Category Archives: Alison’s Picks
The Better Son by Katherine Johnson. Tasmania, 1952: two boys explore in the karst country of Central Tasmania, and find a cave. It becomes their secret, their refuge – until, one day, only one of them returns home.
The Woman Next Door by Liz Byrski. This one focuses on retired couples who are also neighbours, and the demands and pleasures that entails. Byrski is always honest and insightful.
Freeing Grace by Charity Norman. David, curate of an inner-city parish, and Leila, his Nigerian-born wife are unable to have children of their own. When they finally hear they’ve been approved to adopt a baby, Grace, they are overjoyed. But it turns out not to be that simple.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Alice Love has an accident at the gym – and the last ten years of her life are wiped from her memory in the brain injury that results. Gradually bits of memory return – but she is alarmed by what she discovers about herself. As usual with Moriarty, a gripping read.
My best-of list for this year has an all-Australian cast – hardly surprising. Australian literature is astonishingly good, and varied, and shows us our country. I read a lot of Australian writing: this is a small but enjoyable selection.
The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood’s dystopian novel set somewhere in outback Australia: a disparate group of women, and an enemy.
Ransacking Paris: a year with Montaigne and friends. Patti Miller spent a year living and writing in Paris, and this is the charming result. Clarity, truth and imagination characterise her prose.
One life: my mother’s story. Kate Grenville tells her mother’s life, a captivating biography of a strong woman.
The Last Days of Ava Langdon, Mark O’Flynn’s re-imagining of the life of an eccentric writer, loosely based on Eve Langley, who wrote The Pea Pickers and who lived in Katoomba. Mark is also a poet, and it shows.
The Dressmaker, by Rosalie Ham. An amusing story of revenge, involving the deft use of a sewing machine.
Truly Madly Guilty. Liane Moriarty is an accomplished storyteller, there is edge-of-seat suspense here, as well as keenly-observed suburban psychology.
The Mud House. Richard Glover, and his family and friends, built a house of mud brick, in the sticks. He learned to build as he went. This is the very engaging story of that journey.
Everywhere I Look. The unique Helen Garner offers us her set of essays about – well, life. Everywhere she looks there is something singular and interesting to ponder over. She’s a national treasure.
The Boy behind the Curtain. Tim Winton is possessed of a depth of perception, a wisdom, that is a little eerie. His prose is strong and beautiful, as always, in this autobiographical memoir. He’s clearly a national treasure too.