Author Spotlight, Sally Hepworth

The Christmas break proved to be the perfect opportunity to finally read some of Sally Hepworth’s books. Sally Hepworth is one author who I have been wanting to read for a while. It is fair to say I had fairly high expectations of this author as her books are always in demand by library members and book clubs and I wasn’t disappointed.

I started my reading off with Sally’s latest book, ‘The younger wife’; which had the perfect mix of family drama and dark long hidden secrets.

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease. Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over – particularly while carrying the shameful secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, her soon-to-be stepdaughters have secrets of their own.

The story is told from the view of the three main characters, sisters Tully & Rachel, and Heather, their dad’s new younger wife. I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much as it gave me the opportunity to get to know each character and decide if I like them or not.  While it was clear each of the characters in the books were holding onto some distressing secrets from their past, this was only slightly expanded on. Though the story touches on some serious issues such as rape, eating disorders, kleptomania and both verbal and domestic abuse it never delves deeper into the details and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. ‘The younger wife‘ left me eager to read more of Sally’s books. 

The next book I read was, ‘The family next door’. I was intrigued by the premise of the story.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street. Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

What better way to get a readers attention then to mention a close knit street and mothers!

I enjoyed this book from the start and found all of the women in the story likeable. I couldn’t wait to read on and find out what hidden secrets each of the women were holding onto. I finished this book in one sitting and enjoyed it from start to finish.

I am currently reading ‘The good sister’ and am loving it so far.

As you can probably tell by now, I consider myself a huge fan of Sally Hepworth’s books and will continue to read my way through all her books while I eagerly await the release of her next release which I hope will be in 2022.

Happy reading,

Jody

Should you wish to learn more about Sally Hepworth and her books take a look at her website. Sally is Dymocks ‘author of the month’ and there is a great Q&A interview to watch for those who are interested. 

Book Review Educated by Tara Westover

Another book reviews by the Dundas Readers, enjoy!

Summary

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

Comments

A marvelous autobiography by an amazing young woman. “Educated” is set in Idaho, USA where Tara and her sister and five brothers were brought up by  radical fundamentalist Mormon parents. Her father, who has complete control over the family, makes a living buying and selling scrap metal. Her mother is an untrained midwife who also makes and sells homeopathic herbal remedies. Tara and her siblings don’t attend school and her father forbids contact with doctors and hospitals.

in her early teens Tara begins to wonder and then to question their lifestyle and beliefs. She passes an admission test to attend University at the age of sixteen and begins an agonising search for self-hood. This is summed up in her own words: “what is a person to do, I asked, when their obligations to their family conflict with other obligations – to friends, to society, to themselves”.

A beautifully written and heart rending story of our times.

Read by Dundas Readers, our score – 8.5/10

Book Review Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Our MJ Readers book club enjoyed reading ‘Force of Nature‘ by Jane Harper this month. Read their thoughts below.

About the Book

Lost, Cold, Desperate … Danger Runs Deep

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. (from the publisher)

Comments

As with Jane Harper’s other novels, we felt that the environment was a central ‘character’ in this story. It was a menacing force that emphasised the dysfunctional relationships, frailties, jealousies and paranoia that each character displayed in some degree. We were drawn in by the story and it kept us guessing to the end. The conclusion was cleverly tied up and there was healing and understanding of how regrets from the past impacted each character and their ongoing relationships. Another enjoyable read.

Read by MJ Readers

The Hush by Sara Foster

Sara Foster‘s latest novel, ‘The Hush‘ is one I have been eagerly awaiting from the moment it was announced!

After the long months of anticipation I finally got to experience the joy of walking into the book store & picking up my copy of ‘The Hush’. I eagerly read the blurb to find out what Sara Foster had in store for me this time around and boy was I super surprised and excited! I could instantly tell I would be in for a late night of reading.

Set in England, in the not too distant future ‘The Hush’ was action packed from the very start. After months of otherwise healthy babies being stillborn, the British government has introduced new laws which allow them to monitor a persons every move. Wrist watches are used to track peoples locations, pregnant teenage girls are disappearing without a trace and women’s freedoms are quickly becoming non existent.

For those readers who are long time fans of Sara Foster’s books prepare to be blown away! ‘The Hush’ is completely different from any of Sara’s previous books, but is totally brilliant and a story that is very relevant to our times. Who wouldn’t enjoy reading about strong, intelligent women who support each other and join together to stand up for their basic human rights. This is the women’s thriller we didn’t know we needed. I want more!

‘The Hush’ gets a rating of 5/5 from me. My only advice is read it slowly if you can because once you finish it you will wish you hadn’t.

Anyway enough gushing from me now. I am off to purchase some copies of Sara’s previous books to keep me satisfied while I wait the one or two years before I get to read a new one! I know it sounds crazy but re-reading books by authors you enjoy is so relaxing and enjoyable. I only wish I wouldn’t keep giving my copies away because I am so eager to share.

Happy reading,

Jody

P.S.

If you are wondering why I buy my books when I work in a library it is so our library members don’t have to wait longer for our new releases.

Book Review The Foundling by Stacey halls

This month Dundas Library’s MJ Readers Book Club listened to their first eAudiobook, The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Two women from different worlds. And a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Comments

This was our first audiobook and we all enjoyed listening to it. The descriptive writing and characterisations were engaging with power, privilege, isolation, poverty, love and trauma as the key themes. As an example of historical fiction, we each responded differently to how the basic, factual framework was treated. Some felt that the ending in particular was improbable given the time and social mores, others enjoyed the ‘happy ending’, feeling that the characters had developed empathy and understanding. The story touched each of us and led to meaningful discussion.

Read by the MJ Readers Book Club