Here, there and everywhere
It’s shaping up to be a summer of content for travel-hungry bookworms
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett. It’s the biography of Gabriele d’Annunzio, a romantic idealist and poet and writer who became an influential right-wing revolutionary, and helped set the stage for Italy and Europe’s descent into fascism and war.
I’m hoping to escape Sydney for a few days to my hideaway at Way Way on the NSW north coast. I’m a big fan of Sybille Bedford and I love Pleasures and Landscapes. She was a contemporary of Elizabeth David. When it comes to a Brit writing about Italy and its food, Bedford is by far my favourite. Pleasures and Landscapes is a series of articles she wrote for Vogue, Esquire and other magazines. The piece in the book called The Quality of Travel is something I read over and over as a touchstone of what a great writer can achieve. Stefano Manfredi recently celebrated 30 years of service to the Australian hospitality industry.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I met the author in 2005 when I worked for the Perth International Arts Festival as a publicist. I saw the movie a few months back — it was complex, with different plots skilfully woven into the story and so beautifully made.
I will be spending a week in Bali and I plan to read by the pool in our villa. Singapore-based Susie Lim-Kannan is director of public relations, Asia-Pacific, for FRHI Hotels & Resorts.
A Year i n Provence by Peter Mayle. I bought the book before a trip to Provence and it became a sort of guidebook to plan our itinerary. I would be in a cafe and imagine the characters from the book having breakfast next to me.
The Cuckoo’s Calling — I’m intrigued at the prospect of reading a crime novel by JK Rowling that was published under a pseudonym.
As a busy working mum there are limited opportunities to read a good book but I’m taking my family to Singapore and Thailand for some R&R and will be making good use of BA’s Club World beds to get in some reading before relaxing by the pool. Let’s hope my daughter sleeps on the flight. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert — what a fabulous insight into one woman’s experience of eating and enjoying life in Italy, finding spirituality in India and romance in Bali. Nicole Backo is the regional commercial manager, Southwest Pacific, for British Airways.
I’ve just started a book written by a friend of mine, Lisa Sweetingham. It’s Chemical Cowboys, the true story of the discovery of, and eventual focus on, the ecstasy trade by the (US) Drug Enforcement Agency. It’s fascinating, and reads like a fictional thriller — hard to believe it’s all real. It’s long, so I’ll enjoy it slowly through the holidays; I like treating myself to a few chapters at a time to make it last.
I tend to read most when flying so on a plane over the holidays is most likely. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, set in southern India in the 60s, and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, an incredible and mystical story of a man in search of meaning who ends up in Peru uncovering ancient insights. It’s a beautiful story of awakening and realisation. California-based Brad Packer is public relations director at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Bora Bora (Tahiti) and Hualalai (Hawaii).
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini — I cried my way through his first two books (set in Afghanistan), The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and adore his prose; and The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, which has been sitting by my bedside waiting for uninterrupted reading time.
I plan to read it on Lady Martin’s Beach when we return to Sydney (from Singapore). Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar — his writing makes you feel you are right there beside him. Singapore-based Gaynor Reid is director of communications, Accor Asia Pacific. FRENCH culture and history exude from the pages of two of our shop’s favourite summer non-fiction titles. Provence 1970: MFK Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr focuses on the summer of 1970 when six leading culinary figures found themselves in the south of France at the same time — US chef and food writer James Beard; cook, author and television presenter Julia Child; food writer Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher: Simone Beck, Child’s co-author on Mastering The Art of French Cooking; food editor Judith Jones; and French country cooking specialist Richard Olney.
‘‘The small group gathered there was the tightly wound nucleus around which all others orbited in the insular, still-clubby world of food and cooking in 1970,’’ Barr writes. ‘‘Their encounters in Provence, in rustic home kitchens, on stone terraces overlooking olive groves, in local restaurants, and at the ubiquitous farmers markets in the surrounding countryside, provide a unique, up-close view of the push and pull of history and personality, of a new world in the making.’’
Colette’s France: Her Lives, Her Loves by Melbourne academic Jane Gilmour presents the story of writer, journalist, performer and businesswoman SidonieGabrielle Colette in a highly accessible and beautifully produced hardcover.
For many years, Colette has been the subject of Gilmour’s academic research; this book is a promise that ‘‘through the places of her heart, we will come to know her’’.
Many of the crop of new fiction titles evoke a town, a country, a place. Alex Miller’s Coal Creek sees the author return to the scrub hinterland of central Queensland — a recurring setting in his work. Born in
The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor; On the Trail Of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope; Born In A Tent: How Camping Makes Us Australian by Bill Garner; One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson; Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks; White Beech: The Rainforest Years by Germaine Greer; The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane; A Bite of the Big Apple by Monica Trapaga and Lil Tulloch; Design Brooklyn by Anne Hellman. Britain, Miller lived in this area when he first arrived in Australia as a teenager and has developed a deep understanding of its forests and vegetation, its coarse beauty, and the tough people it nurtures.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is not necessarily a place that readers will want to visit. It is an important journey, however, and one that its author ensures we will never forget. Celebrated surgeon and Burma Railway prisoner-ofwar survivor Dorrigo Evans looks back on his life, the trauma, the key moments, the loves and friendships and wonders: could he have done better?
As the story moves back and forward in time, we visit rural Tasmania, Adelaide’s beaches, the stuffy world of Melbourne’s establishment, and post-war Japan. But it is the dank, thick Thai jungle that permeates these pages.
Shanghai is the setting for much of the action in Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement. This haunting story spans 50 years and tells the story of Violet Minturn, a young courtesan who becomes one of Shanghai’s most desired women. Once again Tan explores the intricacies of a powerful mother-daughter relationship in this return to her Joy Luck Club best.
One of the year’s must-reads is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Set mainly in New York where young Theo Decker’s life is forever changed when his mother is killed in a museum bomb blast, the book spends a fair chunk of its mid-story in Las Vegas. This is the hometown of Theo’s runaway drug-addicted father.
As Theo searches for the painting of a goldfinch — like him, a survivor of the art gallery massacre — we travel to Amsterdam and its seedy outskirts. But the Vegas memory stays strong; like Theo, we’ll never forget the things that happened to him there, nor the people he met. A good book’ll always do that. Corrie Perkin is a Melbourne journalist; she runs My Bookshop by Corrie Perkin at Hawksburn; mybookshop.net.au.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton; The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt; The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure; The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith; Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan; Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher.
last masterpiece P8
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s
Corrie Perkin in her Melbourne bookshop