Books

THERE ARE A LOT OF STRONG WOMEN AND MEN IN THIS MONTH’S SE­LEC­TION. BE IN­SPIRED.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - RE­VIEWS ANNABEL LAW­SON

KOH-I-NOOR Wil­liam Dal­rym­ple and Anita Anand, Blooms­bury, $24.99

The 190-carat whop­per reached Queen Vic­to­ria with a his­tory of blood­baths and in­tol­er­a­ble lux­ury along­side ut­ter sub­mis­sion. In­di­ans, then Per­sians, Afghans and Sikhs owned the stone. It wasn’t even sparkly. Dutch cut­ters as­sured QV that they could make it glit­ter with­out weight loss. They lied. When she got it back it was a mere 93 carats. But, boy oh boy, it glit­tered. For der­ring-do this yarn is hard to beat.

NOT JUST LUCKY Jamila Rizvi, Pen­guin, $35

When this book ar­rived I’d just been watch­ing an in­ter­view with Ur­sula Burns, the first African Amer­i­can fe­male CEO to head a For­tune 500 com­pany. She’d joined Xerox with a good en­gi­neer­ing de­gree but hadn’t ex­pected to be spot­ted and placed in the fast lane. “What’s your se­cret?” asked the in­ter­viewer. Did she say “brains”, “lead­er­ship” or “vi­sion”? No. She said, “I was lucky”. Rizvi, pre­sen­ter and com­men­ta­tor, is a reg­u­lar on Aus­tralia’s ‘Most In­flu­en­tial’ lists. Her most rous­ing chap­ter is about “man­ag­ing up like a boss”. Hus­tle, she says.

DI­A­MOND SKY An­nie Seaton, Macmil­lan, $29.99

In Seaton’s thriller Dru Porter’s job is to mon­i­tor ev­ery­thing which im­pacts the site of the Matsu di­a­mond mine in the Kim­ber­ley. When the mine closes down it will be her job to re­store it to its former state. Lit­tle does she know that she’s the sus­pect in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into stolen un­cut gems. Fleet­ing mem­o­ries of her lurid ad­ven­tures in Dubai tease the reader. Ul­ti­mately, the need to feel safe trumps ma­te­rial con­sid­er­a­tions.

JANE AND ME: MY AUSTEN HER­ITAGE Caro­line Jane Knight, The Greyfriar Group, $32.95

Knight adds some­thing unique to the seem­ingly in­ex­haustible Austen brand. She’s a de­scen­dant and lived in Austen’s brother’s manor, Chaw­ton House, un­til she was 16. Then it was sold and Knight felt usurped, adrift in Lon­don. She came to Aus­tralia, glad to be far away from in­tru­sive nos­tal­gia, and started a literacy foun­da­tion to help the least ed­u­cated. Even­tu­ally her des­tiny caught up with her. Janeites long to hear her mem­o­ries. The Austen brand shows no sign of di­min­ish­ing.

DON­ALD HORNE: SE­LECTED WRIT­INGS Edited by Nick Horne, La Trobe, $32.99

The prob­lem for in­tel­lec­tu­als in Aus­tralia is usu­ally poverty. When Horne took up his first aca­demic ap­point­ment in 1973 he was “paid less than half his in­come at The Bul­letin” but it en­abled him to do more re­search and to travel. Horne’s 1964 book The Lucky Coun­try char­ac­terised us as ‘strongly in­im­i­cal to ideas’; he de­duced that clev­er­ness was con­sid­ered unaus­tralian. Th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions were ap­pre­ci­ated by the un­blush­ing tar­gets. His son Nick has com­piled a col­lec­tion of ex­tracts span­ning eco­nomics, his­tory, pol­i­tics and so­ci­ol­ogy.

THE WOMAN IN THE WOOD Les­ley Pearse, Pen­guin, $32.99

Pearse’s per­cep­tive novel opens in 1960. Twins Maisy and Dun­can, 15, see their mother dragged off in a van. Their chilly fa­ther dis­patches them to live with his even chill­ier mother. She hires a tu­tor. His kind­ness and the beau­ties of the New For­est seem like par­adise af­ter what the awk­ward pair suf­fered at home in Lon­don. They spy on a lone woman liv­ing in the woods. She’s an­gry at first but be­comes their ally when Dun­can dis­ap­pears and hor­rors grad­u­ally come to light.

THE VAN­ISH­ING AMER­I­CAN ADULT Ben Sasse, St Martin’s Press, $36.99

What hap­pens, so­ci­o­log­i­cally, in the US usu­ally finds its way here. Se­na­tor Sasse from Ne­braska has two young daugh­ters. When asked to rec­om­mend books for their peers they’d prove their in­tel­lec­tual ma­tu­rity by pro­duc­ing im­pres­sive lists. Then the fam­ily went on hol­i­day and the air-con­di­tion­ing broke down. The girls could not adapt, or make the best of things. Sasse de­cided to look into this be­hav­iour. His dis­cov­er­ies led to this book which out­lines a wider prob­lem — creep­ing pas­siv­ity — there’s a co­hort out there that will never ac­cept the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of adult­hood. Sasse has ev­i­dence. And so­lu­tions.

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