Books

SOME SE­RI­OUS READ­ING THIS MONTH, AL­THOUGH A COU­PLE OF TH­ESE ARE PURELY FOR PLEA­SURE, TOO.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - RE­VIEWS ANNABEL LAW­SON

EV­ERY­ONE BRAVE IS FOR­GIVEN

Chris Cleave, Sceptre, $29.99 “Take qui­nine if it’s Cairo, take salt if it’s the desert, take pre­cau­tions if it’s a lo­cal girl… smoke no more than one pack, and keep any­thing made of metal on the out­side of your skin.” So go the words of wis­dom im­parted to newly en­listed sol­diers in this novel set dur­ing the out­break of World War II. As for civil­ians, Mary North, pos­i­tively soar­ing with en­thu­si­asm, signs on at the War Of­fice and is del­e­gated — not to spy in oc­cu­pied France as she’d hoped — to teach ju­niors evac­u­ated from Lon­don. Her best friend, Hilda, must watch Mary break hearts and in­no­cently steal Hilda’s in­tended. Mary fears for her true love out there on the bat­tle­field, yet fails to no­tice the loss of self. PS: There’s a huge plus to this tale — peo­ple were witty back then. You will chuckle.

ROSE’S VIN­TAGE

Kayte Nunn, Nero, $29.99 We never quite find out where Shin­gle Val­ley is. When she ar­rives, Rose refers to it as the “arse-end of nowhere”, but the Aus­tralian vine­yard where she has been sent to spy by her en­tre­pre­neur­ial brother emerges as a ma­jor char­ac­ter in the story. The plot more or less gives it­self away in the first few pages. Back in Lon­don, chubby Rose was dumped. She needs a new life. Surely no-one can bake as many cakes as she does in the time re­main­ing af­ter she’s nan­nied, cleaned, cooked din­ners and har­vested grapes. The cook­ing de­tails, though, are en­tic­ing — “Cal­va­dos-soaked brioche, crème anglaise, and pear and anise com­potes?” I want to make that now.

A MOTHER’S RECK­ON­ING

Sue Kle­bold, WH Allen, $35 No. Par­ents should not dis­miss a teenager’s con­tempt and de­ceit as “a pass­ing phase”, nor should teach­ers aban­don stan­dards of be­hav­iour in favour of pop­u­lar­ity with their pupils. Nor should doc­tors and psy­chol­o­gists pro­mote the the­ory that a teenager’s brain is un­de­vel­oped and there­fore a) there’s noth­ing to be done about an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, and b) the teenage mis­cre­ant is blame­less. All of th­ese at­ti­tudes are al­i­bis for the fact no-one knows what to do. In 1999, Sue Kle­bold’s son, Dy­lan, and his friend Eric Brown killed 12 stu­dents and a teacher, and wounded 24 oth­ers, at Columbine High School in Colorado, USA. Here, Kle­bold shares re­spon­si­bil­ity for what hap­pened.

LIT­TLE WAR­RIOR

Giuseppe Ca­tozzella, Allen & Un­win, $27.99 Samia Yusuf grew up in So­ma­lia. De­spite hav­ing no proper shoes and not much fund­ing, she made it to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she came last in the 200-me­tre heats. Her aim was to com­pete in the 2012 Lon­don Olympics, so she smug­gled her­self via Ethiopia, the Su­dan and Libya to the shores of the Mediter­ranean. Sadly, the traf­ficker’s boat sank and Samia drowned. Ca­tozzella is an Ital­ian jour­nal­ist in­spired by Samia’s story, and in­ter­viewed her fam­ily and oth­ers to form a first-per­son ‘au­to­bi­og­ra­phy’.

THE BRIDGE LADIES

Betsy Lerner, Macmil­lan, $32.99 Maybe the rea­son why I locked on in­stantly to this novel was be­cause my own mother was one of those quiet, ac­com­mo­dat­ing women who nev­er­the­less could pick up a hand of play­ing cards and be­come a guided mis­sile on the warpath. For Lerner’s mother’s gen­er­a­tion, the bonds formed at the Mon­day bridge club sus­tained them through a range of dif­fi­cul­ties, which, be­fore our cur­rent tell-all age, could not be ar­tic­u­lated.

THE WATERCOLOURIST

Beatrice Masini, Man­tle, $29.99 The set­ting is a villa not far from Mi­lan to­wards the end of the 1800s. Be­yond the villa and its lush gar­dens, there are po­lit­i­cal and so­cial shifts and tur­moil, but within, a har­mony is main­tained. The lord and mas­ter of this abode wishes to record ev­ery sin­gle plant on his es­tate and hires Bianca, a tal­ented young artist, to com­plete the task. What fol­lows will keep you in­volved and guess­ing. Masini, by the way, trans­lated the Harry Pot­ter books into Ital­ian.

FAREWELL TO THE FA­THER

Tim El­liott, Pi­cador, $34.99 ‘Mad Max’ was what El­liott’s fa­ther was called by his fel­low sur­geons. His pa­tients pre­sum­ably never knew their car­di­ol­o­gist was a vi­o­lent drunk who over­dosed any num­ber of times on a cock­tail of drugs pre­scribed for his bipo­lar con­di­tion by just about ev­ery psy­chi­a­trist in Syd­ney. El­liott’s orig­i­nal fea­ture in The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald’s Good Week­end mag­a­zine, which led to this har­row­ing book, un­leashed a furore. Thou­sands wrote in. Judge for your­self whether El­liott’s for­give­ness dam­age in­flicted from an early age.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.