Literature

THE CARETAKERS : A GRIPPING, ATMOSPHERIC READ

Set in Paris in 2015 and 2016 , this  excellent book by Amanda Bestor-Siegal opens grittily like a sudden TV news alert with the mysterious death of a nine year old French boy, Julien. The family’s American au pair Alena is accused , but is she falsely arraigned – so what really happened?

The book is set in the world of young American au pairs working for rich French families in Paris, in particular the posh , wealthy suburb of Maisons-Larue, before, during and just after the 2016 terrorist attacks.

There are six main character ‘voices ‘we meet, learning about their lives before the incident. The au pairs slip away to the clubs and cafes of the city centre while the rich, embittered wives seek notice from their aloof, seemingly always away husbands and sample revenge. Continue reading THE CARETAKERS : A GRIPPING, ATMOSPHERIC READ

THE CHOSEN : A SAD, SOMBRE TALE

 

A sad story about love, loss, regret, guilt, a long strained marriage, what it takes to be a writer and the fluidity of time and memories. This is all blended in with a ghostly tale …

This excellently written book by Elisabeth Lowry is set in 1912. One day in November 1912 the famous aging author Thomas Hardy, (Tess of the D’Urbervilles , Jude the obscure ) progressively and bitterly becoming alienated from his wife Emma, discovers her dying in her bedroom. By the time he calls her name and holds her, she has passed .

Hardy, buried in the rhythm of his writing , books and papers , is totally crushed and in shock .He has been unable to write anything for his publishers , and is already suffering writer’s block. The book follows Hardy’s suffering and despair which is exacerbated by his discovery of Emma’s journal, which turns out to be a portrait of a most unhappy marriage. Continue reading THE CHOSEN : A SAD, SOMBRE TALE

RISING DUST BY FLEUR MCDONALD : A RIPPING YARN

A gripping book, magnificently written, this is the fifth book in the detective Dave Burrows series .It is divided into short gulps of thirty chapters and there is a Prologue and Epilogue.

Readers learn a lot about life in an isolated small outback town tending sheep and shearing, (which is why Dave and his colleague Bob are on the homestead, to investigate large numbers of missing sheep) but there is also arresting, lush description of the landscape, flora and fauna and the world waking up. The torrential storm is vividly described as well as the aftermath.You feel you are there, can see the sunrise, smell the greenery, hear the birds or tumultuous thunder and lightning. Descriptions of tense police work and forensics are also included. There is deep discussion about Life and regrets or otherwise – if he had the chance would Dave do things differently?

Characterization is also marvellously handled, readers get to feel they know the main characters in particular- Bob , Dave, Shannon, Mac the pilot, wheelchair bound Jane and Brody Corbett, who own the homestead and caravan park known as Corbett Station Stay. We also meet Hannah and Kelsey who work at the homestead and some of the locals, neighbours and caravaners.

After a shattering family tragedy, it is unequivocally made clear to Detective Dave Burrows that his wife, Mel, is no longer interested in their marriage.

However , before Dave can talk to Mel, he and his partner, Bob Holden, are ordered to investigate a suspected sheep stealing at a station north of Carnarvon, where they very quickly realise that this crime is a lot more than just stock theft. We learn a lot about the relationship between Dave and Bob.

As a ferocious tropical storm floods the airstrip and uncovers more than anyone expected, Dave and Bob find themselves isolated, outnumbered and in extraordinary danger. Dave has to confront the guilt and trauma of his past before he can move forward. Can he? Possibly there is no real answer or chance of reconciliation.

Other past encounters are revealed and there are murder mysteries and the curious case of the missing sheep to be solved, plus other dangerous entanglements that could be fatal.

Shannon the forensic pathologist arrives to investigate the discovery of the first body – she and Dave have always had warm friendship and work well together professionally. Isolated on the homestead and working on the beach when bodies are discovered we follow how that relationship blossoms into further intimacy.

When the storm hits it reveals another body, buried deep in the sand, and a truckload of drugs is discovered nearby as they recover the second body.

A terrific rural detective story.

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/Rising-Dust-Fleur-McDonald-9781760878832

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ISBN: 9781760878832
ISBN-10: 1760878839
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 376
Available: 29th March 2022
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3
Weight (kg): 0.46

Featured image : Fleur McDonald International Day Of Rural Women

HOVERING : A MARVELLOUS BOOK BY RHETT DAVIS

Author Rhett Davis

Family secrets are revealed and time and space seem fluid and fractured in this enthralling, splendidly written book.

Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award, HOVERING crosses genres, literary styles and conventions to create a powerful and kaleidoscopic story about three people struggling to find connection in a chaotic and impermanent world.

This marvellous book by Rhett Davis is written in several ‘voices’, and uses tables and ‘interruptions’ of say a transcript of a radio show or a text conversation, hash tags, and a press release as well. Not forgetting police interviews and art articles. Sometimes the page is divided into columns, detailing each character’s movements and/or thoughts.

We learn of the major shifts, changes and  ‘metro displacement ‘ of the city of Fraser which has been happening for the past decade but suddenly seems to happen constantly – mailboxes shifted, doors moved etc then whole streets and buildings …

The book opens with Alice returning home to Fraser unannounced after sixteen years away and knocking on the door of her estranged sister Lydia’s home. Their parents are apparently constantly travelling visiting the latest exotic man-made island; We also meet the third main character, Lydia’s son George who does not talk (a protest, and also it helps with the ‘noise’ in his head) – he texts on his mobile instead.

What is real and what isn’t?!

Lydia is a control freak and afraid of flying. She works as a data analyst, being very good with numbers. But then she plays computer games for hours and doesn’t realise the house has been completely shifted and changed.

Alice, meanwhile, is an artist and involved with the work of Helen Kovar. (A group production, with her colleagues, various works were created by the individuals, and her boyfriend Curt, but she left Curt in Europe as events became very messy). A hidden secret catches up with Alice regarding her time in Europe, but all is clarified.

George, meanwhile, is trying to survive school and an assignment he doesn’t like at all. Also , he is terrific on the computer and creates special websites, avatars and the like which is how he makes money. His relationship with Lydia is at times tense and fraught and he has to do most of the housework, as well.

This is an electrifying book which scrutinizes artistic morality, stability, acceptance and the appreciation of the environment.

ISBN: 9780733645624
ISBN-10: 0733645623
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 23rd February 2022
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.37
Edition Number: 1

https://www.hachette.com.au/rhett-davis/hovering

http://www.rhettdavis.com

 

SLOUGH HOUSE : A SLEW OF SPIES

Smiert spionam. Death to Spies. It’s straight out of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

But SLOUGH HOUSE is not a James Bond adventure, rather the next best thing, or to some, the better thing, while we wait for the next oft postponed 007 cinematic saga.

The seventh in the series concerning a section of secret service stuff-ups, SLOUGH HOUSE begins in James Bond style with the book equivalent of a pre-title sequence that is simply thrilling and all too plausible.

With a plot device ripped from the headlines, SLOUGH HOUSE writhes and wriggles and seethes with the recent employment of poisons by the Russian security services to perceived enemies of the state, both within its own borders and abroad.

And even though the Slow Horses, the appellation given to the operatives of Slough House have been erased from British Secret Service records, the Russians seem to be working from old intelligence and therefore does not protect them from being targeted.

Author Mick Herron knows the secret of the narrative art, working up to a climax at the end of each chapter, unrelenting and unrelieved, juggling plot, character and zinger observations which holds the reader hostage and compels them to press on.

Utterly disgraceful and highly enjoyable, the slovenly principal of Slough House, Jackson Lamb continues to command his band of espionage errorists while happily trammelling political correctness – chain smoking, farting, belching, and generally being vulgar in word and deed.

This not so civil servant of Her Majesty’s Secret Service nevertheless gets the job done, not afraid to to offend in the defence of the realm.

Poison, paranoia, the global pandemic of populist politicians and the privatisation of public assets and security provide the panoply of plot in a spy story that is astute, acerbic and exhilarating.

SLOUGH HOUSE, as are its six antecedents, is altogether a thriller deluxe, tense, ice cold, sophisticated and laugh out loud funny.

SLOUGH HOUSE by Mick Herron is published by John Murray.

THE GODMOTHERS BY MONICA MCINERNEY

The latest book by Monica McInerney is a story about life, love, hidden secrets, truth vs fiction, discovery , loss and search for identity. A family saga with a strong protagonist set both in Australia and Europe the book moves between country Australia, Melbourne, an exclusive family hotel in Edinburgh, and an Irish town with an ancient castle.

Monica McInerney is regarded as one of the stars of Australian fiction, with over a million copies of her books sold in Australia and New Zealand. This year she celebrates 20 years as a published author, now with over twelve books to her name.

It is of medium size and thickness, with 42 chapters and an epilogue, a captivating read – there is an element of mystery throughout as Eliza unearths family secrets.

