Book Review Jessica

Jessica by Bryce Courtenay

About the book

Jessica is based on the inspiring true story of a young girl’s fight for justice against tremendous odds.
A tomboy, Jessica is the pride of her father, as they work together on the struggling family farm. One quiet day, the peace of the bush is devastated by a terrible murder. Only Jessica is able to save the killer from the lynch mob – but will justice prevail in the courts?

Nine months later, a baby is born … with Jessica determined to guard the secret of the father’s identity. The rivalry of Jessica and her beautiful sister for the love of the same man will echo throughout their lives – until finally the truth must be told.

Set in the harsh Australian bush against the outbreak of World War I, this novel is heartbreaking in its innocence, and shattering in its brutality.

Comments

Our group was divided in their enjoyment of this book with some finding the story an enjoyable and informative read while others were very put off by the nastiness of some characters all throughout the book. So many morally bankrupt people.

The characters were found to be very one dimensional, either “Black or White” in their moral and ethical “goodness.”

Another criticism was about the story line which, to some, was very convoluted.

A few of our readers know the region this story was set in and found the author struggled to describe the Australian bush adequately.

However, those that liked the book really enjoyed it! 

There was agreement that the second half of the book was more enjoyable and informative than the first half of the book. The characters were more dimensional and the legal proceedings regarding stolen generation children and families were thought provoking and revealing. 

Some readers did not enjoy the first half of the book enough to continue on for the second half developments. They found this book depressing

We found this was definitely not a book for people who have inter-family traumas, and some found it to be a long read waiting for something good to happen.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Review The Railwayman’s Wife

The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashely Hay

About the book

In a small town on the land’s edge, in the strange space at a war’s end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway’s library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank Draper is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Comments

We found this to be a beautifully written book, very much enjoyed by the group. Some readers did say this was not a book that was for them or a book they would normally have chosen but they commended the lovely writing style of the author.

As a group we found the key characters were very likable.

The downside for our group was the focus on poetry all throughout the book. We found the poetry written in the story was not at all outstanding or enjoyable and to some readers it was bland and uninspiring.

There were many themes in this story discussed in detail by the group.

Anika, the main character in the book. Her transformation from a secure loving and loved wife and mother to a grieving widow, mother to a grieving child and thrust quickly, through necessity’ into working woman.

We found the grieving process for Anika and her daughter in the year after Macs death was a well detailed theme throughout the book.

Anikas relationship with Mac, her husband. Her reflections on their life after his death reveals some marital restrictions placed on her throughout their marriage that were not evident to her at the time during their marriage. 

This book was read by our group in April, the month of Anzac day. The post war traumas of Roy and Frank were very relevant at this time along with Australian society’s attitude to men who did not go to war for whatever reasons.

The character of Roy was also complex in his presentation. His romanticised view of Anika as his “muse” not one year after the violent death of her husband.

The ending of the story was also discussed at length with many differing opinions on interpretation of events and specific character responses to events.

Read by MJ Readers

A year of eAudiobooks

Why listening to eAudiobooks is my favourite thing to do!

I am not ashamed to admit, that if I cannot listen to an eAudiobook daily; I tend to turn into an irritable, tired toddler.

At the end of a long eight hours of work, the only way I can make it through the commute home is to turn on my current eAudiobook and relax into an hour of non interrupted bliss.

Making time for reading can be difficult, that is why I love listening to eAudiobooks. Anywhere, anytime I can be transported to another world, time and place. eAudiobooks bring the story to life and provides a deeper connection to the story and characters.

To all those non-believers out there I say, “don’t knock it until you try it”.

Included in this post are the eAudiobooks I have listened to this year plus, a few of my favourites that I listen to every year. My hope is that you too will discover something great to listen to.

All the amazing eAudiobooks below can be accessed via City of Parramatta Libraries Borrow Box collection.

Happy listening,

Jody

My absolute favourites! eAudiobooks I listen to each year.

Book Review The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Summary

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

From the publisher

Comments

As a group, we had not read much historical fiction, or knew very much about the role female spies had played in WW1 and WWII. However,  we were impressed and enjoyed the history lesson! We quite liked The Alice Network.  We love a story told from different points of views, through alternating chapters.  In this case, moving back and forth between Eve during the war, and Charlie, after the war as she searched for her lost cousin.  While we loved Eve’s story, riveted and turning pages quickly to get back to her side of the story; we struggled a little with Charlie.  We didn’t connect as well with her, however, we loved the small cast of supporting characters. We were amazed to learn at the end that some characters had been based on real people and that some of these events had actually happened. Overall, we would recommend this one for anyone who loves a historical fiction read. 

Read by Cultcha Club