October Picks

Carol’s been reading:

Patrick, Jenny (2012) Skylark. Black Swan.  A love story set amid real figures from nineteenth-century theatre.  Lily Alouette was singing and dancing almost as soon as she could walk. When she is left an orphan in an unfamiliar country after her parents have emigrated to the goldfields, it is performing in a circus that offers survival. Later she takes to the stage in both Australia and New Zealand, where she attracts the attention of two men. One is the faithful Jack Lacey; the other is the renowned pirate Bully Hayes. While Jack has to compete with both Bully and the theatre to win Lily’s attention, Lily finds she must share Jack too. Heart-warming, although grim in parts.  Loved it.  Rating: 8.5/10.

Raewyn’s been reading:

Boukhobza, Chochana (2012 ) The Third Day. MacLehose Press.  This novel is a story of two cellists, one who had spent time in a concentration camp, and the other her protegee from Israel. The older cellist experienced torture and was experimented on while in camp and her music literally saved her life. The two cellists meet in Jerusalem to perform in a concert, their first as soloists. Both currently live in America and their time in Jerusalem allows them to catch up with old friends and family as well as settle old scores. Translated from French which makes the writing at times seem a little stilted, however this is offset by the excellent characterisation and storyline. A worthwhile read. Rating: 8/10.

McDonnell, Adrienne (2011) The Doctor and the Diva.  Sphere. In 1903 Boston Dr Ravell a young obstetrician has gained a reputation for helping couples conceive.  He is flattered when a family of illustrious physicians turns to him to treat one of its own members. Erika von Kessler is a beautiful and ambitious opera singer who has struggled for years to become pregnant. His treatments prove ineffectual, but as his attraction for Erika grows he takes a great risk that may imperil his career.  It is a decision that will change both their destinies. A love story set across multiple locations from snowy Boston, an island in the Caribbean, to the opera stages of Italy.  Not entirely satisfactory; tried too hard to blend fiction and non-fiction. Rating: 7.5/10.

Jan’s been reading:

Gregory, Philippa (2012) The Kingmaker’s Daughter.  Simon & Schuster.  Anne Neville, daughter of  the powerful Warwick the Kingmaker, and wife of Richard III, lives her life on fortune’s wheel.  A chess piece in the game of power in the Plantagenet Cousins’ War she lives her life in fear, enmity, and superstition.  You cannot warm to Gregory’s character, but a great tale of this period in history all the same.  Rating: 8/10.

Lynne’s been reading:

Webster, Jane (2008) At My French Table; food, family and joie de vivre in a corner of Normandy. Viking.  In 2005  Jane Webster sold her house in Melbourne and took her four children out of school and moved to  France. She had been running her business The French Table, which specialized in foodie tours around Paris, for nearly 10 years, but she was looking for a more permanent base to set up a cookery school. She finds a chateau in Normandy which  becomes home.  Jane shares all aspects of her life in France, including the restoration of her chateau and the produce of Normandy – with 40 regional recipes.  Real escape with great recipes.  Rating: 9/10.

Roz’s been reading:

Beck, Greig (2011) Beneath the dark ice.  Pan.  When a plane crashes into the Antarctic ice during a violent storm, exposing a massive cave beneath, a rescue and research team is dispatched. Twenty-four hours later, all contact is lost. Captain Alex Hunter and his crack team of highly trained commandos are fast-tracked there to find out what has gone wrong, accompanied by an assortment of researchers, including petrobiologist Aimee Weir. Within the caves lies evidence of an ancient civilization, and an unidentified  substance.  Terror from the deep. Very different read.  Rating: 8/10.

O’Brien, Tim (2009) The things they carried. Mariner Books. A classic and award-winning work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, It is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. The book is a collection of twenty-two stories, or chapters, which focus on the Alpha Company and the fate of its soldiers after they return home to America.   A gem and a surprise.  Rating: 8.5/10.

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