Xinran (2015) Buy me the Sky: The remarkable truth of China’s one-child generation. Rider. The first generation of Chinese children raised under China’s one-child policy has reached adulthood. In her interviews with young people Xinran found a generation adrift. Her observations paint a poignant portrait of one-and-onlies adjusting to independence and loneliness, cultural and political shift, western influence, and the dynamics of family, at a time of unprecedented change. Touching insights but not a rigorous study. Rating: 8/10.
Galbraith, Robert (2015) Career of Evil: A Cormoran Strike Novel. Sphere. J K Rowling writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith presents her third Cormoran Stike adventure. When his assistant Robin receives a package, containing a woman’s severed leg, Strike believes that one of four people from his past could be responsible. With the police focusing on the wrong suspect, Strike and Robin take matters into their own hands. Suspenseful, edge of the seat stuff, with a touch of human drama. Rating: 8.5/10.
Blume, Judy (2015) In the Unlikely Event. Picador. During the winter of 1951-1952, over a 58-day period, three aeroplanes fell from the sky over the historic city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, sited in the shadow of Newark Airport. Judy Blume was a teenager living on Shelley Avenue, not far from the first crash, when the tragedies occurred. She weaves fact and fiction in a haunting story of three generations, whose lives are forever changed in the aftermath. A unforgettable and moving commemoration, by a beloved US author, that draws on reports from the time and her own memories. Rating: 9/10.
Feng, Li (2015) Forged from Silver Dollar. Hachette Australia. Li Feng grew up in Mao’s China, with her mother’s mantra of ‘no failure, only success’ ringing in her ears. This was a mantra that echoed across four generations of formidable matriarchs, who through sheer determination battled adversity to change their destiny, and provide their children with a better future. Li Feng’s memoir, set in calamitous twentieth century China, is about strength and survival telling the tales of her great-grandmother Silver Dollar, grandmother Ming Xiu, mother Rong, and her own aspiration and struggles with her mothers expectations. Powerful and heart-rending. Rating: 8.5/10.
Fraser, Antonia (2015) My History: A Memoir of Growing Up. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Historical biographer Antonia Fraser (nee Pakenham) was the eldest of eight children of indifferent parents, Lord and Lady Longford. Growing up in privileged circumstances, in Britain of the 30s and 40s, we follow her through various homes and schools, are introduced to various personages of the period, and are privy to her historical imaginings. The book ends with Antonia’s marriage to Sir Hugh Fraser in 1956 and the preparation for her first full-length work of narrative history, Mary, Queen of Scots. Rarefied and distant. Disappointing. Rating 7.5/10.