Read­ing room

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

Crime, satire, mys­tery, and his­tor­i­cal nov­els to tick off your must-read list all fea­ture in this month’s fab­u­lous se­lec­tion.

ALL DAY AT THE MOVIES by Fiona Kid­man, Pen­guin.

For more than half a cen­tury, Dame Fiona Kid­man has been one of New Zealand’s most out­stand­ing writ­ers, and with her lat­est novel, All Day at the Movies, she de­liv­ers more of her ex­quis­ite prose and smooth, ab­sorb­ing sto­ry­telling. The jour­ney of Irene San­dle and her four chil­dren be­gins in the closed-minded, post-war to­bacco fields of Motueka and, over 55 years, wends through much of New Zealand and its so­cial and cul­tural his­tory – from un­wed moth­ers and adop­tion, to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, in­ter­ra­cial re­la­tion­ships and the protests of the 1981 Spring­bok tour – and the ef­fects it all has on this splin­tered fam­ily. Each chap­ter is a dis­tinct episode that re­veals a lit­tle more of the com­plex, yet com­pletely re­lat­able, lives of Irene’s off­spring. An­other en­rich­ing read from the grande dame of New Zealand mod­ern-day lit­er­a­ture. SM

THE SELL­OUT by Paul Beatty, Allen & Un­win.

This Booker Prize win­ning novel is a scabrous, comic as­sault on US race re­la­tions, de­signed to leave you gasp­ing – for air, be­cause it’s wickedly funny, and in ad­mi­ra­tion be­cause Beatty says the un­sayable things about how it feels to be a young black man in Amer­ica. His chief char­ac­ter, Me, is locked in a court bat­tle to save his neigh­bour­hood, writ­ten off the LA maps, by re­in­stat­ing slav­ery and seg­re­gat­ing the high school. Yet the satir­i­cal plot mat­ters less than Me’s rap-style com­men­tary, tak­ing aim at every as­sump­tion shared by black, white and brown Amer­i­cans. A chal­lenge, a circus and a bril­liant shake-down of a book. JB

THE GOLDEN CHILD by Wendy James, HarperCollins.

It takes 48 hours to pulse through Wendy James’ roller­coaster 21stcen­tury story about par­ent­ing, which be­gins with nav­i­gat­ing the trick-or-treat­ing dilemma – to ac­com­pany or not? – but cli­maxes with the ques­tion, what age is my child legally re­spon­si­ble for crim­i­nal ac­tions? Aus­tralians Dan and Beth are re­lo­cat­ing home from New Jersey with their daugh­ters, sweet Lucy and con­trol­ling Char­lie, who’s im­pli­cated as ring­leader in a poi­sonous ini­ti­a­tion rite at her US school. Af­ter a new start at Hunter Ladies Col­lege, NSW, Char­lie, in or­der to win favour with the it-girls, tricks shy friend Sophie into pos­ing naked in self­ies, which end up on the web. When Sophie’s mother finds her over­dosed daugh­ter, we are faced with a child mon­ster, se­rial bully and even killer, if Sophie does not sur­vive. A chill­ing novel of our time, with a truly shock­ing twist. KE

EGGS OR AN­AR­CHY by Wil­liam Sitwell, Si­mon & Schus­ter.

Win­ston Churchill wasn’t the only one with a rather de­mand­ing wartime job. Fred Mar­quis, later Lord Woolton, had to feed 41 mil­lion peo­ple against over­whelm­ing odds. At the out­break of World War II, less than a third of the food on Bri­tish ta­bles was pro­duced at home. With English ships un­der siege around the world, black mar­ke­teers wait­ing to pounce on any vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, and a rigid gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy to deal with, Woolton was fight­ing his own war. There’s a de­li­cious story about Woolton deal­ing with a re­cal­ci­trant Egyp­tian sugar sup­plier, and the pe­ri­odic ap­pear­ances of Churchill, grumpily be­moan­ing ra­tioning, are a treat. LM

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