Alison’s Picks – December


Seeing George by Cassandra Austin.  As a young woman, Violet met a man named George – except that he didn’t look like a man. He looked exactly like a dragon. And nobody but her saw him as a dragon. Her beloved husband Frank, some decades later, gives her an ultimatum: stop seeing George. She has advanced cancer, and doesn’t want to stop seeing him, can’t stop seeing him that way. What can she do? This is an intriguing novel playing with the idea of our perceptions, and whether a moral value is to be attached to them.


The Blue Guitar by John Banville. I am listening to a Talking Book rendition of this one. It’s a monologue, brilliantly and theatrically narrated by Irish Gerry O’Brien. Listen to it if only for his voice!  The central character is Oliver Orme, who introduces himself to us as a former painter, and a thief. His life is in ruins; his marriage has ended, his daughter dead; he has embarked on an affair with his best friend’s wife (rarely a good idea) and is hiding from the world. Pieces of his life-jigsaw fall out as the monologue proceeds, and I am still waiting to see where Banville will take me. Terrific writing , in a minor key.


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What Library Staff are Reading – November

Monk in White, Seated, Reading – Corot

Wake in fright by Kenneth Cook  – It was for my book group.  I found it predictable, a ‘coming of age’ story, but I have to say the writing is good.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I’ve also listened to a number of M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin which are entertaining but of no great literary merit.  If you want a light hearted read these are for you.

Complicit by Nikki French, eAudiobook on RB digital (also available in AF – print format) – crime novel that keeps you guessing not only about who did it, but what exactly happened in the first place. The chapters alternate between “Before” and “After” a death, giving different perspectives on what may have happened and why. The narrator on the eAudiobook is a little irritating – all the male characters sounded quite similar to me (and none particularly believable as men) – but, setting aside that minor irritation, I enjoyed listening. 3/5 stars

The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater (audio book) – Loved it, very interesting. Set in Estonia (1941) during Stalin’s rule. I don’t know how those people survived the brutality of Russians and Germans at that time was amazing I felt warm and safe listening to it in comfort. 5/5 stars

Sitting down to watch a film which is based on a loved book is usually a perilous endeavour. Will the film be as good as the book? Will the film ruin the book? Will the characters look and sound as you expect? Can a novel turned film ever be both a loved book and a loved film? And if you really love a film, will you necessarily love the book on which it is based?

For me, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society seems to be that rare beast that succeeds both as loved book and loved film. If you haven’t read Mary Ann Schaffer’s novel, then do so immediately … and if you loved the book but are wary of the film, take courage and watch the dvd. With the story switching between German-occupied Guernsey and post-WWII Guernsey, and with a cast of endearing characters, both the film and book are charming and engaging. 5/5 stars for both book and film.

The Snowman with Michael Fassbender (DVD), from the book by Jo Nesbo – love the Scandi stories. Again felt safe within my own walls watching this so many twists in the story but totally enjoyable and will keep you guessing until the end.  4/5 stars

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish – it’s a detailed and fascinating story of a young woman scribe in the Jewish community in England around the time of the Plague (1660’s) intertwined with the story of an academic in London towards the end of her career in the 2000’s. It is a very rich portrait of these women, their lives, and loves. The sense of place in the London of the 1600’s is very lush and tangible. 3/5 stars

The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood –  is a return to the bread baking and detecting life of Corinna Chapman, set in modern day Melbourne. You get a great sense of the time and place and characters in the same way as her Phrynne Fisher novels are very evocative of 1920’s Melbourne, and Corinna is a great character. A good quality fun and light read. 3/5 stars

The Golden Age by Joan London – her third novel. I picked this up accidentally and was well rewarded. London is a contemporary Western Australian writer, and again I was struck by how well she creates a rich picture of Perth in the 1950’s in this novel. (Clearly I like a writer who can immerse me in the world she is creating in.) The story revolves around two young people recovering in a polio hospital for children. The hospital is based on a real place in Perth that was called The Golden Age! The novel is much more than just that though, encompassing issues of refugees and belonging, war, love and relationships, and creativity. 4/5 stars

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith – excellent and will keep you guessing and very hard to put down. 5/5 stars

The Break by Marian Keyes – Oh boy …. Does this book open a whole can of worms with regards to relationships.  I haven’t finished it yet but am loving the characters and the thought-provoking idea of having a mid-marriage “gap year” (although in the book it is only 6 months). 4/5 stars

For more information

Red dog  by Louis de Bernieres – a lovely (except for the sad ending – spoiler alert!), quick, easy read.  3¾ out of 5 stars

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee. I give it  4/5 stars.

