Sin­is­ter sis­ter­hood

Death in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals com­plex­ity of women’s re­la­tion­ships

Warwick Daily News - - RELAX -

FORCE of Na­ture proves Jane Harper, the au­thor of The Dry, is no one-hit won­der. Its premise is in­stantly grip­ping: five women hike into the bush for a cor­po­rate re­treat, but only four come out.

Breath­less read­ers are left grasp­ing for an­swers. Has Alice Russell just lost her way in the Gi­ralang Ranges? Has she been ac­ci­den­tally killed? Or is it mur­der?

As the book pro­gresses, sus­pects mount against the back­drop of the men­ac­ing bush. Is Alice’s boss try­ing to get rid of her to shut down a probe into fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties? Per­haps a fel­low trekker is sick of Alice’s leg­endary “mean streak”. Or does she have a run-in with an in­fa­mous fig­ure?

In ex­plor­ing the women’s re­la­tion­ships Harper re­veals the com­plex­i­ties of sis­ter­hood, moth­er­hood, old-school ties and cor­po­rate loy­alty. Fed­eral po­lice agent Aaron Falk makes an­other ap­pear­ance, and Harper even of­fers tan­ta­lis­ing glimpses of his per­sonal life.

— Susie O’Brien FORCE OF NA­TURE BY JANE HARPER, PAN MACMIL­LAN AUS­TRALIA, RRP $33

Fam­ily tale hits home truths

THE Golden fam­ily move to New York at the be­gin­ning of the Obama pres­i­dency, seek­ing a haven from a crime they may have com­mit­ted or the re­crim­i­na­tions that may fol­low.

There, Nero Julius Golden (not the real fam­ily name) and his sons, Petro­n­ius, Lu­cius Apeuleius and Diony­sus, flaunt their wealth, some­thing their old-money neigh­bours of Mac­dou­gal-Sul­li­van Gar­dens His­toric District find vul­gar. Lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal al­lu­sions are piled on thick by Rushdie.

The nar­ra­tor, Rene, a near neigh­bour, tells the story not only as an out­sider but also as a pro­tag­o­nist, and some­one who is min­ing it as a pos­si­ble movie script. There are in­struc­tions for ac­tors, cam­era and edit­ing cuts through­out. Here, Rushdie, win­ner of the 1981 Man Booker Prize, hits on truths about the state of so­ci­ety that make for tough read­ing – ex­cept when you’re laugh­ing at the ab­sur­dity of the rich jus­ti­fy­ing them­selves.

— Barry Reynolds THE GOLDEN HOUSE BY SAL­MAN RUSHDIE, JONATHAN CAPE, RRP $33

Lotte’s trek to safety amid war

LOTTE at 17 has big plans, but this is no easy time to be think­ing of the fu­ture. She is in Mu­nich in 1943, and the tide is turn­ing against the Ger­mans, though Lotte still sees Hitler as her coun­try’s hero.

She finds work as a sec­re­tary in the lo­cal Luft­waffe, happy to be do­ing her bit while she pre­pares to marry her long-time sweet­heart, Hein­rich.

But the war puts in­creas­ing de­mands on every­one, and Lotte finds her­self thrown to­gether with her boss, Erich.

As it be­comes clear Ger­many has lost – with Hein­rich miss­ing and Erich’s wife and chil­dren be­lieved dead – Lotte and Erich are forced into a dan­ger­ous trek to safety. And that is only the be­gin­ning of her strug­gles. Syd­ney writer Ta­nia Blan­chard based this book on sto­ries and let­ters her Ger­man grand­mother shared about her life in the war years, and she is now writ­ing a se­quel, based on her grand­mother’s post-war life in Aus­tralia in the 1950s. This novel fo­cuses heav­ily on Lotte’s per­sonal strug­gles and re­la­tion­ships, with the true hor­rors and dif­fi­cul­ties of the war largely tak­ing a back seat.

— Corinna Hente THE GIRL FROM MU­NICH BY TA­NIA BLAN­CHARD, SI­MON & SCHUSTER, RRP $30

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