A cast of offbeat characters who find themselves at Lost Lake, a collection of lakeside cabins. A story of family, loss and friendship. Magic also is a major thread – do we see the magic in everyday life when we need it?
A beautiful, heartbreaking book about Conor, who, struggling to come to terms with his mother’s illness, is visited by a monster in the garden. It’s about loss, love, life, truth, and hope. Is very sad, but deeply moving and the audiobook is brilliantly read by Jason Isaacs.
We are dropped into the life of Florrie for five days, during the Great Smog of London in 1952. Florrie is waiting the return of her mother from jail, who is part of a family criminal gang. Anna is great at setting the scene and building good characters. Florrie is at crossroads – should she stay with her family or leave? We follow her as she struggles with the choice.
August Gondiwindi returns home after ten years of wandering, when her grandfather dies. She finds her home about to taken by a mining company, and she is overwhelmed by the stories of her country. It’s a story of the horrors of the past, their lingering legacy, and of hope for the future; of language, belonging, and truth. I found it slow, and also moving, beautiful, and powerful.
Kerry Salter is living life on the edge. She is trying to avoid going back to prison, and being drawn into her family’s dramas, but her Pop is dying, so she goes home. It’s an unflinching look at an Aboriginal family, dealing with violence,abuse, loss, anger, suffering, and strength. It’s funny, raw, sad, frightening, uplifting, and a great way to understand some of the legacy and continuing impact of colonialism, the importance of culture, family, and connection to country.
I love Michael Ondaatje’s style of writing, it is somehow old fashioned but reads so well and carries you along through atmospheric landscapes meeting characters you can easily picture in your mind’s eye. He is most famous for writing The English Patient which was made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes.
His first novel in seven years, Warlight is set in London immediately after the war when 14 year old Nathanial’s parents announce that they are leaving to live and work in Singapore and Nathaniel and his sister Rachel will be cared for by the lodger, who they name The Moth and suspect of being a thief.
The story is narrated by an adult Nathaniel and recounts the life they lived with a household full of characters , some of whom are associates of their parents and some who appear to be petty criminals on the make. The fact that their parents up and left them with strangers is odd but the children accept it, perhaps not easily but maybe because the relationship with their parents was sometimes distant and formal.
As the story moves on and Nathaniel grows up he is recruited by British Intelligence to review war time files where he uncovers events of the past that help him understand his mother and explains the cast of characters he knew as family through his adolescence.
It’s a twisty tale told beautifully with wonderful characters and unexpected turns.
Zelie is a girl who makes mistakes, who gets in trouble. The events of one particular day change everything for herself, her family, and the whole of her country. Children of Blood and Bone is set in a fictional version of Nigeria, where magic existed, but is now held back by a violent king. Zelie begins a journey to bring it back. I listened to the audio book, and really enjoyed the accent, along with the imaginative detail, and the passionate fight to end oppression.
A dairy farmer burns his house down instead of letting the bank have it and unfortunately dies while doing it. What follows is an offbeat story of a funeral procession from the rural town to Melbourne. Is it a funeral procession or a protest? And who is burning buildings along the way? Having the story told through the eyes of the farmer’s 13 year old son makes this story unique and quirky.
Bridge of Clay is the story of five brothers, grieving for their mother and finding a way to keep going. It isn’t told in a linear fashion, and there are many elements with a very slow reveal. It’s about the destructive power of loss, and also about love; how brothers love each other, parental love, romantic love. Not as broadly recommendable as The Book Thief, it’s a much slower, sometimes a little vague or confusing, but deeply emotional book.
Oh, I could just weep for this lost time. I know I wouldn’t really want to go back, but this book, first published in 1930, is almost painfully nostalgic. While their father is away for work, the Walker family spends the summer in the Lake District. The four older children take the little sailing boat called Swallow, camp on an uninhabited island, and sail on the lake, having the most wonderful adventures. As a child I was much more of an indoor person, but this gives me such a hankering for a time of great freedom, innocence, ingenuity, competence and trust. It is a delightful read.