I also (tried to) read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and gave up after forcing myself to persist for 100 pages. I’d give it ½/5 stars.

The King’s witch by Tracy Borman – I was attracted to this because it is about a woman accused of being a witch in the reign of James VI of Scotland once he has travelled down to London to become James I of England.  The heroine, Frances Gorges, is based on a real character whose mother was a close friend of Queen Elizabeth I.  Frances is taught about herbs and healing as a girl and this brings her into conflict with the king when she comes to court as lady in waiting to his daughter, Princess Elizabeth.  James VI & I famously wrote a book against witches and instigated witch hunts in Scotland and England. The time is 1605 and the gunpowder plot is underway and Frances gets herself caught up with one of the conspirators.  Tracy Borman is an excellent historian turned novelist so one can be fairly confident of historical accuracy but the romance aspect of this book didn’t appeal to me and I’m giving it 3/5 stars.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – it was hard to read this without the David Suchet version playing in my head (I am not a fan of the more recent version with Johnny Depp et al).  I knew the ending but the journey was still fun.  I always miss all the clues Agatha Christie gives along the way, but enjoy her novels as a light, easy break from the everyday. 3½/5 stars

In a house of lies by Ian Rankin – the latest in the long-running Rebus series.  Rebus has been retired for some time now. He spent a while in the cold case team but has retired for good (or has he).  While much older, out of breath and dragging a dog about, Rebus isn’t sitting by the fireside to enjoy a quiet retirement. He just can’t keep out of Siobahns case, where he is joined by his old nemesis, Malcolm Fox.  A taut, twisting crime novel as always from Rankin – 4/5 stars

Edward’s Menagerie Dogs by Kerry Lord – 50 canine crochet patterns, beautifully illustrated. Using a basic pattern crocheters can make three different sizes of 50 different breeds of dog.  Patterns are for both beginners with patterns suitable for those coming to crochet for the first time, and some for advanced crocheters and which follow on from the beginners patterns. Find out more by Googling #edsdogs and/or #edsanimals.  I am going to be dropping some very broad hints for my family for my Christmas. 5/5 stars

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again


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Librarians’ Choice – November

  1. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow  (junior fiction) by Jessica Townsend

Return to the magical world of Nevermoor, where Morrigan Crow’s adventures continue. The most anticipated sequel of the year – a treat for all fans of magic. Morrigan may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun.

  1. Mutiny on the Bounty (non fiction) by Peter FitzSimons
  2. Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly
  3. The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh
  4. The Fragments by Toni Jordan
  5. Preservation by Jock Serong
  6. Two Old Men Dying by Tom Keneally
  7. Where The River Runs by Fleur McDonald
  8. Suitcase of Dreams by Tania Blanchard
  9. The Invitation by Belinda Alexandra


source: Librarian’s Choice



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Alison’s Picks – November



A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski. Those of us who read fiction know that a thoughtful novel can illuminate our own lives in gratifying ways. In this recent novel by Byrski, four women from different backgrounds gather at a house in the Blue Mountains to spend some weeks together. They are actually an online book club of four, and this is the first time they’ve met in a physical sense. Each one brings her own set of circumstances, and change and adaptation are inevitable as they settle in to get to know one another. Each one has been asked to bring four copies of a favourite book, for discussion. I love this device of Byrski’s, just as I always appreciate the perspective she brings to the lives of women.


Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser.  And so I have travelled, with Laura and Ravi and a motley collection of Others, down the years in this country from the mid-Sixties to the present. The breadth of de Kretser’s reach is impressive. She is one of those writers whose canvas must be huge, to encompass the ideas she has about how human lives are lived. There is whip-smart satire when she shines her light on Australian culture through this forty-year period. Her prose is completely beguiling, with its poetic density, its multi-layered references and its mordant wit. Not all fun and frolic though. Plenty of darkness, too.




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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – November

Best Read: Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

The Girl of Sugar Beach is about to become the most watched documentary in television history. The ten-part true-crime serial centers on the burning question: did Grace Sebold really murder her boyfriend, or is she the victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice? For Grace has spent the last ten years in prison, and now she’s reaching out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a final, desperate attempt to prove her innocence. As the first episodes go to air, exposing startling new evidence and additional suspects, the series quickly becomes a ratings smash – and Sidney a celebrity in her own right. Yet by delving deeper into Grace’s past, Sidney is uncovering layer after layer of deception. And as she edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.

