The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna. This novel won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Central character Jimmy Flick is a little boy on the spectrum somewhere. His mother adores and protects him, his father is an alcoholic who can’t manage being the father of such a child, can’t manage much at all really. By and by Jimmy is cast into the treacherous seas of non-belonging. Read this one for the gripping, authentic Jimmy-voice in which the story is told. Beautifully written and compelling.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. The setting is Holt, Colorado. Addie Moore, long widowed and lonely as she ages, walks a block down the street to make a surprising proposal to a man she has known for years, Louis Waters, also a widower. The storytelling is mature and stately, a last statement from Haruf, who died at the close of 2014. A beautiful book, with the elements of joy and sorrow firmly plaited.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. The setting is ancient England, when Britons and Saxons were at war with each other. The story concerns the journey of old Axl and Beatrice, searching for their son. They meet warriors, traitors and a bewitched boy. I presume the whole is an allegory, whose precise meaning I am not sure of. Is the buried giant the tide of forgetfulness that prevents us seeing the truth? The graceful storytelling rises and falls like poetry. A story with mythical components tells far more than it appears to.
The loveliest chocolate shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan – It took a while to get into but then I didn’t want it to end. It made me want to go to Paris to taste all their lovely chocolates! – 4/5
Villette by Charlotte Bronte – (from the reading challenge a book over 100 years old – the second I’ve read this year from this category) It was quite a difficult read as it was written in old-fashioned English (of course!) and it had lots of French conversation in it which I was not able to follow, but it was well worth the effort. 5/5
The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce – (not a reading challenge book) Loved it!!!!!!! 5/5
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – (not a reading challenge book) – Very, very clever 5/5
Book by John Agard – from the reading challenge a non-fiction book (my 3rd for this challenge) and a memoir – A children’s book about the birth of writing and books told by Book – it is after all a memoir of its life – a really fun read. 5/5
A book your mum loves:
Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri – This is an Inspector Montalbano mystery, a great crime thriller with a minimum of gore. Set in Sicily, there is lots of talk of delicious food and seaside atmosphere amid the mystery. Fun for both the armchair traveller, foodie and the crime lover. 3.5/5
A book with a love triangle:
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner – set in the 1970s, this book follows a young female artist/motorcyclist trying to make her way in New York art world. She falls for an Italian motorcycle empire heir, and becomes caught up in political tensions, social unrest and terrorism in Italy. Unflinching and gritty, though beautifully written. 4.5/5
A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit:
Mezza Italiana by Zoe Boccabella – The author resisted her Italian heritage during her youth, growing up in 1970s and 80s Australia. She just wanted to fit in with the other kids, but encountered racism every step of the way. But as she got older, she realised the significance of her heritage and family. She and her partner Richard decide to explore her ancestral homeland, Fossa in Abruzzo. What unfolds is a wonderful acceptance and embracing of her family’s history and legacy. 3.5/5
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas – loved it – highly readable and revolting characters that test your ethics. 4 stars
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George – hard to read which was a shame as I thought it had all the elements I would normally enjoy. 2 stars
Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven. A collection of stories interwoven. An interesting slice of Australia. 3 stars
A book published this year:
Anzac Voices Gallipoli from those who were there – ABC Classics
Recorded between 1953 and 1990, the compelling and deeply emotional first-hand accounts drwn from the ABC Archives recall in graphic detail the circumstances and events of the Gallipoli campaign, from the innocence of enlistment to the horror of the landing and – for those who lived to tell their story – the bitter relief of homecoming. 3 stars
Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin – such a beautiful story about a boy, his flute and how it changed his life living on the streets of India. 4 stars
The Crossroad by Mark Donaldson VC. Worth reading just to know the level of involvement Australia had in Afghanistan. 4 stars
Noah Barleywater runs away by John Boyne (4/5) – A lovely story, I really enjoyed it (though it may make you cry). Noah Barleywater runs away from his home. He finds himself in a village and in front of a mysterious and magical toy shop. The toy maker tells Noah the story of his life and slowly, Noah reveals his own story and what it was that made him run away.
The Pause by John Larkin (3/5) –Suicide is a difficult theme and I really liked the beginning of this story and John Larkin’s bravery in tackling this topic. But the ending was disappointing and cliché.
Interview with the vampire by Anne Rice (3.5/5) – This was written wonderfully, but I just didn’t like the characters.
The ice dragon by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Luis Royo (3.5/5) – A sweet little tale about a young girl born in the winter and her relationship with the ice dragon and her family.