Book Review The Jane Austen Remedy by Ruth Wilson

About the book

At the age of seventy, Ruth Wilson blew up her life. Confronting feelings of regret and unhappiness, she left her husband, bought a sunshine-yellow cottage in the Southern Highlands and resolved to re-read the books that had shaped her formative years: Jane Austen’s six novels.

Over the next ten years, as Ruth read between the lines of both the novels and her own life, she slowly began to reclaim her identity.

Now aged ninety, Ruth shares her beautiful, life-affirming lessons in love, self-acceptance and the curative power of reading, as well as a timely reminder that it’s never too late to seize a second chance.

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Book Review The Rising Tide by Anne Cleeves

About the book

Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island, forging a bond that has lasted a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion.

Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . .

Comments

This book was enjoyed by all of our readers.

For a murder mystery there were many Red Herrings with multiple character storylines to keep readers enthralled and guessing as to who the “villain” was.

Each change of story line evoked another possible suspect and probable cause for the murders.

Most readers found the book compelling reading. The character development of the police investigation team was absorbing, and the exposure of each team member’s character flaws was enjoyed by our readers.

The sudden twist at the end of the book was found by all to be a real shock that nobody saw coming.

This book has encouraged many in our group to read more of the “Vera” books.

Read by the MJ Readers

Book Review A Song of Comfortable Chairs

Alexander McCall Smith

Summary

THE ONE WHERE MMA POTOKWANI SAVES THE DAY

Grace Makutsi’s husband, Phuti, is in a bind. An international firm is attempting to undercut his prices in the office furniture market. To make matters worse, they have a slick new advertising campaign that seems hard to beat. Nonetheless, with Mma Ramotswe’s help, Phuti comes up with a campaign that may just do the trick.

Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is approached by an old friend who has a troubled son. Grace and Phuti agree to lend a hand, but the boy proves difficult to reach, and the situation is more than they can handle on their own. It will require not only all of their patience and dedication, but also the help of Mma Ramotswe and the formidable Mma Potokwani.

Comments

This book was very much enjoyed by our group of readers.

This story is not fast paced! The narrative develops slowly in a way that beautifully illustrates the point that nothing moves fast in Botswana. Just because this book is slow paced it does not mean that the story is not engaging and entertaining.

“A Song of Comfortable Chairs’” is book number 23 in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books by McCall Smith.

The main character, Precious Ramotswe, has a wise and unhurried approach to life. Throughout the story Precious has many wise internal musings that beautifully reflect her unhurried approach to life and her aim to do things that better improve the world, but more particularly, improve her beloved country of Botswana. Precious makes wise comments and observations on many themes such as feminism, body image, ageism, globalization and the different thinking between men and women and how to accommodate and respect the views of those others.

There are many delightful characters throughout the story that also bring their own wisdom, kindness, gentleness and humour to the story.

Precious conducts her investigations with bold planning and good sense. In this story she uses her investigative skills to help save the business of her good friend and fellow detective Mme Makutsis and her husband Phuti. Mme Makutsi and Phuti are also occupied in helping an old friend who has a troubled young son.

Our group felt this story left us feeling the need to read more of the “No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” book series and also investigating more of the work done by Alexander McCall Smith.

Read by MJ Readers

Popular Australian Reads 2023

What great Australian authors have you discovered this year?

There is nothing we like better here at City of Parramatta Libraries than discussing and recommending Australian authors to our community of readers. Below is just a small selection of some of our current favourites.

Enjoy!

Seven days by Fleur Ferries

Winner of Best Young Adult novel, 2023 Davitt Awards.

When Ben is dumped with his country relatives for the holidays, he starts counting down the days until it is over, loathing every second.

However, Ben’s stay takes a sharp turn when he comes across his great-great grandfather’s journal – the final entry being from one hundred years ago, right after he was shot. With his cousin, Josh, Ben starts unravelling mysteries, lies and shocking crimes. Can the two boys beat the odds to resolve a century of bad blood between two families?

Fleur Ferries diverse background as a Paramedic and Police Officer has provided a unique narrative into current society.

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/seven-days-9781761043352

Stone town by Margaret Hickey

With its gold-rush history long in the past, Stone Town has seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons . . .

When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a property developer, whose controversial plan to buy up local land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However, his gruesome murder is overshadowed by a mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsed.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook’ Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

Following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game . . .

Margaret Hickey is a playwright & author who has a strong interest in rural communities.

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/stone-town-9781761048692

The all of it by Cadance Bell

Seven years ago, Ben was loveless, overweight, in debt and living in his parents’ rumpus room, trying to find a way to quietly die. Days passed by in a haze of marijuana smoke and self-loathing. Then, one day, Ben decided not to die. He decided to change everything – starting with the Ben bit. Becoming Cadance would be more than a gender transition. It would be a transition in every way. It would mean leaving behind a rural Mudgee childhood filled with Frogger, hot chips, Godliness, and a forbidden love of Sarah Parker’s My Little Pony; and the violence, drugs and secrecy that plagued her twenties. Choosing to live was just the beginning; what mattered was how she existed.

Cadance Bell is a storyteller whose various pieces have appeared in The Guardian, popular blogs – ‘Rainbow Roo’ and ‘I miss pockets’. Documentaries to explore include ‘Rainbow Passage’ and ‘Who I am’. Candances’ hobbies and interests include playing Pokemon Go and eating burritos.

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-all-of-it-9781761045028

Believe by Sam Frost

Believe a mental health initiative created by Sam Frost and supported by her sister Krister is an online community forum inclusive to everyone focussing on mental health subjects as depression, anxiety, unhealthy relationships and dealing with the challenges of social media.

Believe has progressed from an online community forum into a great book!

In Believe, Sam shares her own experiences navigating dark mental health periods and, alongside Kristine’s own insights, offers warm, gentle inspiration and tips to help you come through to the other side of your own. Believe is a personal story, a battle cry and a reassurance for the many of Sam’s fans who have struggled as she has.

https://www.believebysamfrost.com/about

https://www.hachette.com.au/book/believe

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