Crime: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

In the newest psychological thriller from the author of I Let You Go and I See You, Clare Mackintosh brings us a story about how those who love us never really leave us… Two years ago, Tom and Caroline Johnson committed suicide, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their adult daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unable to comprehend why they chose to end their lives. Now with a young baby herself, she feels her mother’s presence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as Anna digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her. She soon learns that nothing is as it seemed.

Australian Author: The Juliet Code by Christine Wells

It’s 1947 and the war is over, but Juliet Barnard is still tormented by secrets. She was a British agent and wireless operator in occupied Paris until her mission went critically wrong. Juliet was caught by the Germans, imprisoned and tortured in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch. Now that she’s home, Juliet can’t – or won’t – relive the horrors that occurred in that place. Nor will she speak about Sturmbannführer Strasser, the man who held her captive… Haunted by the guilt of betrayal, the last thing Juliet wants is to return to Paris. But when Mac, an SAS officer turned Nazi-hunter, demands her help searching for his sister, Denise, she can’t refuse. Denise and Juliet trained together before being dropped behind enemy lines. Unlike Juliet, Denise never made it home. Certain Strasser is the key to discovering what happened to his sister, Mac is determined to find answers – but will the truth destroy Juliet?

General: The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson

We all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmall has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a strangerarrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple. Everyone is suspicious of this stranger except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart. In a devastating love story full of intrigue and dark secrets we find that it is those who are closest to us that can sometimes pose the biggest threat of all.

Thriller: Bring Me Back by B.A.Paris

12 years ago Finn’s girlfriend disappeared. He told the police the truth about that night, just not quite the whole truth. Now Finn has moved on. But his past won’t stay buried.

Thriller: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

Saga/Romance: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets? Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

eAudio Book:

Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

The riveting follow-up to The Dark Lake, acclaimed debut novel and international bestseller.Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone in the city, broken-hearted by the decisions she’s had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and the partner she has been assigned is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can’t help feeling a connection with the victim and the lonely and isolated life he led despite being in the middle of a bustling city.

Then a movie star is killed in bizarre circumstances on the set of a major film shoot, and Gemma and her partner Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor’s life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime and who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, she soon discovers – and none of them can be trusted. But it’s when Gemma realises that she also can’t trust the people closest to her that her world starts closing in …


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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library
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What Library Staff are Reading – October

Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies by Kitty Flanagan – I listened to the eAudiobook on Borrow Box; the Library also has several copies in print – there is a waiting list. Australian comedian Kitty Flanagan’s entertaining memoir includes stories from her Sydney childhood, travel both in Australia and overseas, family, relationships and career. The audiobook, narrated by Flanagan herself, runs for just over 5 hours – perfect entertainment for a long drive (for adult listeners).

Day of the Dead by Nicci French – I have listened to the eaudiobook on RBDigital – but the Library also has the book in print. Day of the Dead is the eighth instalment in the Frieda Klein series by writing duo Sean French and Nicci Gerrard who publish under the pseudonym Nicci French. Set in London,  Day of the Dead  is well-written, tense and thrilling to the very end. This crime novel is best read as part of the Frieda Klein series, but is still enjoyable even if you have not encountered the character of psychotherapist Frieda Klein before. 4/5 stars

I am, I am, I am: seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O’Farrell – this is a memoir with a difference, or more than one difference.  Not only is the story told not chronologically, it is told by body parts and each part of the story is the story of how Ms O’Farrell has, as the subtitle indicates, narrowly eluded Death.  I read this after listening to an episode of A Good Read, a BBC Radio 4 programme where Harriet Gilbert and two guests choose a book each and come together to discuss them, and it’s really well written.

I loved it, hated being made to do other stuff and couldn’t wait to get back to find out what disaster struck next.  5/5 stars

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood – apparently a classic, this book was chosen by someone else for book group.  I had to force myself to read for 30 minutes a night for a week and only got 60% of the way in. I didn’t get the point of the story in this book at all and in the end didn’t care. 2/5 stars.

A month of Sundays by Liz Byrski – Members of an online book group for over 10 years, Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone are the only ones left.  They have never met face to face until they have the opportunity to stay for a month in a house in the Blue Mountains of NSW.  Each member is asked to choose a book that will teach the others more about herself and they take it in turns to lead the weekly discussion over the month.  The women are all in their later years, either retired or on the cusp thereof and they all have their different backgrounds, stories, secrets and insecurities.  The books chosen allow each character to reveal more of her story to the others and to the reader.  This is not my usual fare. As a member of two book groups, both of over ten years standing, I was seduced by the fact that it’s about a book group. I swithered between being compelled to find out what was going to happen to one character and being annoyed by the inevitability of the storyline of another. I rate this book 3/5 stars.

