Gilbert, Elizabeth (2015) Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear. Riverhead Books. This is a book of empowerment and inspiration. Drawing on her own generative writing experience Elizabeth Gilbert shares her wisdom and unique take on creativity. This empathetic guide provides us with lessons on how to unleash creativity and lead a creative life under big chapter headings – Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, Divinity. Motivational – going to buy my own copy. Rating: 8.5/10.
Sittenfeld, Curtis (2016) Eligible. Harper Collins. In this fourth book in Harper Collins’ Austen Project Sittenfeld transplants Jane Austen’s much-loved Pride and Prejudice characters to 21st century Cincinnati. This rather inane retelling sees Bingley as a reality show Bachelor and Jane as a 39 year old yoga instructor, with Darcy and Elizabeth restraining the levity as people with serious jobs but with major character flaws. The romance and confrontations between Elizabeth and Darcy are missing. It is no longer a story of manners but a rather tedious book about unlikable and unrecognisable personalities. Dull. Rating: 7/10.
Rothschild, Hannah (2015) The Improbability of Love. Bloomsbury. Annie McDee searching for a gift for her lover comes across a painting in a second-hand shop. She has stumbled across a lost Watteau masterpiece and soon she is pursued by a host of interested parties from the art world who will do anything to possess her picture. In searching for the painting’s identity she uncovers its dark history. Told from the perspective of Annie, the ambitious potential owners, and the painting itself, this tale is sad, funny and satirical. Rating: 8/10.
De Kretser, Michelle (2o14) Springtime: A ghost story. Catapult. This short work tells the story of Frances and how she is ‘haunted’ by her move to Sydney with her new partner Charlie. The unknowability of Charlie’s previous life and the alien sub-tropical exotic environment tips Frances’ world on it axis, and when she walks her dog she thinks she sees a mysterious woman in old-fashioned garb in a leafy garden. A beguiling and different kind of ghost story. Rating: 8/10.
Walker, Fiona (2016) The Weekends of You and Me. Sphere. When Jo meets Harry the connection is electric. Jo had intended to embrace life as a singleton but passionate and unpredictable Harry introduces her to Morrow, his hideaway in the wilds of Shropshire. Harry and Jo return to the cottage for one weekend each year to rediscover each other, but as career, family and home life intrude the promise comes under threat. Romantic romp with lots of fun and heart. Rating: 8/10.
Andrew, Sally (2015) Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery. Ecco. Debut novel in what promises to be a series of crime stories set in rural South Africa. Tannie Maria is a middle-aged Afrikaans widow with culinary talents who works as an love advice and recipe columnist for a local paper. She has a talent for helping others and when one of her correspondents is murdered she becomes dangerously caught up in the investigation. Full of humour, romance, recipes and colourful characters, very much in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency genre. Ponderous but a bit of fun. Rating: 7.5/10.