David Bowie was so many things. That’s obvious from the most basic understanding of his career. He was also, as we all are, different things to different people, and I suppose that is the strength of this book, that it is a collection of stories or recollections about Bowie at different tones in his life, from a huge range of people. It’s a weakness, too, though, in that it can be, as you would expect, contradictory, and sometimes repetitive. Reading about the early years was a slog, because while I loved the music, his lifestyle was pretty repugnant. I am glad I stuck it out, His was certainly a fascinating life with a massive impact on so many, but I didn’t find it an easy, or even greatly enjoyable, read.
This is a brutal story set in the brutal landscape of a drought Riverina town on the Hay Plains. A journalist comes to town to report on the annivesary of a mass murder and discovers so much more about the town and himself. Murders, lies, drugs and the relentless heat feature. An enjoyable story with not a lot of niceness. Great to read an Australian gritty crime story.
Four and a half stars. At a great, crumbling, old country house, a party has gathered, at the end of which Evelyn Hardcastle will die. She will die over and over on this one day until one of the guests can solve the murder. It’s like Agatha Christie with major twists; it’s clever, funny, insightful, and very hard to put down.
Just as the story went in one direction something dramatic would happen to Annie and send me off in a different direction. This made the storyline a bit choppy, but I enjoyed the setting of Shanghai and the multilayers of life there. The ending is very open, perhaps another story is waiting to be told?
The 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.
Philip is eleven, and his father has just died in a car accident. His father’s ghost appears to him, and asks him to do something momentous so that he can be at peace. It’s a retelling of Hamlet, and as I am reasonably unfamiliar with the story of Hamlet (!), I found it very suspenseful. It is also funny and endearing. I really enjoyed it.
This 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.
Frankie, 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….
A stranger arrives in Banjo Crossing and soon becomes part of the community, but of course he is hiding from something. It did not take me long to fall in love with the characters of Banjo Crossing and their lives. The story is a heartwarming look at country life, community spirit and love.
The Great Alone is about Alaska in the 1970s; beautiful, remote, harsh, and populated with a small and tightly knit community. Ernt Allbright, recently returned from Vietnam and deeply scarred by the experience, brings his wife and thirteen year old daughter, Leni, to start afresh. Their struggle to survive both breaks and makes them. The characters, including Alaska itself, are strong and compelling, and while I found the story a little overwrought towards the end, on the whole it was a moving story about love, damage, kindness and belonging.