GAME ON A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WIFE
BIANCA CHATFIELD & LEIGH RUSSELL
HARDIE GRANT BOOKS, RRP $34.99 Inspiring role models for women can be hard to come by. How handy then to have a handbook for being the best you can possibly be, put together by a couple of gals who are young enough to give off a cool vibe, and successful enough to make others want to emulate them. Australian Diamonds netball defender and ex-Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield has teamed up with high-performance coach and leadership specialist Leigh Russell, who also appears on Foxtel’s The Recruit, and together the pair have put together an engaging and delightful manual on getting the most out of your life, and achieving the success you want. The design is great, with a page of “Winning Plays” for each of the five chapters: Game On, Mind Games, Take the Lead, You Got This, and The Game Plan. Both authors share their stories throughout, and the book can be delved into at any chapter if desired. It’s an engaging, inspiring handbook that should be required reading for school leavers, anyone thinking of starting a business, hatching an idea, or wanting to be better.
Verdict: every gal should have one
SCRIBE, RRP $20 In the tradition of famous couplings such as Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, and recently Mick Jagger and 20-something ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, comes a short but intriguing novel exploring the complexities of long-term relationships between mature men and their young female partners. Esteemed microbiologist Edward Landauer has barely bothered with relationship commitment until his heart is won over at 42 by the beauty and spark of Ruth Walta, a girl 15 years his junior whom he spots as she cycles past a cafe. After another chance meeting, the pair defy their age gap — and the doubts of Ruth’s parents — to marry. But after the birth of their son Morris, Edward finds himself dwelling on his ageing body as his wife focuses on her adored child, even suggesting Edward’s presence makes the baby ill. Separate beds, an affair and a widening difference of opinion over Edward’s use of animals in his research only serve to increase his self-doubts and decrease his selfesteem despite his strong standing in the scientific field. Dutch novelist Tommy Wieringa takes us on a journey deep into the psyche of an ageing male in this potent work translated with feeling by Sam Garrett. No words are wasted in this thought-provoking love story.
Verdict: love in any language
MACMILLAN AUSTRALIA. RRP $33 Life in the ’burbs is not all lawnmowing and barbecues. Like Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, Australian debut author Meredith Jaffe’s novel homes in on a hot-button issue that divides the characters, in this case a fence rather than a slap. Gwen and Eric Hill, now in their ’70s, moved to Green Valley Avenue in Sydney as newlyweds. They built a community with neighbours Val and Babs, with no need for fences when a manicured row of crab apples would do. Gwen is devastated when Babs dies and the house is sold. Her grief deepens when dogmatic working mum Frankie Desmarchelliers turns up with house husband Brendan and four kids in tow, and a determination to get rid of the crab apples and erect a fence. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal tells the warring neighbours to sort it out themselves but tensions turn to spite. Jaffe’s quick-witted humour, appreciation of generational gaps and canny observations of children make the story credible and entertaining. Gwen evokes the most sympathy, grappling with Eric’s memory lapses and pouring out her frustrations in her allegorical gardening columns. Frankie, the epitome of the modern woman learning she can’t have it all, becomes a “complete b----” as she stews over Brendan’s infidelity and poor housekeeping skills. The climax is a bit contrived, but still touching. The Fence sits on the commercial fiction spectrum somewhere between Liz Byrski and Liane Moriarty.
Verdict: beyond the pale
SIMON & SCHUSTER, RRP $33 Author Anita Heiss takes the 1944 outbreak of Japanese POWs in Cowra, NSW, and introduces an intriguing premise: What if one of those prisoners were given refuge at the nearby Erambie Aboriginal Mission? Thomas Keneally’s Shame and the Captives was a fictionalised retelling of the same outbreak, looking at it from Japanese and Australian perspectives. Heiss introduces another layer to the story with Mary, 17, who lives on the mission with her parents, Banjo and Joan. Community elders Banjo, Sid and Fred decide hiding Hiroshi in an air raid is the most humane thing to do. “You mob are traitors,” Banjo’s brother Kevin says. But Banjo likes the idea of outwitting the authorities who control his life and deny him citizenship. He gives Mary the nightly task of taking Hiroshi a share of the little food they have. At first she’s scared but 25-year-old Hiroshi, who speaks English, is a man more interested in poetry than war. The bunker becomes a place where they bond over stories of family and tradition. But the love that develops is sorely tested when the war ends and the community grapples with new challenges.
Verdict: history with heart
EMPIRE OF STONES BOOK 5 THRONE OF GLASS BY SARAH J MAAS
HARRY POTTER & THE CURSED CHILD PARTS 1 & 2 BY J.K. ROWLING
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN BY PAULA HAWKINS
TRULY MADLY GUILTY BY LIANE MORIARTY
EAT CLEAN BY LUKE HINES
LIST SUPPLIED BY DYMOCKS AUSTRALIA
SALTWATER: AN EPIC FIGHT FOR JUSTICE IN THE TROPICS BY CATHY MCLENNAN
THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS BY DOMINIC SMITH
EMPIRE OF STORMS BY SARAH J. MAAS
GHOST EMPIRE BY RICHARD FIDLER
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS I & II BY J.K. ROWLING
LIST SUPPLIED BY MARY WHO? TOWNSVILLE
113 MINUTES BY JAMES PATTERSON WITH MAX DILALLO
AUNTIE POLDI AND THE SICILIAN LIONS / MARIO GIORDANO; TRANSLATED BY JOHN BROWNJOHN
ALWAYS A COWBOY BY LINDA LAEL MILLER
THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE: A TALE OF THE LAKE DISTRICT BY JAMES REBANKS
CARNAL INNOCENCE BY NORA ROBERTS