September Picks


Barb’s been reading:

Davies, Glyn & Kirstin Kennedy (2009) Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions. V&A Publishing.  This beautiful book accompanies the re-opening of the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries. Presented thematically, it explores the social contexts responsible for some of the museum’s most captivating objects, both commonplace and precious, to recover the attitudes of makers and owners towards artistic practice. Rating: 8.5/10

Graham-Dixon, Andrew (2010) Caravaggio: a life sacred and profane. Penguin.  Andrew Graham-Dixon is a leading art critic, writer, author and regular presenter on art for the BBC radio and television.  This book is based on a decade of research piecing together the evidence of Caravaggio’s life and work in Counter-Reformation Italy. In the course of this life, Caravaggio created the most dramatic paintings of his age, using ordinary men and women to model for his depictions of classic religious scenes.   Rating: 8/10

Howard, Elizabeth Jane (2008) Love all. Macmillan.   The parents of Mary and Thomas left their children to be brought up by an aunt when they moved to Kenya, where they were killed in a car crash. Self-made millionaire Jack Curtis was brought up by foster parents. Francis is estranged from his father. During the course of this novel, all these characters make bids for each other’s affections. However, as the title of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel cleverly suggests, even when love is everywhere, it can still be a game with no score. About love, not only the romantic sort, but the kind that binds families. Set in the 60s.  Old fashioned. Rating: 2/10

Jan’s been reading:

Hurstvedt, Siri (2003) What I loved. Sceptre.  Leo is an art critic with a seemingly comfortable life in New York. His best friend is the experimental artist, Bill, and with their wives and sons, they have a cozy life sharing the same Soho loft building and summer homes. As their careers navigate the trendy and rarefied art world, reality invades their personal lives. The story covers 25 years of Leo’s life and is told in retrospect. Dense, clever and sinister.  Rating: 7/10

Robinson, Jane (2009) Bluestockings: The remarkable story of the first women to fight for an education. Penguin. The prospect of further education for women was very alarming to Victorians of both sexes.  Queen Victoria saw it as part of the “mad wicked folly of women’s rights”.  The prejudice of centuries was broken down in 70 years but it was a hard fight.  As a British social history this book does well in finding the incidental anecdotes, through historical records and letters, to tell of the complexities of women’s progress towards educational equality. Rating: 7/10

Gregory, Philippa (2010) The Red Queen.  Simon & Schuster. The second novel in Gregory’s series about the women of the York and Lancaster dynasties, during the time of the War of the Roses.   The story of Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII.  Rating: 8.5/10

Raewyn’s been reading:

Tropper, Jonathan (2009) This is where I leave you.  Penguin.  Judd Foxman is dumped when his wife leaves him for his boss after he catches them between the sheets. What is particularly affecting here is that unlike your typical literary guy, who bounds from woman to woman without a thought, Judd can’t bounce back. He obsesses about Jen, his ex. He can’t figure out where everything went so wrong.  Funny, emotional and raw.  Raewyn has read all of Jonathan Tropper’s books and highly recommends. Rating: 9/10

Carol has been reading:

Marshall, Owen (2010) Living as a Moon. Vintage.  This new collection of stories from master short fiction writer Owen Marshall is rich with people exploring their identities and the way in which they are affected by others. Set in both Europe and the Antipodes, these twenty-five stories are at once arresting, moving, funny and full of insight into the human condition. Shortlisted for New Zealand Post Book Awards: Fiction 2010. Outstanding.  Rating: 8.5/10

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