Book Review An Isolated Incident

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

Summary

When 25-year-old Bella Michaels is brutally murdered in the small town of Strathdee, the community is stunned and a media storm descends.

Unwillingly thrust into the eye of that storm is Bella’s beloved older sister, Chris, a barmaid at the local pub, whose apparent easygoing nature conceals hard-won wisdom and the kind of street-smarts only experience can bring.

As Chris is plunged into despair and searches for answers, reasons, explanation – anything – that could make even the smallest sense of Bella’s death, her ex-husband, friends and neighbours do their best to support her. But as the days tick by with no arrest, Chris’s suspicion of those around her grows.

Comments

This book was not quite the psychological thriller we thought it was. It was more about the friends and family left behind after a loved one is murdered, violently. The love/hate relationship they have with the media. While we understand what the book was trying to get across, we felt it didn’t quite hit the mark. For the most part, the book was well written, and engaging despite the grim subject. The main characters we are little hard to connect with.  We sympathised with Chris, and felt her pain, but some of her actions were questionable.  We found ourselves reading to the end, wanting to know who did it, why they did it, and how many managed to get the victim in their own car in such a public space without being noticed.  

Rating 7.5/10

Book Review Breath by Tim Winton

Breath by Tim Winton

Tim Winton’s Breath, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, is a story about the wildness of youth and learning to live with its passing.

When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid’s parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him.

A relentlessly gripping and deeply moving novel about the damage you do to yourself when you’re young and think you’re immortal.

Comments

We were unanimous in our assessment of this wonderful book by Tim Winton. A vivid depiction of a beautiful and largely unspoilt area of the south-western Australian coastline is the setting for this coming of age story. At first glance this is a novel about two bored young teenage boys in a small town seeking adventure and a hero to emulate. However, their relationship with Sando and Eva, a couple of outsiders new to the town, and the underlying problems in all their lives are the basis for a much darker scenario.

The boys, Pikelet and Loonie, and Sando are all dare devil surfers entranced by the wild danger of this area of the coast. Throughout the book the fear, exhilaration and challenge of surfing in ever more dangerous conditions is ever-present as one of the death-defying activities which induce an adrenaline rush. Other far darker exploits such as auto-erotic asphixiation, Sandos power over the very impressionable boys and Pikelet’s sexual encounters with the emotionally unstable Eva, all contribute to serious problems in later life.

A book which we agreed deserves a second reading just to admire again the wisdom and depth of this wonderful Australian novelist.

Read by Dundas Readers

Book Review Australia Reimagined by Hugh Mackay

Australia Reimagined by Hugh Mackay

Summary

Australia’s unprecedented run of economic growth has failed to deliver a more stable or harmonious society. Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted – whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or ‘stuff’.

Yet esteemed social researcher Hugh Mackay remains optimistic. Twenty-five years ago, he revolutionised Australian social analysis with the publication of Reinventing Australia. Now he takes another unflinching look at us and offers some compelling proposals for a more compassionate and socially cohesive Australia. You might not agree with everything he suggests, but you’ll find it hard to get some of his ideas out of your head.

Comments

We found this book thought-provoking and readable.  Book discusses ideas about our society that are important for us to think about and encouraged group conversation.

Develop community and compassion.   Know & help your neighbours, listen to other points of view.  Join book clubs & conversation groups, attend local picnics in parks and local street parties, connect with locals.

Strengthen public education.   Inequity of public money funding private schools.   Offer quality education to all.   Phase out government money for private schools.

Mentor young teachers.  “School-teaching has more impact on the kind of society we will become-more impact on the heart of the nation-than any other profession you can think of.”

Published in 2018.  We would be interested to read what Hugh Mackay would have to say about Australia now, post covid.

Final chapter has a list of wants.  “I want to live in a society where we treat other people as we ourselves would want to be treated.”

We would recommend this book to other bookclubs.   9/10 for provoking thought, discussion & listening. Ready by the MJ Readers

Book Review The Good People

The Good People by Hannah Kent

Summary

In the year 1825, in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland, three women are brought together by strange and troubling events.

Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson: a boy who suffers from a mysterious malady and can neither walk nor speak. Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a servant girl, Mary, who soon hears whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall on the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person who might be able to help Michaél. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken …

Comments

Chosen for our book club this is Hannah Kent’s second novel and like her first, ‘Burial Rites‘ it is a grim read.

Set in the remote area of south-west Ireland in 1825 it tell of the events leading up to the downing death of a very disabled four year old boy. His grandmother has been his carer after the death of her daughter and more recently her husband. She hires a young teenage to help with his care and other duties. Some of the people in the village believe in ‘The Good People’ (fairies with the knowledge to ‘sweep’ people to join them in their realm and replace them with a ‘changeling’). Because of the boy’s strange behaviour, they are convinced that he has been ‘swept’ by the ‘Good People’ and seek help by Nancy Roach, an old woman who is said to have knowledge to heal people.

Around these three main characters are many villagers all of whom are poor, illiterate and living in rudimentary huts, which are often shared with a milking goat. From the beginning Kent sets up an atmosphere charged with menace, superstition and destitution in a cold, wet environment. Kent writes brilliantly about this setting which is a critical part of the novel.

Not a happy read but one has to admire the skill of this author to keep her audience reading what is a perfectly awful tale….

6/10 – Read by Dundas Readers Book Club

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