Book Review One Life My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville

One Life: My Mother’s Story 

Kate Grenville

Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again!

When Kate Grenville’s mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life, the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change. In many ways Nance’s story echoes that of many mothers and grandmothers, for whom the spectacular shifts of the twentieth century offered a path to new freedoms and choices. In other ways Nance was exceptional. In an era when women were expected to have no ambitions beyond the domestic, she ran successful businesses as a registered pharmacist, laid the bricks for the family home, and discovered her husband’s secret life as a revolutionary.

One Life is an act of great imaginative sympathy, a daughter’s intimate account of the patterns in her mother’s life. It is a deeply moving homage by one of Australia’s finest writers.

Comments

We enjoyed most of this story, but there was a lot of repetition about some aspects, such as her life as an apprentice at the shop, family issues, which boy to pursue and some of the politics.

We thought the writing style was a bit unsophisticated but think that Kate Grenville was trying to express things using her mother’s voice and expressions since it was her mother’s story.

The second half of the book dragged a bit and we couldn’t understand her reaction on finding out about her husband’s affair since she’d had one herself with their good friend.

It showed how hard it was for women in unhappy marriages to leave when they had children and no way of supporting themselves.

Overall, we thought it showed how far the role of women has come in the workforce. We had never considered the challenges faced around childcare in a time when there was nothing established outside family help. She certainly had courage setting up her businesses and helping to build the house. Nance was an impressive woman for her time.

Wishing readers happy summer reading, from the Dundas Readers.

Group Rating 7/10

PERFECT PAGE TURNERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BOOK NINJA by ALI BERG & MICHELLE KALUS

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do. It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment.Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams.

Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really.A clever, funny and wryly observed story about books and discovering who you really are.

THE HIGH TIDE CLUB by MARY KAY ANDREWS

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.
Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club – so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades – Millie, Ruth and Varina.
Even at the end of her life, Josephine seems unwilling or unable to face her past, deliberately evading Brooke’s questions. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met. What follows is a tale of a romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered and true love found. It’s Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best.’

THOSE OTHER WOMEN by  NICOLA MORIARTY

Poppy and Annalise are driven mad by mums enjoying special privileges at work while they pick up the slack. Setting up a Facebook group to vent about smug mummies is just a healthy outlet – right? But as their new group’s membership soars, the frustrated women start confronting mums in the real world. Cafes become battlegrounds, playgrounds become warzones and offices have never been more divided. A rivalry that was once harmless fun is about to spiral out of Poppy and Annalise’s control. Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own…

HOW TO WALK AWAY  by  KATHERINE CENTER

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiance she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiance, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

STELLA AND MARGIE  by  GLENNA THOMSON

A beautiful novel about two women – a generation apart – thrown together by circumstance, who slowly come to love and understand one another.
Stella and her mother-in-law Margie are two very different women.
Stella is kind, compassionate and just a little chaotic. Margie is prickly, demanding and a stickler for convention. Stella has exciting dreams for the future. Margie has only bitter memories of the past.
When Margie needs help recovering from a major operation, Stella offers her a place to stay. With no other options, Margie returns to the family farm where for decades, until Stella’s arrival, she was the one in charge. Margie has never made life easy for her daughter-in-law, and that’s not going to change now she’s been made a guest in her former home. But as the dry summer turns to a beautiful autumn, the two women gradually form an unlikely bond, as the ambitions, secrets, and tragedies that have shaped their lives are slowly uncovered…

THE WHOLE BRIGHT YEAR  by  DEBRA OSWALD

In the summer of 1976 it’s picking season on an Australian stone-fruit orchard run by Celia, a hard-working woman in her early forties. Years ago, when her husband was killed as a bystander in an armed robbery, Celia left the city and brought her newborn daughter Zoe to this farm for a secure life. Now sixteen, Zoe is a passionate, intelligent girl, chafing against her mother’s protectiveness, yearning to find intensity and a bit of danger.

Barging into this world as itinerant fruit-pickers come a desperate brother and sister from Sydney. The hard-bitten Sheena has kidnapped her wild, ebullient eighteen-year-old brother Kieran and dragged him out west, away from trouble in the city. Kieran and Zoe are drawn to each other the instant they meet, sparking excitement, worry, lust, trouble . . .

STILL ME by  JOJO MOYES

Lou Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is hurled into the world of the super-rich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past.

In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets – not all her own – that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

SURPRISE ME  by  SOPHIE KINSELLA

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor reveals they could live another 68 years together… and panic sets in. They never expected ‘until death do us part’ to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring.
But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakeable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that questions some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all…

 

 

 

 

 

Book Club: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Wild: a journey from lost to found by Cheryl Strayed

Summary

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington State – and to do it along. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.
Comments

Off the back of two books that had divided our group, we were hoping this one would reunite and inspire us.. Unfortunately it did not.  We again had 2 distinct groups, those who liked and enjoyed the book and those who did not. For as many of us who liked the main character, finding her journey inspiring and showing us we can all find strength when we need it the most; there were just as many members in our group who found her a little whiny and annoying.

The book was well written, with the flashback scenes breaking up the long hiking sections. For those of us who did like the book, we found it an enjoyable read with enough interesting characters to keep us turning the pages.

Rating – 7/10

Read by Culcha Club

 

Book Club: I came to say goodbye by Caroline Overington

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Abstract

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train

Comments

This was a much anticipated read for our group.  It had been a popular choice when we selected our book titles a few months back.  For some, it more than lived up to expectations, enjoying the plot twists and turns.  While others found it a bit underwhelming.. A bit.. meh?

This was another book that really divided opinions amongst our group, generating lots of discussion.  We all found the book to be well written, with characters that made us feel something.. Whether that be love or hate!  Those who loved it; liked the plot twists and the suspense.  Those who didn’t like it, found it hard to like the main characters.

Rating – 7.5 / 10

Read by Culcha Club

 

I Came to Say Goodbye

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I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

A young woman pushed through the hospital doors. She walked into the nursery, where a baby girl lay sleeping. The infant didn’t wake when the woman placed her gently in the shopping bag she had brought with her. There is CCTV footage of what happened next, and most Australians would have seen it, either on the internet or the news. The woman walked out to the car park, towards an old Corolla. For a moment, she held the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smelled her. She then clipped the infant into the car, got in and drove off. That is where the footage ends. It isn’t where the story ends, however. It’s not even where the story starts.

Comments

A disturbing and at times, harrowing read, that was heart-breaking because of its reality.  A very well written story that had us turning the pages quicker than an Aldi catalogue wanting to know what else could possibly happen or go wrong for this family.

While we liked the way the writer told the story, in letter form to a judge, some struggled to sympathise with him and other characters.  We all felt like they all could have done more or should have done more for each other.  This is the first book in a little while that has generated a lot of discussion within our group.  Over who did and why they did it. And who was at fault. And if the grandfather had intervened earlier, like he had always intended too, would any of this have ever happened.  We wondered where the mother went and why she seemed to have had no contact with anyone after she left.  Did some of the blame lay with her for simply disappearing from her children’s lives.

We found it a difficult to rate this book.  While we all agreed that while the writing was well done, we found the subject a little heavy and depressing and not something we wanted to scale too highly as to mislead other readers.

Read by  Cultcha Club

Rated – 6/10