In choosing fiction, my preference is for narratives driven by emotion rather than action – I want to be in a character’s head and to know what they are feeling, as opposed to being a bystander, ‘watching’ what happens to them.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore is very much an action-driven story. It tells of two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, whose lives begin in the same troubled home but then take very different paths . Kacey lives on the streets of Kensington, Philadelphia, addicted to heroin, and doing what she has to do to feed her habit. Mickey also knows the streets of Kensington but that’s because she joined the police force. Although the sisters are estranged, Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey. When a string of unsolved murders occur – the victims all young women with drug habits – Mickey fears for her sister. Continue reading →
I have a poor track record when it comes to reading thrillers. Mostly because they’re simply not thrilling – I either spend time guessing what has happened and then watching it unfold (The Girl on the Train) or thinking “This is just far-fetched stupidity” (Gone Girl). So how did the bestseller, The Wife Between Us, hold up? Very, very well. Continue reading →
The Chamberlain case was the background to my entire childhood. Outside, we had smiling Safety House signs screwed to each letterbox in the street. Every house safe. Every house a refuge. While inside, the court case of a mother alleged to have murdered her child played out each night, in prime time, in the lounge room.
Yes, this is my memory too. And that adults all had an opinion about Lindy Chamberlain. However, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean is not an account of the Chamberlain case. Instead, the case provides an interesting parallel to the fictitious part of this book – the disappearance of the three Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth. Continue reading →
I’m not sure why A Common Loss by Kirsten Tranter ended up on the top of my reading stack. My book group read Tranter’s first book, The Legacy, and whilst they were enthusiastic about it, I was less so. I found The Legacy all a little too obvious, a bit strained, characters lacking true feeling. But in the spirit of giving authors a decent go, especially Australian authors, I picked up A Common Loss.
First off, I should mention that I read the book on my Kindle, some months after a I had actually downloaded it. When I started reading, I had forgotten what the story was about (you don’t have easy access to a jacket blurb on a Kindle – this can be a good or a bad thing!). It’s essentially the story of five college friends, who reunite every year in Las Vegas. However one year they are only four – charismatic Dylan, the mediator, the man each one turned to in a time of crisis is tragically killed. The four remaining friends, sharing their ‘common loss’, meet in Vegas and question who their friend Dylan really was.
I note not revisiting the story blurb before I started the book because I was at least a chapter or two in before I realised that the narrator is a male character, Elliot. Up until that point I assumed the narrator was a female (probably because of the opening scene where an account of moving a dead deer off a road is described with many observations about physical appearances and lack of strength). Whether the narrator is male or female doesn’t really matter but when I realised my error, I had flashbacks to The Legacy, with its unconvincing characters. Were we headed down the same path? Continue reading →