The killing of Louisa by Janet Lee – Based on a real person, this is the story of Louisa Collins who went on trial for the murder of her husband, Michael Collins in 1888.  Unfortunately for Louisa, Michael was her second husband. Her first husband, Charles Andrews, had died rather conveniently some thought after she became attracted to her then boarder, Michael Collins.  The story is told as Louisa awaits her fate in Darlinghurst Gaol and has the same claustrophobic atmosphere as See what I have done by Sarah Schmidt, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. It’s a tragic story, compellingly told.  Louisa is sentence to hang and, with Louisa being certain they would never hang a woman, the suspense is maintained all the way to the last full stop. You can read a bit more about Louisa and the case in this Guardian review:  4/5 stars

Edinburgh: a traveller’s guide edited by David Daiches – this book presents extracts of descriptions of Edinburgh from letters, memoirs, diaries, histories, biographies and novels from its earliest days on.  As a former resident and lover of Auld Reekie, the extracts are fascinating and I enjoyed reading the city’s history and characters.  However, the book is a very modest little paperback without illustrations and I feel an opportunity has been missed thereby. It would be a wonderful book to pour over if it was bigger and contained old maps, etchings and paintings to accompany the wonderful stories.  Tourists to Edinburgh, or the Scottish diaspora would buy such a work up big.  2/5 stars

The Scandal by Frederik Backman – took a while for me to get into this.  I believe it would appeal to mums of sporty teenagers – kind of like a “Big Little Lies” with Ice Hockey as the background.  Based around an “event” that took half the book to get to so I nearly put the book down.  But an absolute page turner after the event.  3/5 stars

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman – a true saga!  Set in St Thomas of the early 1800s but with frequent visits to Paris, this family saga spans 3 generations of secrets and scandals.  4/5 stars.

Resistance in futile by Jenny T. Colgan – Mathematics, geeks, romance, and science fiction come together is this highly readable and enjoyable book. 4/5 stars

Ladies in Black by Madeleine St John (eAudiobook) – Also titled, Women in Black, a thoroughly enjoyable novel of contemporary manners set in 1950s Sydney.  Great development of recognisable characters. Both insightful and funny. The film was also great. 4/5 stars

Winchester starring Helen Mirren (DVD) -I give it a rating of 4/5 stars

Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti – Slow to grab my attention, this Italian sci-fi pick up in the latter stages. Much like In the Country of Ice Cream Star, this dystopian novel set in Sicily has everyone over the age of 14 dead from a virus. Chaos follows. 3/5 stars

The Beautiful Death by Mathieu Bablet – A sepia toned exploration of post-apocalyptic Earth. Lovely art (except for the human faces). For anyone who had a hunch that insects are out to get us. 3.5/5 stars

If you loved the fictional diaries of comic British characters Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones, then you will probably enjoy Ceri Radford’s A Surrey State of Affairs which is available as an eAudiobook via the RB Digital app. Read by Jilly Bond, A Surrey State of Affairs purports to be the blog of Constance Harding, prim and proper 50-something wife, mother and church bell ringer as she navigates a tumultuous year in the life of her family. The humour is a little obvious and we often know what is coming long before Constance does, but if you feel like listening to something light, comic and very British, then this is a fun choice.

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again


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Man Booker Prize 2018 – The winner announced

Congratulations to Anna Burns for her unconventional novel Milkman, winner of the 2018 Man Booker, and recipient of a £50,000 prize.

None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.’ (Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges)

See below for the 2018 short listed books. With such an eclectic mix of themes there is bound to be something that appeals! But if it is all too much, don’t forget the long-listed Sabrina, the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker.

Milkman by Anna Burns

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous… Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences. (Faber & Faber)

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Escape is only the beginning. From the brutal cane plantations of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-filled streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black is the tale – inspired by a true story – of a world destroyed and the search to make it whole again. (Serpent’s Tale)

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

Everything Under  by Daisy Johnson

Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike, allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny. The Mars Room presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex. (Jonathan Cape)

The Overstory  by Richard Powers

 Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own – vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world, and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. (Penguin random House)

The Long Take  by Robin Robertson

Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties.

While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself. (Pan Macmillan)

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