Country Style




Kim Lock, Macmillan, $29.99

A weepie. The story begins back in the 1960s. Lock takes her time quietly mocking the way we were. What we didn’t say or even imagine. Fast forward to the present and Thomas Mullett is confessing all to a nice psychother­apist who is unprepared for what he will hear, but rallies splendidly. So much happens. To say more would spoil the surprises.


Alexander Langlands, Faber and Faber, $39.99

One fine day, Langlands, historian and archeologi­st, fell foul of his whipper snipper. The blasted thing required constant maintenanc­e. Among his collection of nice things to own was a scythe. A passing gamekeeper stopped to explain what he was doing wrong and also primed the implement. Scythes have been in use for 2500 years. This one worked like a dream. Since then Langlands has researched implements, made by hand, which predate power tools. Every paragraph yields something new and potently attractive.


A.J. Finn, Harpercoll­ins, $39.99

Someone witnesses a murder. Police arrive. No body. No sign of violence. Witness severely reprimande­d for wasting police time. Yes, it’s been done before. The most famous example is Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Finn’s witness, however, is an agoraphobi­c. For 10 months Anna Fox has remained indoors, alone, with online chess, DVDS, crate-loads of merlot and a panoply of modern gadgetry for clandestin­e surveillan­ce. Neighbour Rita Miller cheats on her husband, across the way Alistair Russell is a control freak. Then Anna sees the fatal stabbing. If it wasn’t a hallucinat­ion, the murderer must surely want to shut her up. Scary.


Laura Greaves, Michael Joseph, $35

Greaves finds 29 ‘profession­s’ at which dogs excel. As we know, dogs can detect explosives, drugs and an impending epileptic fit. Less well known is their affinity with antisocial adolescent­s; true friends when family and therapists struggle to find a pathway.


Paul Atterbury and Marc Allum, William Collins, $39.99

The much-loved television show has drawn together people who wouldn’t normally cross paths. We see them gathering in the grounds of a Kentish abbey or a Northumbri­an castle, bringing items for a free evaluation. A staggering­ly ugly vase might turn out to be worth tens of thousands, while an exquisite scent bottle gets a sweet smile and, “About 20 quid?” The stories in the book tell much about the power of old objects to spark an appetite for the past.


Mike Willesee, Macmillan, $44.99

A Royal Commission found that Bindoon reformator­y inflicted sexual abuse on the boys in its care. When Willesee was 10 years old, his father sent him there for a year to “toughen him up”. Willesee describes it as “the epicentre of the sadism: paedophili­a, slave labour, physical abuse and psychologi­cal brutality”. He became the whipping boy. His mother confessed that she bonded only with the youngest of her six children and that Mike was the one she liked least. So, a bad start in life. However, journalism was Willesee’s escape. In This Day Tonight, Four Corners, Willesee at Seven and Sunday Night, he made the media understand that Canberra’s schedule plus sport, sport, sport were not enough. The most shocking chapters are the first and the last. Last year Willesee’s oncologist­s told him he had incurable tumours. At his insistence they trialled a new drug. After nine weeks the terminal tumours had gone. They’re beginning to be active again and he’s having radiation. His specialist is very positive.


Nuno Mendes, Bloomsbury, $49.99

Long ago in Mozambique, which was then a Portuguese colony, I learnt to like their food. Meat was cooked overnight in ancient ovens, plump sardines blackened on barbecues and prawns piri piri were everyday fare. Mendes, a Lisboan, is now a famous London chef. His recipes in this book are perhaps more an inspiratio­n to dine out than to prepare at home. It’s a book I’d give to someone stressed and weary as a hint to plan a hang-loose holiday. At an hour when we would be thinking about lunch, Lisboans are still ruminating over breakfast’s bolas de Berlim — squelchy doughnuts filled with egg custard.

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