Gregory, Philippa (2014) The King’s Curse. Simon & Schuster. This final instalment in the Cousins’ War is the story of Margaret Pole, a Plantagenet heir and a rival to the English throne. Margaret’s destiny is to live much of her life in fear of the Tutor monarchs, firstly of Henry VII and latterly her nemesis Henry VIII. Much of Margaret’s life is spent in the limelight firstly as Arthur, Prince of Wales’, guardian, then as Queen Katherine’s chief-lady-in-waiting, and finally as Princess Mary’s governess, but with the rapid deterioration of the Tudor court her allegiances are challenged. One of the finest of the Philippa Gregory novels in its political and historical detail. Highly recommended. Rating: 9/10.
Vashti, Lorelei (2014) Dress, Memory; a memoir of my twenties in dresses. Allen & Unwin. Lorelei started collecting dresses from her late teens, and her life has been lived and documented through the dresses she has loved. This memoir covers a decade in which she falls in love, plays in a band, gets a career, travels overseas, and with each life stage is a dress in which a memory is stitched in. A story of the trials and tribulations of a young women; growing up and growing into herself. Fresh take. Rating: 7.5/10.
Dicker, Joel (2014) The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. Quercus. The day of the disappearance, 30 August 1975, sets in motion a mystery that had its denouement 33 years later. In the summer of 1975 struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen year old Nola Kellergan, and the finding of her body in 2008 makes him the prime suspect. To the rescue comes literary wunderkind, Marcus Goldman, who makes it his mission to throw off his writers block and clear his mentor’s name. This intricate page-turning whodunit takes on a life of its own; dense with suspects, shifting timelines, contradictory stories, colourful locals, and secrets and sins – nothing is what it seems. At 600+ pages this is genre masterpiece – in the words of Harry Quebert “a book you are sorry to have finished”. Rating: 9/10.
View from the road; exploring New Zealand from State Highway 1, photographs by Arno Gasteiger, text by Kennedy Warne (2014), Penguin. At 2047 kilometres long, stretching from Bluff in the south and Cape Reinga in the north, State Highway 1 is an ideal route to explore New Zealand’s diverse terrain. This nostalgic book captures people, place and landmarks along New Zealand’s most important highway and provides a brief history of this ribbon of tar. Stirs the desires to journey this beautiful country of ours. Rating: 8/10.
Straub, Emma (2014) The Vacationers. Picador. The two-week trip to the island of Mallorca by Franny’s extended family has been months in the planning. But, even Franny’s best laid plans can go astray. Instead a bit of of rest and relaxation, culture and cuisine, one by one the family’s secrets are exposed – Franny’s 60-year-old husband was fired for having sex with an intern, her hot-shot son is up to his pecs in unsold muscle powder and debt, and her sensible daughter has drawn up a list of things to do before college. Satisfying and fun. Perfectly observed. Rating: 8.5/10.