September Picks

Roz’s been reading:

Waal, Edmund (2011) The Hare with the amber eyes.  Vintage.  Edmund inherited 264 Japanese wood and ivory carvings (netsuke) from his great uncle, and they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined… The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world. Charles Ephrussi’s passion was collecting netsuke.  Later, three children would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection. An original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. A wonderful book, thought-provoking, clever and well-crafted.  Rating: 10/10.

Marshall, Owen (2011) The Lanarchs.  Vintage NZ. William James Mudie Larnach’s name resonates in New Zealand history – the politician and self-made man who built the famous ‘castle’ on Otago Peninsula. In 1891, after the death of his first two wives, he married the much younger Constance de Bathe Brandon. But the marriage that began with such happiness was to end in tragedy. The story of the growing relationship between Conny and William’s younger son, Dougie, lies at the heart of Owen Marshall’s subtle and compelling new novel. Interesting read. Rating: 8/10.

Campion, Alexander (2010) The Grave Gourmet. Kensington.  Capucine LeTellier is a Parisian detective specializing in white-collar crime, but longing for grittier work. She gets her wish when assigned to a high-profile case involving an automotive exec found murdered in the kitchen of a famed restaurant. Assigned to work with a trio of comical detectives, Capucine also enlists the aid of her food critic husband Alexandre and her inappropriately flirtatious cousin (and government agent) Jacques in cracking the case. Different, good read.  Rating: 8/10.

Jan’s been reading:

Winman, Sarah (2011)  When God was a Rabbit.  Headline. A debut coming-of-age novel that spans four decades, from 1968 London to idyllic Cornwall and places beyond.  This is the story of Elly and her vibrant but flawed family; loss of innocence, familial ties and friendships, and the series of ordinary and extraordinary incidents that shape their everyday lives.  The title sets the tone for this often  eccentric and unpredictable tale.  Couldn’t totally engage with it.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Jan Mc’s been reading:

Jarvis, Cheryl (2008) The Necklace.  Random.  One day a woman of average means spots in a jewellery shop window a GBP20,000 diamond necklace. She can’t get it out of her head. Eventually she gets the idea of sharing it with friends, persuading them to put in a grand each to buy the necklace. This is the true story of 13 ordinary women, and one extraordinary adventure.  Great read.  Rating: 8/10.

Raewyn’s been reading:

Mapson, Jo-Ann (2010) Solomon’s Oak.  Bloomsbury.  Glory Solomon, a young widow, is using the chapel her husband built on their central California farm, under a 200-year-old white oak tree, as a place to hold unusual weddings. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire arrives on Glory’s doorstep angry and homeless.  Well written story of the healing of troubled characters.   Rating: 8.5/10.

Carol’s been reading:

The best of New Zealand Geographic (2009) Bateman.  For 20 years, New Zealand Geographic magazine has captured New Zealand in words and pictures,  to produce a record of our environment and society.  The book offers a sample of stories and stunning imagery from this award-winning magazine.  Factual and beautiful.  Rating: 9/10.

Cath’s been reading:

Bell, Leonard (2011) Marti Friedlander. Auckland University Press. Acclaimed photographer Marti Friedlander has been observing the lives of New Zealanders for over 50 years. This beautiful book is a record of places, events and personalities of “our” time. From Maori moko to Whina Cooper and the land march, from Rita Angus to Margaret Mahy, to protests and street scenes, her empathetic scrutiny draws out the essence of her subjects. Fascinating collection. Rating: 10/10.

Lynne’s been reading:

Egan, Jennifer (2011) A visit from the Goon Squad.  Random. Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Jennifer Egan  reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. Winner of 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Cool modern novel, with a powerpoint presentation!  Rating: 8.5/10.

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