In THE GODMOTHERS, Eliza Miller grew up in Australia as the only daughter of a troubled young mother, Jeannie,but with the constant support of two watchful godmothers, Olivia and Maxie who promised to look after her Eliza and Jeannie moved house constantly and Jeannie kept telling Eliza conflicting stories. Eliza was treated to holidays with them every year. Continue reading THE GODMOTHERS BY MONICA MCINERNEY

LITERARY LECTURES : MEN, GLORIOUS MEN, HAMLET TO JAMES BOND

Susannah Fullerton says it’s time to discuss the wonderful variety of men in literature – romantic heroes, dastardly villains, schoolboys, men of action, serving men and their masters, cads and fools. She’ll talk about sexy men, muddled men, men who are treacherous, confused, cool under fire, or the ‘strong and silent’ types. And the literary works in which they appear will provide you with comedy and tragedy, adventure and violence, piety and devotion. Come along and hear about some well known literary men and the writers who created them. Hopefully you’ll meet some interesting new ones too. Continue reading LITERARY LECTURES : MEN, GLORIOUS MEN, HAMLET TO JAMES BOND

GOOD GRUB WITH LITERARY LEGENDS: LATEST FROM DRINKS WITH FRIENDS

Join Authors Margo Lanagan, Luke Carman, Oliver Mol and Manisha Anjali for a literary feast.

It’s a rare and intimate chance to eat good grub with literary legends.  A READING AT STEKI WITH A BANQUET is the latest in the Drinks with Friends event.

Set in the courtyard of the Steki Tavern, you will dine on a succulent banquet whilst hearing from New York Times bestselling author Margo Lanagan, NSW Premier Literary Award Winner Luke Carman, the author of SUGAR KANE WOMAN and recent opener at the Emerging Writers Festival Manisha Anjali, and Oliver Mol, winner of the inaugural Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and author of LION ATTACK! Continue reading GOOD GRUB WITH LITERARY LEGENDS: LATEST FROM DRINKS WITH FRIENDS

ORIGINS OF A STORY: SOME VERY SURPRISING BEGINNINGS

It is one of those questions that has always intrigued me. Where do writers get their ideas from? What is the genesis of some of the great works of literature?  A new book ORIGINS OF STORY  by Jake Grogan explores this terrain. Grogan, in his tome, reveals the inspiration behind some 202 works and it makes for some very interesting reading.

One would never in a thousand years guess the very humble origins of one of the classic American Civil War novels Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell was a prolific reader and on a regular basis she sent her husband down to Atlanta’s Carnegie Library tro get a new batch of novels for her to  read. Mr Mitchell became increasingly peeved and exhausted by his wife’s regular requests for him to go down to the local library. In the end he said to her, ‘For God’s sake can’t you write  a book instead of reading thousands of them? By way of further encouragement he bought her a typewriter. Margaret Mitchell took up the challenge offered by her husband, sat down at her brand new typewriter, and she began work on her own novel. The rest is history….

John Irving’s THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP also had unlikely origins. Irving grew up not knowing who his father was. He became increasingly frustrated by his mother’s refusal to divulge his father’s identity. Irving confronted his mother and said if you don’t tell me who my father was I will write a book about our family as it is. His mother nonchalantly said she couldn’t care less. And so Irving sat down and started work on ‘Garp’. Continue reading ORIGINS OF A STORY: SOME VERY SURPRISING BEGINNINGS

DISCOVERING DOBELL : ART CRITIC CHRISTOPHER HEATHCOTE’S NEW PUBLICATION

A large coffee table book, beautifully presented and lavishly illustrated, this is an intriguing book for art lovers brought to us by the excellent Wakefield Press.

Christopher Heathcote is one of Australia’s foremost art critics, has published a number of books on Australian painters, and  is a regular contributor to the current affairs journal Quadrant.

Linked in with the current exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art we gain a fascinating insight into the life of Dobell. The book is in effect divided into four sections with a Forward by TarraWarra Museum of Art director, Victoria Lynn. Continue reading DISCOVERING DOBELL : ART CRITIC CHRISTOPHER HEATHCOTE’S NEW PUBLICATION

THE LATE SHOW : MICHAEL CONNELLY’S LATEST THRILLER

The Late Show is LAPD parlance for the night shift and it’s been appropriated as the title of Michael Connelly’s latest thriller.

Eschewing Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller his seemingly perennial serial protagonists, Connelly has created a new lead character, Renee Ballard, an Hawaiian transplant pulling the late show out of Hollywood.

THE LATE SHOW is a slow burn of a page turner, a police procedural that sees Ballard pick up a trio of cases she wants no part of but cannot bear to part with.

