Sample Saturday – a recluse, a murder and a commune


Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claibourne Johnson

Why I have it: Because every person and their dog is reading it. And it looks exactly like the kind of ‘light’ choice I’d enjoy.

Summary: Reclusive literary legend Mimi Banning is writing her first book in decades and calls in an assistant to be a full-time companion to Frank, her eccentric nine-year-old son.

I’m thinking: Yes. Will probably be one of my only-six-book-acquisitions-for-2016 selections if the Stella Prize shortlist doesn’t suck up my book allowance.

A Murder Without Motive by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Why I have it: Because Jenny likened it to Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.

Summary: True story of the 2004 murder of a young Perth woman, Rebecca Ryle. The killing mystified investigators, and also involved the author’s family, whose brother knew the man charged with the murder.

I’m thinking: Yes – the author’s personal links to the murderer makes it gripping stuff.

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew

Why I have it: Because it’s on the Stella longlist.

Summary: Silver’s mother has fallen for a charismatic man, and the three of them move to a rural hippie commune, Hope Farm. Although settled in one place, Silver is thrust into an adult world.

I’m thinking: No. It feels too contrived. But I’ll be ‘forced’ to read it if it makes the shortlist…

3 responses

  1. But… but… the last time I liked something (The Wonder Lover) to something else (books by John Irving) you didn’t agree! I shouldn’t make such sweeping statements, and if I can clarify, it’s not of the calibre of the Garner, but the way he talks about a couple of things in life that are usually left unspoken, either in real life, non fiction or fiction, *that* was what reminded me of This House of Grief.

    Looking forward to hearing what you make of it. I haven’t read Peggy’s book but I’ve got it. I’m thinking similar things to you and also there are things that make it not compellingly attractive, but I really loved her first book. A lot. In fact, still think about it which is for me a sign of a really cherished read. If you read it, I’m interested to see what you have to say.

    • Okay, lots of thoughts. Firstly, we’ll put Wonder Lover behind us 🙂
      The thing that I really enjoyed about The Garner was how she talked about mind-numbingly boring long trials are. Her reflections on the process were interesting and I’m guessing it’s the same sort of thing with this book.
      The Frew… I read her first book and didn’t like it at all. I feel like I’m missing something with her writing because others rave. It feels contrived to me, the style doesn’t feel natural – more like Creative Writing 101 – and it also feels like (dare I say) ‘women’s fiction’ (I hate that term…). I’m prepared to be wrong about Frew but honestly, unless it’s shortlisted, I won’t read it.

      • I want to say lots of things but shan’t here, other than the crime book is not as forensic at Garner’s, and I mean forensic in terms of going deep. It was just that he looks at a couple of things that struck me as New, from the perspective of grieving parents. It’s good for that reason. Might send you a DM. 🙂

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