A great book club choice. Albert Facey’s life spans most of the twentieth century and his memoir written in later life for his children and grandchildren has justly become an Australian classic. From his infancy in the Eastern states to his early childhood in Kalgoorlie and in many small towns in country Western Australia, we follow the gruelling and heart rending story of his early childhood. Abandoned by his mother as a toddler, his wonderful Grandma is his anchor. He is reunited with his mother and family as a teenager and takes a range of challenging jobs until the outbreak of the first world war. He fights in the hellish conditions at Gallipoli where he received wounds which stayed with him throughout his long life. Despite these hardships, he remains optimistic and hard working and meets and marries his soul mate Evelyn. They have six children. Simply written by a man who had no formal schooling, this is a valuable historic document as well as a touching and wonderful read.
Although we all felt that this book was well written, the topic did not capture us and most of our members did not finish reading it. The author was obviously very passionate about his topic but we found much of it depressing and repetitive. What we did take away from our discussion was that in the early days of settlement of the land people were fighting against the environment to survive whereas now we are fighting for the environment to survive. We can learn from the past, recognise mistakes and good intentions and make better choices.
The words ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘painfully funny’ are on the cover of this book. These words resonated with us along with harrowing, crude and humourous. It’s the story of a commitment that turns from hope to sadness to burnout. We felt grateful for all that medicine provided but were sorry for the unseen personal cost to many of those who practised it. We came aware feeling more educated and aware of the realities of life as a young doctor and the running of the public medical system.
Read by MJ Readers
Lion A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Lion, by Saroo Brierley, is a very simplistic narrative relating the story of Saroo’s search for his birth mother. While the events of his young life were remarkable to those of us living in the western world, the writing of his story was not as gripping as one might imagine it should have been. It was no doubt a cathartic process for him to record it, but as a group we did not find it to be as powerful and emotive as we had hoped.
How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?
One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.
Six minutes later, Bella is gone.
Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.
Is Bella’s disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room?
What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?
The clock is ticking…
Bella has gone missing after she was left in the care of the playgroup mums Lexie meets up with once a week. She was only gone for six minutes. Where is she? What has happened to her?
As mothers, this would be our worst nightmare! Very relatable story, with lots of twists and turns that kept most of us guessing to the end. A few of our readers picked who had done what, but not necessarily why that had done it. Some of our readers found it a little hard to empathise with the main characters. We thought the premise was great, but it left us wanting a little more. Overall, we thought the book was well written. Another good book, set in Australia, from a first time Australian author.
We’d recommend this for readers who like Liane Moriarty books.
The darkest part of our recent history, this story is the heartrending account of two survivors of Auschwitz. Lale and Gita met during three horrendous years of incarceration and their story is a tribute to their survival against all odds. History made personal in this way leaves a lingering mark on readers. A book well written and researched and well worth reading.
This novel was written with so many layers. It was complex yet at it’s heart, a family story with real, relatable characters.
We found the writing in the beginning chaotic but as the story evolved, it was very reflective of the lives of the characters. The style reminded us of a children’s spirograph with all the interwoven, bouncing lines coming together to form a resolution of reconnection, healing and love.
We so enjoyed the use of metaphors, succinct language and vivid descriptions. They had us laughing and crying. A novel well worth taking the time to read.
After I finished writing the blog post for the February wrap-up, and told you all what I was planning on reading, I literally changed my mind as soon as I clicked post. I blame Kate, one of my reading colleagues here at the library, for filling my head with even more reading suggestions.
This was such a beautifully written book. Although a fictional take on what Elizabeth Macarthur might have thought and said, I found myself believing whole-heartedly that Elizabeth’s voice was real!
What if Elizabeth Macarthur – wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney – had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented. Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none – this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear – at last! – what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought. At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age – the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.
I am really struggling to write my review for ‘Normal People’, even after discussing the book with my colleague Sarah. Therefore, I will keep it short and to the point. I loved the writing! Just was not interested in the storyline. I am going to watch the screen adaptation and see if this changes my opinion.
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.
Once again, Paige Toon managed to keep me glued to the pages until I had finished the whole book. How can one writer manage to write one amazing book, after another? Magic if you ask me! If you enjoy Chick Lit and haven’t read any of Paige Toon’s books give them a try. You will not be disappointed.
Alice is 18 and about to start university while Joe’s life is seemingly going nowhere. A Dorset summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever. But their idyll is shattered, suddenly, unexpectedly. Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Joe is gone; she cannot find him. When she catches the attention of Lukas – gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas – she is carried along by his charm, swept up in his ambitious plans for a future together. Then Joe is there, once more, but out of reach in a way that Alice could never have imagined. Life has moved on, the divide between them is now so great. Surely it is far too late to relive those perfect summer days of long ago?
I have not finished this one yet, but I am more than half way through and enjoying it. I like the characters and want to know how their story ends.
What do you get when you cross a painfully awkward son, lofty comedic ambition and a dead best friend? Norman. Norman and Jax are a legendary comedy duo in the making, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they’re fifteen. But then Jax dies before they even turn twelve. Norman’s mum Sadie knows she won’t win Mother of the Year anytime soon, and she really doesn’t know, or care, who Norman’s father is. But her heart is broken when she discovers her grieving son’s revised plan – ‘Find Dad’ and ‘Get to the Edinburgh Fringe’. If meeting his dad and performing at the Festival are the two things that will help Norman through this devastating time, then Sadie is going to make them happen. So, mother and son set off from Cornwall, with their friend Leonard in his vintage Austin Maxi, on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh – to honour Jax and to track down a few maybe-fathers on the way…
We were lucky enough to host Julietta Henderson in an online author talk. You can check out the recording here at parra.city/nswplevents
Now! Down to the business of April’s to be read, thriller list. I am hoping to read at least one of the books listed below.