Books

A STAND-OUT MONTH OF READ­ING WITH THREE BRIL­LIANT DE­BUTS.

Country Style - - CONTENS - RE­VIEWS ANNABEL LAW­SON

MOLLY’S GAME

Molly Bloom, Wil­liam Collins, $24.99

By the time this is­sue goes on sale you will have had a chance to see the movie of this true story. In Colorado Molly’s fa­ther was a mar­tinet who coached her to na­tional stan­dard as a skier, but she chose to ig­nore her tal­ents and be a gofer for a bul­ly­ing boor who ran a poker game. In Los An­ge­les Molly learns the ropes and sets up her own game, pays her taxes, makes sure the hired bim­bos don’t turn tricks. Soon Hol­ly­wood stars are beat­ing down the doors. Molly doesn’t play. She cre­ates am­bi­ence. Tips alone reach $50,000 a night. How can it be this easy? Stan­dover gang­sters move in. Blood and bruises. She takes her game to New York. Tipped off by her en­e­mies, the FBI swoop. Next thing you know she’s in hand­cuffs. Her lawyer can prove her innocent of crimes but the cost is un­af­ford­able. Ouch.

THE RIGHT GIRL

El­lie O’neill, Si­mon and Schus­ter, $29.99

Freya at­tributes the turn­around suc­cess in her hith­erto drab but pleas­ant life to the Bbest app (O’neill’s in­ven­tion) that ev­ery­one is us­ing. It makes all ma­jor de­ci­sions for you based mostly on what you’ve bought, but on a swathe of other fac­tors as well. Bbest has picked the per­fect match for Freya: Ma­son. He’s as thrilled as she is. Mean­while Freya’s ap­p­less grand­fa­ther is in trou­ble. Maybe Grandad is right and Bbest has an evil plan. Even if you’ve guessed the end­ing, this is an edge-of-the-seat read.

MRS.

Caitlin Macy, Si­mon and Schus­ter, $29.99

Three moth­ers whose chil­dren at­tend New York’s most cher­ished preschool: Gwen is mousy, Philippa is en­vied, wor­shipped al­most, Min­nie (named af­ter Min­nie Mouse) is, as they say, Some­thing Else. Their re­spec­tive hus­bands sup­ply the ex­quis­ite humour. I don’t think I have ever read any novel that so well evokes what goes on in the minds of young chil­dren. Whether you are pri­mar­ily a par­ent, a pro­fes­sional, or if (like Philippa), you couldn’t give a stuff about what other peo­ple think, off­spring in­cluded, this bril­liant de­but will rat­tle your cage.

THE PEARLER’S WIFE

Rox­ane Dhand, Ban­tam, $32.99

In 1912, Bri­tain sent out a team of ex-royal Navy divers to oust Ja­panese and Abo­rig­i­nal pearl divers in Broome who earned a frac­tion of what the white Bri­tish divers (with no pearling ex­pe­ri­ence) had been promised. As you can imag­ine, the pearlers who “owned” the cheap divers were ropable and nasty events en­sued. This slice of his­tory has been splen­didly brought to life by Dhand in her de­but novel.

HAP­PI­NESS FOR HU­MANS

P.Z. Reizin, Sphere, $29.99

Four ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence en­ti­ties, Ai­den, Ais­ling, Si­nai and Denise, are machines that can learn. They soon out­strip their two-legged man­agers Jen and Steeve (sic). Half­way through, there’s a pivot I didn’t see com­ing. A comic mas­ter­piece.

NO ONE IS COM­ING TO SAVE US

Stephanie Pow­ell Watts, Pen­guin, $32.99

It’s been billed as an African-amer­i­can ver­sion of The Great Gatsby. How­ever, I didn’t much like TGG (beaut writ­ing, te­dious char­ac­ters) whereas this de­but novel is a stun­ner. Lo­cal boy, now a mega mil­lion­aire, re­turns to court his child­hood sweet­heart. She’s mar­ried to a thicko. The story rolls out in the head of the young woman’s mother per­form­ing a men­tal dance we can all iden­tify with: “Have I got ev­ery­thing al­to­gether wrong here?”

GRACE KELLY, HOL­LY­WOOD DREAM GIRL

Jay Jorgensen and Manoah Bow­man, Dey St, $59.99

In this lavish trib­ute to Kelly’s six-year ca­reer, and then the years as Princess of Monaco, and her tragic death at the wheel of her Rover 3500 in 1982, the most star­tling piece of in­for­ma­tion is how her ca­reer started. The Hol­ly­wood di­rec­tor Fred Zin­ne­mann needed a bud­get-priced fe­male lead in High Noon. Jay Kan­ter, a tal­ent scout, showed him a postage stamp-sized shot of a 22-year-old un­known, Grace Kelly, and Zin­ne­mann said, “Sign her”. No au­di­tion. Heart­break­ing news for the act­ing fra­ter­nity. For­get about tal­ent and tech­nique, it’s all about looks.

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