The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE | READ -


When well-heeled Hugh and Chris­tine Clancy de­cide to cel­e­brate the 160th an­niver­sary of the fam­ily’s ar­rival in Aus­tralia, they in­vite as many de­scen­dants as they can find. They set up a party at their new vine­yard, Whipbird, just out­side Bal­larat, or­der meat and veg­e­tar­ian cater­ing and pour lots of wine. So this is a book about not just what’s on the coun­try’s mind, but what’s on the menu. This great chron­i­cler of mod­ern Aus­tralia re­alises that as we change what we put in the glass and on the plate, so the con­ver­sa­tion changes. Over the party week­end, we meet those who are man­ag­ing quite well, thank you, and those strug­gling to make sense of what is hap­pen­ing to the coun­try their an­ces­tor helped colonise. In another writer’s hands, the mul­ti­ple voices could have be­come jum­bled, but in this crowded book, Drewe gives the gen­er­a­tions space to speak. BARRY REYNOLDS VER­DICT: Glass con­scious

THE WAY BACK Kylie Ladd ALLEN & UNWIN, $29.99

Kylie Ladd, al­ways in­trigued by fam­ily dy­nam­ics, ex­plores dis­turb­ing ter­ri­tory in her lat­est book, The Way Back. Char­lie is 13, and in the twi­light zone be­tween girl­hood and ado­les­cence. An an­i­mal lover and a dreamer, she is adored but oc­ca­sion­ally over­looked by her busy par­ents and her brood­ing brother. When she goes miss­ing while rid­ing her horse, life as they know it grinds to a halt. As hours turn into days, Rachael, Matt and Dan have to con­front the pos­si­bil­ity of never see­ing sparky young Char­lie again. Hav­ing com­pleted a PhD in neu­ropsy­chol­ogy, Ladd is bet­ter qual­i­fied than most to ex­plore the ef­fects of trauma on vic­tims and their fam­ily mem­bers. Char­lie’s story is dif­fi­cult but still ab­sorb­ing, as is the par­al­lel story of what hap­pens to her fam­ily in her ab­sence. But the novel feels like a case study stripped of all its defin­ing parts. The char­ac­ters all fit a lit­tle too neatly into their boxes: the busy-but-guilty mother, the hero fire­man fa­ther, the brood­ing teenage brother. This stops the char­ac­ters from truly com­ing to life – and keeps the hor­ror from fully hit­ting home. MARGOT LLOYD VER­DICT: Missed op­por­tu­nity

THE CHOKE Sofie La­guna ALLEN & UNWIN, $33

Don’t for a mo­ment imag­ine that, af­ter tak­ing out the Miles Franklin Award in 2015 for her novel The Eye of the Sheep, the best of Sofie La­guna’s work is be­hind her. La­guna has just re­leased The Choke and it’s every bit as mas­ter­ful and dev­as­tat­ing as The Eye of the Sheep, as well as be­ing ut­terly ad­dic­tive. The Choke, where the Mur­ray River is at its most nar­row, seems like Jus­tine’s only sanc­tu­ary from all the chaos of her life. The 10-year-old has been told that her mum aban­doned her be­cause she never got over her breech birth. Her crim­i­nal dad is an ir­reg­u­lar fea­ture in her life. She lives, dirty and un­der­nour­ished, near the Mur­ray with her pop, who is rav­aged by his mem­o­ries of be­ing a pris­oner on the Burma Rail­way and what he did to his wife. To al­most ev­ery­one else Jussy is in­vis­i­ble. That is, un­til she strikes up a beau­ti­ful friend­ship with Michael, a boy in her class who has a dis­abil­ity. But life is tough for those dealt a bad hand and bru­tal­ity is al­ways bub­bling be­neath the sur­face. SHEL­LEY HAD­FIELD VER­DICT: Un­for­get­table


John McEn­roe is well and truly on the wrong side of 50 – 58 to be pre­cise – so, has the wild man of ten­nis mel­lowed? Well, he still says what he thinks and seems to have few re­grets – other than dis­cov­er­ing his tal­ents with a gui­tar will never match his vir­tu­os­ity with a rac­quet – as he takes a sec­ond look at his colour­ful life. McEn­roe’s first au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Se­ri­ously, was writ­ten 15 years ago and a lot has hap­pened since. The seven-time grand slam win­ner is still heav­ily in­volved as a com­men­ta­tor and coach and has never re­ally stopped play­ing, mix­ing that with rais­ing a large fam­ily, TV chat shows, mu­sic, deal­ing in art and more. He is also a world-class name-drop­per – you start to won­der whether there is a fa­mous mu­si­cian, for­mer pres­i­dent or star of any sport with whom he is not on first-name terms. Still, he comes across as more like­able th­ese days, with an end­less fund of in­ter­est­ing, hon­est anec­dotes. RON REED VER­DICT: A win­ner

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