinessFour and a half stars for this, my favourite Forna book yet. It’s the story of two people who meet by chance, in London, neither of them English. Jean is an American, studying urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist. They join together, along with a crew of immigrant workers, to search for a lost boy, and find more than they were looking for. It’s a quiet novel, very thoughtful and intelligent, and I just fell in love with the characters.

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Hold by Michael Donkor

amy-hold.jpgThree and a half stars for Hold, a story about Belinda, a Ghanaian teenager who, having adjusted from village life to that of a housegirl, makes another move, to London. In London, she lives with a Ghanaian couple, and their daughter, Amma, who is struggling, and her parents hope Belinda can get her back on track. It is a quiet coming of age story, dealing with culture, duty, shame, belonging and growing into a sense of self. My favourite character was the younger Mary, left behind in Ghana; spirited and funny. The pace of this novel is slow, and it didn’t move me quite as much as I feel it could have.

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