The first of the three appears to be a benign case of credit card theft. But it brilliantly builds the base of Ballard’s philosophical foundation of seeking justice for a victim no matter the felony, whether it’s petty theft or first degree murder. Continue reading THE LATE SHOW : MICHAEL CONNELLY’S LATEST THRILLER

THE DARK LAKE : MELBOURNE AUTHOR SARAH BAILEY’S DEBUT NOVEL

Featured pic. Author Sarah Bailey.

These violent delights have violent ends says Shakespeare in Romeo & Juliet.

He loved a good warning to set the scene. Perhaps these days he’d be writing crime fiction sensations like THE DARK LAKE, the debut novel from Melbourne based author, Sarah Bailey.

Bailey has harnessed her tale of regional town homicide to the work horse of Shakespeare, and of Romeo & Juliet in particular, complete with teenage suicide, parental displeasure, and a victim called Rosalind.

When the body of high school drama teacher, Rosalind Ryan, is found in the lake the morning after the triumphant opening night of her student’s production of Romeo & Juliet, ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny, as local cop, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, uncovers a ‘storm’ of Shakespeare like dimension.

Woodstock was a contemporary of Ryan and vied for the attention and affections of the same boy at school. That boy’s much younger brother is now Ryan’s star student, cast as Romeo in her brash, bold and brilliant re imagining of the classic tale of star crossed lovers. Continue reading THE DARK LAKE : MELBOURNE AUTHOR SARAH BAILEY’S DEBUT NOVEL

I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD : A FEROCIOUSLY FUNNY SATIRE OF THE WORLD OF FASHION

Featured image- Pic of author by Dennis Drenner.

A fission and fusion of fashion and crime fiction, Barbara Bourland’s I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD is a ferociously funny satire of the gloss and goss industry.

Rip the dust jacket from the binding and wear it with pride, you’ll want to devour this delicious banquet of a book in one sitting, gutsing the glorious barbs and bon mots, characters and situations.

Plot thickens, narrative ripens under the impressive prose of Ms Bourland, with this scathing, coruscating and laugh out loud novel. Continue reading I’LL EAT WHEN I’M DEAD : A FEROCIOUSLY FUNNY SATIRE OF THE WORLD OF FASHION

LONNIE’S LAMENT : A NEW BOOK OF POETRY BY KEN BOLTON

LONNIE’S LAMENT,  the latest collection of poems by Ken Bolton, was recently published by Wakefield Press. Bolton has been a major figure in the Australian poetry and experimental writing scene for decades.  Whilst he says that he writes ‘to keep awake, and amused’, this latest collection is yet another reminder of how wonderful a writer he is.  

This rather small and slim book is in four sections. Most are new poems, some have been published in other collections before. They are incisively written often as stream of consciousness poems. Continue reading LONNIE’S LAMENT : A NEW BOOK OF POETRY BY KEN BOLTON

ANDREW RIEMER : BETWEEN THE FISH AND THE MUDCAKE

 

It was more than a bit of a challenge when I was requested to write  a review of a book written by an eminent and esteemed critic, academic, best selling author and a person who is the Sydney Morning Herald chief book reviewer. The gentleman is Andrew Riemer, the book Between The Fish and The Mudcake.

In his book, Riemer reminiscences about well known literary figures; there are food references and destinations mentioned. It is part memoir, history lesson, political piece, travelogue and social commentary.

Between the Fish and the Mudcake begins by discussing Patrick White whom he meets at a dinner party in Sydney in 1966 and who undergoes Riemer’s astute character observations  and analysis of his personality. “We see him driven into precisely the taciturn hostility, thinly disguised beneath a veneer of politeness…” Continue reading ANDREW RIEMER : BETWEEN THE FISH AND THE MUDCAKE

SYDNEY JEWISH WRITERS FESTIVAL CONTINUES TO FLOURISH

Featured image – Left to right David Gonski and his immediate family. Pictured left to right- David’s wife, sister, mother, David, and his younger twin brother Stephen. David’s other twin brother Dr Peter Gonski was not at the event.

Having outgrown its original Shalom College venue in Kensington, the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival was held in the Bondi Beach Pavilion for its launch on August 27 and thereafter for the bulk of speakers, the next day at Waverley Library.

The topics remained from the musical poetry of Israel’s most renowned poet Yehuda Amichai to the great Jewish Australian rock impressario Michael Gudinski; the childhood innocence of Anna and Barbara Fienberg’s Tashi books to facing death by Leah Kaminsky.

