Setting Boundaries by Rebecca Ray

I’m not in the habit of reviewing books that I read for work, but every so often one comes along that I think is useful. My criteria for ‘useful’ is a book that’s written in a straightforward, easy to understand style; that has its basis in science (yes, there are plenty of ‘spiritual’ self-help books available but I find they’re only ‘useful’ for a small audience at a very specific time in their lives); that presents information in multiple ways (think diagrams, case studies, check-lists, and practice exercises); and is one that you might revisit.

Setting Boundaries by Rebecca Ray fits the criteria. Continue reading

Lapsed by Monica Dux

I have no religious education or upbringing (a reflection of the fact that my parents did, and as adults, they wanted none of it). Yet, as a child of the seventies, Christian traditions were an unquestioned part of the school curriculum, and as a result, we had a nativity play to finish the primary school year. In Prep, I was chosen to be Mary. I had one line; the kid playing Joseph said it, and furious, I stole his lines after that. From memory, it kind of changed the tone of things.

I refer to this story because Monica Dux opens Lapsed, her memoir about growing up Catholic, with her recollections of being given the part of Jesus in her school’s Easter play.

My selection was an honour made even greater by the fact that in the past, the coveted role of JC had always gone to a Grade Sixer, while I was in Grade Five. As a child with a strong sense of her own manifest destiny, this seemed quite unremarkable to me. Continue reading

The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar

Amani Haydar suffered the unimaginable when she lost her mother in a brutal act of domestic violence perpetrated by her father. Haydar was five months pregnant at the time, and her own perception of how she wanted to mother (and how she had been mothered) was shaped by the murder. In The Mother Wound, Haydar reflects on her parents’ marriage, her family’s history, and the social and cultural context in which she grew up.

We couldn’t call it ‘the night Mum died’ because she didn’t just drop dead. All of the available words betrayed reality.

What was most striking about this memoir, was Haydar’s clear account of her childhood, when she ‘…hadn’t yet found the language of abuse…’ but understood her parents’ relationship was bound by cultural, religious and personal complexities that she didn’t fully understand –

It is hard to spot a red flag in a man who is simply doing what everyone else is doing. Continue reading

Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

Sometimes you pick up a book, thinking that it ticks all the boxes before you’ve even started. Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey was that book for me.

Campus-lit. Tick. A story about a group of friends. Tick. A reunion (allowing lots of time for mature adults to reflect on their less-mature-selves). Tick. An author whose work I have enjoyed previously. Tick. Continue reading

The Golden Maze by Richard Fidler

Wars and alchemy and people dying because they didn’t do a wee at a feast… I’d forgotten about all the excellent gruesome detail of Medieval times until I plunged into Richard Fidler’s ‘biography of Prague’, The Golden Maze.

There were other reasons I picked up this tome –

  1. Back in the eighties, I loved the Doug Anthony Allstars (although was in constant fear I’d be roped into audience participation).
  2. My brief visit to Prague whetted the appetite, and I certainly wished for more time there.

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Fathoms by Rebecca Giggs

This review could be as big as a blue whale or as small as a krill, because I have so much to say about Fathoms, and it’s almost too much – like any book I loved, it’s impossible to know where to start and my inclination is to simply say ‘just read it’.

The subtitle of Fathoms – ‘The world in the whale’ is both literal and metaphoric. Rebecca Giggs writes of a whale found with an entire greenhouse and its paraphernalia in its stomach –

We struggle to understand the sprawl of our impact, but there it is, within one cavernous stomach: pollution, climate, animal welfare, wildness, commerce, the future, and the past. Inside the whale, the world.
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