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)
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.
Below is another book review from our amazing, MJ Readers book club.
The MJ Readers are a dedicated group of readers who managed to stay connected and enjoy their books & discussions all the way through COVID lockdown. Well done MJ Readers, thank you for inspiring as all!
Our group thoroughly enjoyed this book. It explored such an array of emotions. At the heart was loneliness and grief but there was also tolerance, understanding, empathy, kindness, love and acceptance. The mystery of Eleanor’s plight was gently unravelled and she grew and developed as her connections to others and their positive examples of family, love and commitment influenced her. The discovery and understanding of her past were devastating but we were left with a sense of hope for her and appreciation of how much loneliness creates a shell that can be so hard to break. It was also food for thought on how loneliness impacts people during these restricted times.
In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
Our group thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We loved the descriptive writing, the historical perspective, the believable characters and the gentle, interesting way the emancipation of women was treated. We savoured the warmth of the relationships between families and women. It was a love story that involved people, places and language. The treatment of women’s suffrage ran throughout the story but we weren’t ‘hit over the head’ with it. We were connected to it in a subtle, sympathetic way as we observed it through the life of the main character and her observations of others and understanding of the use and meaning of words. Learning how the dictionary was compiled was also fascinating. A great read.
The words ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘painfully funny’ are on the cover of this book. These words resonated with us along with harrowing, crude and humourous. It’s the story of a commitment that turns from hope to sadness to burnout. We felt grateful for all that medicine provided but were sorry for the unseen personal cost to many of those who practised it. We came aware feeling more educated and aware of the realities of life as a young doctor and the running of the public medical system.
Read by MJ Readers
Lion A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Lion, by Saroo Brierley, is a very simplistic narrative relating the story of Saroo’s search for his birth mother. While the events of his young life were remarkable to those of us living in the western world, the writing of his story was not as gripping as one might imagine it should have been. It was no doubt a cathartic process for him to record it, but as a group we did not find it to be as powerful and emotive as we had hoped.
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships … Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.
Adam Kay was a junior doctor working for the NHS (British Healthcare) before turning his hand to writing comedy. The book is full of snippets of diary entries that he kept from his time working as a junior doctor. While very British, with a few references some may not understand, this one had us laughing out loud and sharing stories one minute to holding back tear the next. We thoroughly enjoyed this one. And being mothers, we enjoyed the insight into an OBGYN ward. Wonderfully written with a new appreciation for all healthcare professionals.