Scrublands 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.
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.
This 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.
Some 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.
A young, beautiful, wealthy, young woman lives an enviable life in New York City, but is miserable, so, with the help of her crazy psychiatrist, decides to enter drug induced sleep for a year, in the hope she will feel better. Quirky, horrid, funny and terribly black, this won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.
This 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.
Four 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.
Patrick Melrose is now 22, and on his way to New York to pick up His father’s ashes. We spend two days with him there, as he bombards his body with a frightening amount of drugs, and wrestles with himself, his acquaintances, and the world. It’s black, funny, and so very clever. You will need a strong stomach….
Three 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.
For lovers of language, not action, this book is about life and those who live it; it’s a river flowing through the mundane, the every day, picking up the thoughts, motivations, loves, losses and every little foible of those it carries along. It is beautiful, lush, stark, funny, uncomfortable, and tenderly beautiful.