There were authors and distinguished local community figures who had also penned books such as David Gonski, Mark Tedeschi and Alexandra Joel. Authors Lee Kofman, Leah Kaminsky, Susan Wyndham, Maria Katsonis and Arnold Zable flew in from interstate. Others such as Rabbi Dov Lipman and Matt Friedman came from overseas. It was a hothouse of learning and intellectual stimulation. The crowds had increased from last year, as did their pleasure.

If the Festival grows any bigger, Waverley Library may no longer be large enough.

NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD BY MICHELLE WYATT

Not Right In The Head

Featured photo – Melbourne author and television producer Michelle Wyatt.

There’s no denying that Alzheimer’s is joked about. Even those most prone to this devastating disease, the elderly, self deprecatingly refer to to it as Oldtimer’s. It may be a way of denial that this insidious syndrome is much more formidable than mere forgetfulness.

In her forthright memoir of dealing with her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD, Michelle Wyatt admits that it’s a tough topic to write about with any kind of lightheartedness, yet she succeeds wonderfully in getting the balance right.

That balance comes from a sharing of a family headed up by the seemingly indefatigable Dad, Frank, to whom the book is dedicated. As much as Michelle and her siblings rallied to deal with their mother’s dementia, it was Dad who led the charge, a living manifestation of the marriage vow “in sickness and in health.” Continue reading NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD BY MICHELLE WYATT

LIAM PIEPER’S FIRST NOVEL : THE TOYMAKER

Toymaker-Cover-196x300

“Let me tell you a story about my grandfather.”

This is the opening and closing line of Liam Pieper’s colossally compulsive novel, THE TOYMAKER, a story that has its beginnings in the Holocaust and its finale in Melbourne some seventy years after the end of World War II.

The grandfather is Arkady Kulakov, a survivor of Auschwitz, who ended up in Australia to found a successful toy making company.

His grandson, Adam, is heir to the family business, which he now runs in conjunction with his wife, Tess, a puppeteer prior to their nuptials, and presently quite the spreadsheet whiz. It is her forensic financial skills that turn up fiscal discrepancies, dollar drains brought about by Adam’s infidelities. Continue reading LIAM PIEPER’S FIRST NOVEL : THE TOYMAKER

STATE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR DAME LEONIE KRAMER @ SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

Professor Marie Bashir delivering her moving tribute.
Professor Marie Bashir delivering her moving tribute.

Dame Leonie Kramer was a trailblazer for women in the world of academia and commerce. She was the first female Professor to be appointed the Chair of Literature at Sydney University, she was the first female Chancellor in Australia, and she was the first female Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

A State Memorial celebrating her life was held at the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music on Monday 27 June 2016.

Dame Leonie Kramer 1/10/1924-20/4/2016
Dame Leonie Kramer 1/10/1924-20/4/2016

Amongst the attendees were the New South Wales Governor, retired General David Hurley, former Prime Minister John  Howard accompanied by his wife Janette, Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and current Chair of the ABC, Mr Jim Spiegelman.

Former Prime Minister John Howard greets Sister Jocelyn Kramer with his wife Janette Howard in the background.
Former Prime Minister John Howard greets Sister Jocelyn Kramer with his wife Janette Howard in the background.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chats with current ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chats with current ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman

Governor David Hurley chats with his aide.
Governor David Hurley chats with his aide.

IMGL10001 (69)

In addition to moving reminiscences from her children and grandchildren, an especially moving tribute was delivered by former Governor and current Chancellor of Sydney University, Professor Marie Bashir.

John Gaden
One of the greats of Australian theatre John Gaden AM.

Highlights of the Service included readings from Cymbeline, The Tempest, and Credo recited by John Gaden, and a performance from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Gondoliers There Lived A King performed by David Hidden, Justice Peter Hidden and Judge Robert Cameron, accompanied by Sophie Spargo.

David & Justice Peter Hidden, Judge David Cameron with Sophie Spargo on piano.
David & Justice Peter Hidden, Judge David Cameron with Sophie Spargo on piano.

Dame Leone Kramer was innovative in that she was one of the first lecturers to invite Australian authors such as Les Murray and James McAuley to attend her lecturers and talk to the students, which excited them greatly.

When China began to open up to the world, amongst the first students to study overseas were nine Chinese students who were supervised by Dame Leone in the study of Australian literature. As a result there are a number of English faculties studying Australian literature throughout China. A tribute from The Gang Of Nine, as they were known, was read by Mr Yu Zhang.

Mr Yu Zhang delivers his poignant tribute representing ‘The Gang of Nine’.