March Picks

Roz’s has been reading:

Thomas, Rosie (2010) Lovers and Newcomers. Harper Collins. They were wild in the 60s; but now they face turning sixty themselves. Miranda decides a lonely widowhood is not for her. Reviving a university dream, she invites five old friends to live with her. To begin with the omens are good, but they discover you can’t wind back time when the outside world intrudes on their idyllic retreat.  Quite a nice story.  Rating 8/10

White, Michael C (2010) Beautiful Assassin. Quercus. The one-time beautiful assassin, Tat’yana Levchenko tells her story to young journalist Elizabeth. During the Second World War, Tat’yana was Russia’s secret weapon sent to America to secure support and information for the Russian war effort. Tat’yana becomes a pawn in a battle for information.  A heartrending story of war, betrayal, and intrigue. Rating 8/10

Jan’s been reading:

Gruen, Sara (2004) Riding Lessons. Harper.  An interest in Sara Gruen was sparked  by reading Water for Elephants. An early novel set on a New Hampshire horse farm. Annemarie Zimmer, former world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, now jobless and abandoned returns home to deal with all the unresolved ghosts of her youth.  Action and drama packed.  Rating: 8/10

Julie’s been reading:

Stead, CK (2010) South-West of Eden; a memoir 1932-1956. AUP. A coming-of-age memoir – running wild in Cornwall Park, joining the Labour Party aged seven, discovering poetry in a third-form English class and enjoying a newly married annus mirabilis in a flat on Takapuna Beach down the road from Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame.  ‘Most things of real significance in my life and the life of my family had happened somewhere in sight from the summit of Mt Eden’.  Loved it, gossipy -full of tittle-tattle. Rating 8/10

Hansen, Derek (2007) Remember Me. Narrated by a 12 year old boy of English parentage whose family is struggling to come to terms with living in New Zealand. When he writes an essay for school titled “The Burden of Responsibility” he inadvertently uncovers a wartime secret, and unleashes a chain of events that pitches friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour.  Fascinating step back into the nostalgia of post-war Auckland. Rating: 8/10

Trollope, Joanna (2009) Friday nights.  Transworld. (ebook) Eleanor knew retirement would be quiet, but she never expected it to be quite so lonely. Unmarried and childless by choice, Eleanor always put her career first. Now, living alone in the same small house in Fulham, Eleanor resolutely reaches out to two single mothers in her neighborhood. She invites the young women and their sons over one Friday night, and the small get-togethers expand rapidly.  The story of community and the company of women. But things never stay the same forever, especially when a man is introduced into the mix. Rating 8/10

Tremain, Rose (2010) Trespass.  Norton. (ebook) In a silent valley in southern France stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Aramon, the owner, is so haunted by his violent past that he’s become incapable of all meaningful action, letting his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin. Meanwhile, his sister Audrun, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life. Into this closed world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London. When he sets his sights on the Mas, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences are set in motion. Meaty, good bit of writing. Rating 9.5/10

Raewyn’s been reading:

Ralph, Anna (2009) Before I knew him. Arrow. Leo Fisch is a young man with a brilliant future ahead of him. He is bright, sociable and on the verge of moving in with his beautiful girlfriend, Kathryn. Outwardly, at least, he seems happy. Then when a sinister discovery is made in a forest near Leo’s home town, a figure from childhood re-enters his life. David Caldwell is tough and aggressive; the very opposite of the company Leo now keeps. Unlikely friends, they are bound by a shared summer – and a shared secret – they had promised to forget. As past and present begin to close in, the comfortable life Leo has created for himself starts to unravel. Dark and sinister. Pervaded by a sense of bleakness but you need to keep on reading  Rating 7.5/10

Penny, Louise (2011) Bury your dead.  Sphere. As Quebec City shivers in the grip of winter, its ancient stone walls cracking in the cold, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache plunges into the most unusual case of his celebrated career. A man has been brutally murdered in one of the city’s oldest buildings – a library where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their history. The death opens a door into the past, exposing a mystery that has lain dormant for centuries… a mystery Gamache must solve if he’s to apprehend a present-day killer. Made the history of Quebec come alive,  Satisfactory, if a bit confusing at times.  Rating 8/10

Debbie’s been reading:

Junger, Ernst (2004) Storm of Steel, translated by Michael Hoffman. Penguin.  A powerful memoir,  it illuminates  the horrors but also the fascination of total war, presenting the conflict through the eyes of an ordinary German soldier. An account of the terrors of the Western Front during WWI and of the sickening allure that made men keep fighting on for four long years. Fascinating to read history from a German perspective.  Vivid descriptions of trench warfare and the beauty of the French countryside.  Beautifully written.  Rating: 8/10

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