This month, two of our Dundas book clubs read and reviewed ‘The Things She Owned‘ by Katherine Tamiko Arguille and ‘The Surviors‘ by Jane Harper. Which just happen to be two of our new Book Club Kits; I hope they enjoyed them!
Read what they thought below!
The Things She Owned by Katherine Tamiko Arguille
Years after the death of her cruel and complicated mother, Erika is still surrounded by the things she left behind: an onigiri basket, a Wedgwood tea set, a knotted ring from Okinawa. Against her Japanese family’s wishes, Erika has also kept the urn containing her mother’s ashes and bones, refusing to put Michiko’s memory to rest. She ignores her grief, throwing herself into her work as a chef at a high-end London restaurant. But when a cousin announces that she will be visiting from Japan, Erika’s resolve begins to crack.
Slowly the things Michiko owned reveal stories of her youth amid the upheaval of Tokyo during and after the Second World War. As the two women’s stories progress and entwine, Erika is drawn to Okinawa, the island of her ancestors. It’s a place of magic and mysticism where the secrets of Erika’s own past are waiting to be revealed.
We all enjoyed this book finding it engaging and easy to read.
We found it to be well written and researched with in depth characterisations and descriptions, historical facts and cultural lessons, and had us discussing the roles of propaganda and traditions.
The cultural perspectives on the roles of women and the treatment of minorities particularly interested us and the quote, “Things are never as straight forward as they seem”, was very relevant to the story. The ideas of resilience, guilt and dependence were all woven into the plot as well.
We would happily recommend this book, although some of the strong language we found a little gratuitous.
The MJ Readers Book Club
The Survivors by Jane Harper
Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.
The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.
Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.
When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…
Our fourth Jane Harper novel, and she does not disappoint!
Harper’s writing is brilliant!! We love the way she makes us feel like we are wherever the book is set. In the seaside coastal town of Evelyn Bay, with the waves crashing on the beach with the Survivors looking over it, or in the caves at low tide or simply walking down the main street of the small town, heading to the local surf club.
The author also paints a very realistic approach to a family struggling, each with their own grief and guilt from a family tragedy. We found the storylines involving Kieran’s dad and how they are coping since his diagnosis with dementia was beautifully written. We loved how relatable all the characters were. Either the main characters, Kieran and his family, or the supporting characters, Ash, Olivia and Sean. We were completely invested in their stories from who they had been to who they were now. She also kept us guessing to the end, with a multitude of plausible red herrings that kept us guessing till the very end. While we didn’t llooovvee this one as much as “The Dry” or “The Lost Man”, it is still an incredible read that we definitely recommend it!
8.5 out of 10