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.