Book Review Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend

Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Sara has never left Sweden but at the age of 28 she decides it’s time. She cashes in her savings, packs a suitcase full of books and sets off for Broken Wheel, Iowa, a town where she knows nobody.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

With a little help from the locals, Sara sets up Broken Wheel’s first bookstore. The shop might be a little quirky but then again, so is Sara. And as Broken Wheel’s story begins to take shape, there are some surprises in store for Sara too.


We enjoyed reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and the majority have either read the book twice or intend to read it again. Two people felt reading the book once was enough. The importance of relationships and the power of books to transform lives are explored in depth. Some friendships seem unlikely but lead to powerful and meaningful relationships that transform their lives and those around them. The small, dying community of Broken Wheel in Iowa is actually quite vibrant and embraces change and reveals depth to their commitment to each other that is inspiring. Some characters lack credibility; the affair between God-fearing Caroline and bi-sexual Josh. Amy dominates the book and our readers really looked forward to reading Amy’s letters. Amy reveals the power of the absent character, and she gives background information and shares wisdom.

“I’ve seen people completely caught up in their problems; they practically creep in beneath their skin and eat them up from within.” (p69)

Literature dominates; some characters avoid books whereas reading is Sara’s obsession.  She does not want to be a minor character. A balance is important; reading opens doors, but obsession hinders relationship opportunities. Balance is achieved in the novel, and everyone is enriched. Opening the bookshop revitalises the town and stirs the people to act as a community. Sara can suggest the right book for everyone.

We enjoyed the humour sprinkled throughout the book; Dewey, the library cat; are dreams subject to inflation and discussing the book triggered discussion about many things including how people change, apartheid, cancel culture and Stalin’s wine cellar.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Review – The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist’s journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, ‘brilliant’ but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the ‘mundane, middle class existence’ she had always craved. In her apartment, overlooked by ‘a portrait of someone else’s ancestor’ she recounts poignant remembered images of star watching with her father, juxtaposed with recollections of irregular meals, accidents and police-car chases and reveals her complex feelings of shame, guilt, pity and pride toward her parents.


This was a novel that drew so much discussion. There were so many instances of neglect, abuse and cruelty and yet, at the core, the siblings supported each other showing resilience and intelligence.

It is a real testament to human spirit, family relationships and survival. It also highlights the influence a good teacher can have and the ‘ripple effect’ that positive influence can make.

Read by the MJ Readers 9/10

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.


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

Book Review The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz


She Planned Her Own Funeral. But Did She Arrange Her Murder?

A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.
What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.


This was a little “take-it-or-leave-it” for our group unfortunately.

There were some interesting characters and the behind-the-scenes insight into how a detective works seemed like a good idea.  However, we found it very slow to start with, and the author being part of the story was too distracting for some of our readers.

It did keep us guessing till the end with a great twist revealing who the murderer was that pulled us all back in a little.

Rating 6/10

Read by – Cultcha Club

Book Review: Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald


It all begins with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from Broken Wheel, Iowa. After two years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, who has never been anywhere in her life, decides it’s time to visit Amy. But when she gets there, she finds her friend’s house empty, Amy’s funeral guests just heading home…So, Sara finds herself all alone. But what choice do the inhabitants of Broken Wheel have but to take care of their bewildered tourist? And what choice does Sara have, faced with a growing desire to honour her friend and her beloved little town, but to set up her perfect bookshop with all the books she and Amy shared – from Joyce Carol Oates and Iris Murdoch to Bridget Jones and Little House on the Prairie?



As our first read together the “Dundas Readers” had a mixed response to Swedish author Katarina Bivald’s first novel, “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend”. In our initial meeting in July we had selected this novel because of its quirky title and its suggested study of relationships.

Most of us felt we could recommend it as a light read although the characters were not fully developed and the small USA town of Broken Wheel and its neighbouring town of Hope were in some ways unrealistic.

The author’s style in using letters from Amy to her Swedish pen pal Sara was successful in introducing Amy to us, who otherwise is not alive at the time of the story.

On a scale of 1-10 we gave it a 6.


Read by – Dundas Readers