Julie’s been reading:
Patchett, Ann (2011) State of Wonder. Bloomsbury. In the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women forever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness. She faces challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Wonderful language and eccentric plot. Rating: 9/10.
Jan’s been reading:
Toibin, Colm (2009). Brooklyn. Picador. Eilis Lacey lives in a small Irish Village, a loving and dutiful daughter and sister, unemployed but with a head for numbers. One day via the church she receives a job opportunity in New York. Eilis finds lodgings in an eccentric boarding house and ekes out an existence in 1950s Brooklyn, and falls in love. When it seems she is finally settling in this new land fate intervenes: a family crisis back home forces Eilis to make a choice between the past and the future. A simple, unhurried and deeply moving narrative of exile and the search for “home”. Rating: 9/10.
Walls, Jeannette (2005) The Glass Castle: a memoir. Scribner. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family. Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to a dismal West Virginia mining town – a place of last resort. An amazing memoir of adventure, resilience, tenacity and generosity against the odds. Highly recommended. Rating: 9.5/10.
Drummond, Ree (2011) The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. Morrow. “That’s when I saw him – the cowboy – across the smoky room”. So begins city-girl Ree’s unlikely romance with a chaps-wearing cowboy. This is a love story, a story that had its beginnings as a blog, where the author showcases her photography, and documents her often funny transition from city life to ranch wife. Rating: 8/10.
Roz’s been reading:
McGregor, Fiona (2010) Indelible ink. Scribe. 59-year-old
Marie King is experiencing something of an identity crisis, especially as she must now sell the family home and thus lose her beloved garden. On a folly she gets a tattoo. Marie forges a friendship with her tattoo artist, Rhys, who introduces her to an alternative side of Sydney. Marie’s two worlds collide causing great friction within Marie’s family and with her circle of rich friends. Indelible Ink is a multi-layered examination of how we live in the modern world. Quite a good read. Rating: 8/10.
Jenny’s been reading:
Parrett, Favel (2011) Past the Shallows. Hachette. Three brothers and their father fish for abalone on the wild Tasmanian coast, one of them frightened of the sea. The younger boys Harry and Miles live with their father and are largely left to look after themselves. Everyone loves Harry. Everyone except his father. Often alone, Harry finds joy in the small treasures he discovers, in shark eggs and cuttlefish bones. His embittered and hard drinking father harbours a devastating secret. Enjoyable read, although slightly disjointed at the beginning. Rating 8.5/10.