Book Reviews

Take a look at all the amazing books our book clubs have been reading!

One Life: my mother’s story – Kate Grenville


While Nance did not think she led an exceptional life, she did exceptional things in her time.  From living more of her earlier years away from her family to getting an education, attending university, graduating, and then training to be a pharmacist; Nance then went on to open and operate two pharmacies successfully at a time when many believed a woman’s place was in the home.  Which Nance also did, raising 3 children and laying the bricks to build their family home. 

Kate Grenville writes a beautiful tribute to her mother.  It was a beautiful snap shot of what every day Australia was like growing up in the early 20th century, moving to the city, living through war and depression.  We really enjoyed this book.  We loved seeing the old photos, putting faces to the names mentioned in the story.    


Read by Cultcha Club

When She Was Good by Michael Robotham


Another great read from this author!  This is the second book in Cyrus Haven series, and we could not wait to read this one. 

When She Was Good, sees Cyrus looking for the person who found Evie. We find out how she ended up in a secret room of an abandoned house in the aftermath of a terrible crime.  But is he exposing her to more danger.  Should he be leaving well enough alone?

This one has us turning pages eagerly again as the narrative flicked between Cyrus and Evie.  Some parts were a little difficult to read, however, the author had us gripped to the end as the all pieces fell into place.  Wonderfully written. We love the main characters, Cyrus and Evie, and even the side characters too; Lennie, Sascha, the kids at Langford Hall and Poppy.  Would definitely recommend this one.  Made for a great holiday read. We can’t wait to read the next book in the series. 


Read by Cultcha Club

The Nowhere Child – Christian White


Quite an interesting psychological thriller however we felt there were too many separate threads that weren’t woven together very well.

A balancing act between hemispheres and cultures, cults and some unbelievable characters.

A good first effort!

Read by Dundas Readers

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre


The Spy and the Traitor is a true story about a Russian double agent, Oleg Gordievsky, who worked successfully against the KGB in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oleg was born into a staunch KGB family and was following in his family footsteps when he was approached by MI6 to spy for them against the Russians. Oleg had experienced the effect of the KGB on his family, the KGB as an organisation, the building of the Berlin Wall  and the Prague Spring, and had begun to question his allegiance.

This is a fascinating exploration into life in Russia, the workings of the KGB, MI6 and the CIA. His handling and eventual escape from Russia leave the readers on the edge of their seats. The information he provided on the KGB mindset for the UK and USA influenced world politics and policy. He opened the west to the inner workings of Russians, their paranoia and weaknesses.

His duplicity and defection eventually cost him all he loved. It was a high price to pay but hopefully, his sacrifice helped create a better world.

Read by MJ Readers

The Railwayman’s wife – Ashely Hay


This novel by Australian writer, Ashley Hay, is set in the beautiful little seaside town of Thirroul just after the second world war. The main character Ani Lachlan lives with her beloved husband Mac, a Scotsman, and her ten year old daughter Isabel. Their happy and settled existence is shattered when Mac is killed in a shunting accident at work. Ani’s grief is profound but she must provide a stable home for Isabel and when offered a job at the Thirroul library she takes it. The job, the love for her daughter and the beauty and peace of her seaside home, help her reintegrate into the community as a widow.

Two other characters returning after the war suffer grief of a different kind (called shell shock in veterans at the time). Roy, a quiet retiring man is an ex school teacher and an aspiring poet and his friend Frank is a GP. They are both struggling to come to terms with normal life after the horrors of war. Roy meets Ani in the library and they develop an unspoken fondness for each other fostered through a shared love of writing and reading.

Hay writes with such a light touch evoking grief ad melancholy in her characters while also leaving the reader with a sense of hope. Integral to the power of this haunting story is the sense of place which is where D.H. Lawrence wrote ‘Kangaroo’. Hay grew up in this area and her love for it’s beauty is eloquently expressed.


Read by Dundas Readers