FEBRUARY 2019 READING ROUND-UP

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Our Page Turners Book Club presented the Fairvale Ladies Book Club in its January selection, so seduced by the title I borrowed it. I have to report it had very little to do with book club matters and much to do with the anguish (and occasionally joy) of the members’ personal relationships. It slowly dawned on me that I was reading Ozzie chick-lit. The aspects I enjoyed most were the descriptions of the land and the life in Australia’s vast Northern Territory. I know, from experience, how hard and harsh life can be in the African bush, but seemingly Australia’s Top End can give us a run for our money!

 

Warlight : I hesitate to write a review about this magnificent novel, and recommend you visit Booker Talk on WordPress to read her excellent review: https://bookertalk.com/2019/02/04/warlight-by-michael-ondaatje-bookreview/:

I enjoyed the quality of the writing, and the depth of characterisation and setting; plus it was a delight to read a story with such an unusual plot, that offered unpredictability. How refreshing! A Must-Read for me.

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter was another unusual book . Set in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, it described Helena’s childhood ruled by her Indian father, who trained her in traditional hunting and survival skills, in the woods and marshes. As a youngster she loved (and feared) her father, but as puberty set in, she began to see the complexities and dissonances of their family life and ultimately she rebelled.

Helena grows into an independent, self-reliant, resilient young woman and I loved the book for giving us a strong female protagonist. I seldom re-read books, but I’d read this again. Recommended.

 

On the Non-Fiction side I was presented with a delightfully quirky little book of literary anecdotes about famous English writers and cities, towns and villages that featured in their writing and their lives. Oliver Tearle is an English lecturer at a British college and is vastly knowledgeable about Brit lit. I’ve always wanted to visit the Hay-on-Wye annual Lit Fest, and was fascinated to learn that the tiny, fading village of Hay-on-Wye in the Welsh border country was revived in 1962 by Richard Booth, who opened a bookstore dedicated to old, obscure books. Six years later his store was flourishing. Then in 1988 Peter and Norman Florence launched the Lit Fest with the winnings of a poker game. And the rest, as they say, is history. How about that?

 

FICTION
Warlight – Michael Ondaatjie. A wonderful read. Not to be missed. Story set in post-war London. Apart from the quality writing, the unpredictability of the plot was refreshing.

The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green. Chick-lit with an Australian Northern Territories setting. An easy read.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth – William Boyd . Short stories at their best – witty, entertaining and a pleasure to read.
The Marsh King’s Daughter – Karen Dionne. Dances with Wolves combines with a psychological thriller. Original, absorbing, and unputdownable!

Harry Mac – Russell Eldridge . The 1970s in South Africa, the birth of the apartheid regime, through the eyes of a curious ten year old boy, Harry Mac’s son Tom. Engaging characters an absorbing read about a horrible period of SA history.

NON-FICTION
The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran – Jennifer Klinec . An insight into the Iran of the mullahs. Interesting and unusual. Not so much emphasis on the food & recipes.
Britain by the Book – Oliver Tearle. Sub-title: A Curious Tour of our Literary Landscape. Thoroughly entertaining Brit Lit trivia.

 

KINDLE SAMPLES
Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik. Grim & Slavic – not much sign of her fantasy in the sample. A No for me.
Flights – Olga Togruczk . Not for me.
Black Lamb & Grey Falcon Rebecca West. Reckoned by some to be her masterpiece, but from my perspective : boring obscure European history; dry! No thanks!

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