I Came to Say Goodbye

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I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

A young woman pushed through the hospital doors. She walked into the nursery, where a baby girl lay sleeping. The infant didn’t wake when the woman placed her gently in the shopping bag she had brought with her. There is CCTV footage of what happened next, and most Australians would have seen it, either on the internet or the news. The woman walked out to the car park, towards an old Corolla. For a moment, she held the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smelled her. She then clipped the infant into the car, got in and drove off. That is where the footage ends. It isn’t where the story ends, however. It’s not even where the story starts.

Comments

A disturbing and at times, harrowing read, that was heart-breaking because of its reality.  A very well written story that had us turning the pages quicker than an Aldi catalogue wanting to know what else could possibly happen or go wrong for this family.

While we liked the way the writer told the story, in letter form to a judge, some struggled to sympathise with him and other characters.  We all felt like they all could have done more or should have done more for each other.  This is the first book in a little while that has generated a lot of discussion within our group.  Over who did and why they did it. And who was at fault. And if the grandfather had intervened earlier, like he had always intended too, would any of this have ever happened.  We wondered where the mother went and why she seemed to have had no contact with anyone after she left.  Did some of the blame lay with her for simply disappearing from her children’s lives.

We found it a difficult to rate this book.  While we all agreed that while the writing was well done, we found the subject a little heavy and depressing and not something we wanted to scale too highly as to mislead other readers.

Read by  Cultcha Club

Rated – 6/10

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The Strays

The Strays

By Emily Bitto

 The Strays

 

Summary

In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists. They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan. At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena’s daughter Eva. Lily is infatuated by the world she bears witness to, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family. As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

 

Comments

  • All thought it was very well written but some found the theme of underage relationships very challenging. The garden seems to be a metaphor for the story and characters. Sometimes Idyllic, sometimes almost sounding like ‘the Garden of Eden’ mirroring the children’s playground and fun times, but also overgrown and neglected which happened to the children.
  • The perspective of looking back as an adult and remembering the growing experiences and exciting times.
  • The plot was captivating and kept everyone reading to the end.

 

Read By: The Second Tuesday Book Group

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The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

by Richard Flanagan

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Summary

In 1954, in a construction camp for a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tasmanian highlands, Bojan Buloh had brought his family to start a new life away from Slovenia, the privations of war, and refugee settlements. One night, Bojan’s wife walked off into a blizzard, never to return, leaving Bojan to drink too much to quiet his ghosts, and to care for his three-year-old daughter Sonja, alone. Thirty-five years later, Sonja returns to Tasmania and a father haunted by memories of the European war and other, more recent horrors. As the shadows of the past begin to intrude ever more forcefully into the present, Sonja’s empty life and her father’s living death are to change forever.

 

 


Comments

  • Very real description of Bojan and Sonja in particular. Loved the book but found it disturbing
  • Only misgiving is the happy ending, it didn’t quite fit but overall the novel is a very good depiction of Bojan and Sonya
  • Well written, sad, gut wrenching. Recommend reading the novel. Can accept the ending where the characters can find some sort of peace at the end. Should be recommended reading as it is relevant to refugee situation today.
  • Found the book very sad and almost gave up reading it. Very much related to the present day refugee situation. Found the language flowery in parts. Needed to skip some of the violent sections.
  • Read the novel when it was first published, enjoyed it then and really loved re-reading it again. Brilliant writing, characterisation excellent. Written so the reader understood why Bojan was the way he was (violent). Like the juxtaposition of the violence against his tenderness with the wood that he was working on.
  • Very well written, a little flowery in the beginning but overall a very good read. Painful to read about Sonja’s life but very good characterisation.

 

Read By: The First Wednesday Book Group

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NEW eLibrary Guide 2016 is out now!

Did you know we have eBooks, eAudio Books, eMagazines and eReaders for loan? Why not take a look at our brand new eLibrary Guide 2016 and discover a whole new easy to use digital world.

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The One Who Got Away

 

The One Who Got Away by Caroline Overington

Caroline Overington’s latest book The One Who Got Away was released a couple of days ago; and I was so excited. Caroline is one my favourite authors and after reading a sample I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one.

I must admit to being the tiniest bit biased in my opinion where Caroline’s books are  concerned after having been lucky enough to have met her here at Parramatta Library a couple of years ago for an author talk. (Click HERE to listen to the podcast). I became an even bigger fan. Caroline is a very talented writer and a nice person.

I think it’s fair to say I expected a lot from The One Who Got Away and I wasn’t disappointed.

The One Who Got Away tells the gripping tale Loren and David; the perfect couple?  When Loren meets David, she falls hard. Although they’re from the same Californian town they come from very different backgrounds … but Loren is not about to let that stop her from winning over her perfect man.

There is suspense with twists and turns all the way through and you wont know what to believe. I loved the way it was told from different perspectives; it really allowed the story to build up gradually to a point where you are practically screaming “I need to know what happens NOW”!

I resisted the urge to skip ahead to the end of the book so I could find out what happened, but let me tell you it was very hard. When I finally read the last page, I was in total shock and went straight back and reread the last chapter to make sure I hadn’t read it wrong. The way the story kept revealing secrets all the way to the very last line was masterful.

Do yourself a favour and read this one, I LOVED IT and can’t wait to talk about it with my reading obsessed colleagues here at the library.

Jody

 

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