Book Review: Working Class Boy

Working Class Boy

Working Class Boy

Jimmy Barnes

Book Summary

The time I have spent writing this book has caused me a lot of pain. Sometimes because of what I have remembered about my childhood and sometimes because of what I couldn’t remember. It is funny how your mind blocks things out when those things can hurt you. There are a lot of things I wish I didn’t remember…

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of Ozrock – there isn’t an accolade or cliche that doesn’t apply to Jimmy Barnes. But long before Cold Chisel and Barnesy, long before the tall tales of success and excess, there was the true story of James Dixon Swan – a working class boy whose family made the journey from Scotland to Australia in search of a better life.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, which fuelled the excess and recklessness that would define, but almost destroy, the rock’n’roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have.

Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny – Jimmy Barnes’s childhood memoir is at once the story of migrant dreams fulfilled and dashed. Arriving in Australia in the Summer of 1962, things went from bad to worse for the Swan family – Dot, Jim and their six kids. The scramble to manage in the tough northern suburbs of Adelaide in the 60s would take its toll on the Swans as dwindling money, too much alcohol, and fraying tempers gave way to violence and despair. This is the story a family’s collapse, but also a young boy’s dream to escape the misery of the suburbs with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a rock’n’roll band and get out of town for good.

Comments

This Book gives the reader a warts and all insight into the lives of the poor and underprivileged in our country and the resilience of those like Jimmy Barnes who overcome their circumstances. This could be a depressing read but Jimmy’s sense of humour shines through.

After several attempts to document his early life as a ten pound Pom who arrived in Elizabeth in South Australia as a pre-schooler, until he left home at seventeen, he finally managed to tell his amazing story.

This is more than an autobiography; for Jimmy it was a therapeutic journey through very hard times. He has included several pages of contact details for help and support organisations to encourage those who may need help.

Shocking but realistic true portrait of growing up in Glasgow, amazing survival & black humour!

Read By

Dundas Readers – 6/10

Book Review: Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train – William Kuhn

Book Summary

A charming, whimsical story of what happens when a long-serving and long-suffering monarch decides to go AWOL. A richly witty, warm and wonderful novel of responsibilities, escape and friendship. 

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is growing increasingly disenchanted after her decades of public service and years of family scandal. One day, the Queen takes things into her own hands and, in a spur-of-the-moment decision, leaves the palace alone and incognito. 

An unlikely group of six, including two of the Queen’s most trusted household staff members, William and Shirley; one of her loyal ladies in waiting, Lady Anne; an equerry fresh from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Luke; a young equestrienne who minds the horses in the Royal Mews, Rebecca; and Rajiv, an Etonian spending his early 20s behind the counter in an artisanal cheese shop in Mayfair, and moonlighting as a tabloid photographer, are the only ones who know of her disappearance. They vow to find her and bring her back to the palace before MI6 turn her Scottish sojourn into a national crisis. 

Capturing the faded but enduring glamour and glory of a seemingly old-fashioned institution, and a woman who wonders if she, too, has become outmoded, this is a charming, witty and poignant novel of responsibilities and freedom. 

Comments

We all thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It brought together characters from across the Royal household, crossing the boundaries of social class, to establish respect for and friendships with each other.

At the heart of the novel, though, is The Queen. She was a real person with worries and doubts about her purpose and position. She had the same emotions as everyone else and we all felt real empathy with her. This was a wonderful ‘non-portrait’ portrait.

At the beginning of the novel staff were protective of ‘The Queen’ as an institution. By the end of the novel they were protective of ‘The Queen’ as a person.

Read by

MJ Readers

Book Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Book Summary

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew. 

Comments

A Library Book Club choice and a good one too. Federal Police, Aaron Falk and his offsider Carmen, are investigating a company fraud when their informant, Alice, who works for the company goes missing with four other employees on a team building exercise. The setting is dense forest in the Giralang Ranges in Victoria. The women lose their way and after a harrowing time only four of them emerge. What has happened?

This is a real page-turner. Jane Harper has complete control of the narrative throughout and she maintains the suspense while creating a cast of well-drawn and interesting characters.

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Dundas Readers

Book Review The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

The Other Wife 

Michael Robotham

Book Summary

A secret wife. A secret life. A killer who knows. The new bestseller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its shocking climax, by multi-million-copy selling author Michael Robotham.

William and Mary have been married sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both are strong believers in right and wrong.

William and Olivia have been together twenty years. Olivia was once a tennis star, but her career has long since faded.

Clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin knows only one of these stories to be true. But when he is called to his father’s hospital bed after a brutal attack, everything he once knew is turned upside down. Is it possible his father, the upstanding citizen, was leading a double life?

And who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

A confronting psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today, Michael Robotham, the bestselling author of The Secrets She Keeps.

Comments

We enjoyed this book. While this is apparently book no. 9 in this series, it’s the first one we have read and we don’t think you need to have read any of the previous novels.  This can be read as a standalone. We loved the main character, Joe O’Loughlin and the backstory with his girls, Charlie and Emma.  It was a compelling storyline that sparked our interest immediately and short sharp chapters that kept us moving along.  There were lots of twists and turns which kept us guessing to the end.  None of our readers picked ‘whodunit’.  We got a lost a little towards the end with a flurry of turns but overall, we found this a good book that would make a good holiday read.

Read By

Cutcha Club – 7/10

Paper Chains – Book Review

 

PAPER CHAINS

Nicola Moriarty

About the Book

A heart-warming story of family, friendship and forgiveness – and the crazy twists of fate that shape our lives…

Hannah and India are new best friends. Although true friendship means always telling each other the truth, doesn’t it…?

Hannah, you see, is running from her life back in Sydney. Now in London, she’s trying to put the past behind her, and finding this amazing new friend is a positive step forward. If only she could stop punishing herself for what she did.

India knows Hannah is hiding something big, and she’s determined to figure it out. Fast.

Because India has a secret of her own… One that is currently sealed in a love letter that’s making its journey across Europe in the most unconventional way.

Before it reaches its destination, can India help Hannah learn to forgive herself? And will Hannah wake up and realise that India needs rescuing too …?

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/paper-chains-9781742752624

Comments

As the rating (4/10) indicates, Paper Chains is ok. A vanilla romance about two young Australian women, India and Hannah who meet by chance in London. Both are running away from a traumatic event in their lives which they don’t wish to reveal.

Paper Chains is a competently written, perfectly adequate book. Would prefer a more challenging read for a book club title. Will be interested in reading the comments of other book clubs.

An enjoyable ‘light’ read.

4/10

Ready by

Dundas Readers