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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The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J. Murray

Every so often I read a book that was a hit for others and a total miss for me. Such was the case with The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J. Murray. And I do want to stress the ‘hit for others‘ part because some of my blogging friends adored this book.

The book is about an unnamed writer, employed by a wealthy family, to write a monograph about their mother, artist Edna Cranmer. Edna was not known for her work in her lifetime, however her daughter is intent on changing that, by having her paintings of the  landscape, Australian’s at war, and intimate portraits recognised. As the biographer delves deeper into Edna’s life, she discovers seccrets that some family members have worked hard to keep hidden. Continue reading

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

I really, really wish Victoria Hannan hadn’t started Kokomo with a sex scene. The tone of the scene is not representative of the remaining 294 pages, which are insightful, subtle, and wonderfully atmospheric.

On the other hand, maybe that sex scene is exactly representative of the book – that all is not as it appears. The book takes it’s name from the Beach Boys song. Apt, because while we think Kokomo is a song about a tropical island paradise, it is in fact “…not even a real place … Well, it is, but it’s an industrial city in Indiana…” And like the song, the characters in Hannan’s novel appear one way, but their inner lives reveal something quite different – full of complexities, insecurities, desires. Continue reading

Unseen by Jacinta Parsons

Illness is like a natural disaster. In that way, it is simple, because you have little choice but to accept it.

Through my work, I am in contact with many people living with, or caring for others with chronic illness. COVID presents an interesting situation for these people – on one hand, they are under increased pressure because regular support services have stopped or are reduced, and with that comes isolation. On the other, many have told me that now ‘everyone’ is experiencing what they live with every single day – a sense of isolation, having to plan every outing, and being fearful for their health.

Jacinta Parsons’s memoir, Unseen, chronicles her experience with chronic illness. It was published last year, in the middle of the pandemic, and she refers to the ‘groundhog day’ elements of COVID and chronic illness – Continue reading

The Loudness of Unsaid Things by Hilde Hinton

Child characters with troubled attachments? Sign me up.

The Loudness of Unsaid Things by Hilde Hinton won me from the very beginning. We meet seven-year-old Susie, who lives with her dad in Melbourne. Her mum lives in the ‘mind hospital’, where Susie visits her on weekends.

All the times her father had picked her up and … told him that she had a nice visit, even when it wasn’t nice. Because it made it easier for her. It meant she didn’t have to talk about how hard it could be in there. How character building. Continue reading