BOOK CLUB

IF YOU WERE ENTHRALLED BY THE WHO THE HELL IS HAMISH? POD­CAST, CHECK OUT THE LAT­EST READ ON WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE IN LOVE WITH A LIAR

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS -

AL­LE­GRA IN THREE PARTS Suzanne Daniel MACMIL­LAN, $30

In the tra­di­tion of Aussie clas­sic Look­ing For Ali­brandi comes a stun­ning com­ing-of-age de­but by Aussie Suzanne Daniel. It’s 1970s Aus­tralia, a time of cro­cheted pants suits, drag­ster bikes and the bur­geon­ing women’s lib­er­a­tion move­ment. For pre-teen Al­le­gra, it’s also a con­fus­ing and chal­leng­ing time, jug­gling life with­out a mother, the undis­guised ha­tred be­tween her two grand­moth­ers liv­ing in neigh­bour­ing houses, and lack of at­ten­tion from her largely ab­sent fa­ther. Hence the book’s ti­tle, as Al­le­gra tries to split her­self be­tween the three most im­por­tant peo­ple in her life. One grand­mother is a Holo­caust sur­vivor bear­ing the scars of that life while dream­ing of Al­le­gra be­com­ing a doc­tor. Other gran is a free-spir­ited, emo­tional leader in the move­ment against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. And her dad seems to just like surf­ing. For Al­le­gra, it’s a life lit­tered with ques­tions and un­told se­crets that in­evitably come to an ex­plo­sive head. An Aussie story to cher­ish.

CARINA BRUCE VER­DICT: Smiles and tears

FAKE Stephanie Wood VIN­TAGE, $35

Jour­nal­ist Stephanie Wood is used to telling sto­ries about oth­ers but this time she’s re­veal­ing her own sad tale. Meet­ing the man of your dreams and liv­ing hap­pily ever af­ter is what most women want and she thought she’d met the man she was go­ing to spend the rest of her life with. Turns out he wasn’t who he said he was — in fact, far from it. He has se­ri­ous form in ma­nip­u­lat­ing women into be­liev­ing his web of lies. There are some red flags along the way but Wood holds hope they’re just hic­cups and this man does care deeply for her. But af­ter plenty of no-shows and odd ex­cuses, Wood re­alises he is a com­pul­sive liar. When the re­la­tion­ship ends, she in­ves­ti­gates who he re­ally is and dis­cov­ers how she was sucked into be­liev­ing his tall sto­ries. Sim­i­lar to the Who the Hell is Hamish? pod­cast about a nar­cis­sis­tic con­man who rips off mil­lions from in­no­cent peo­ple, Wood’s jour­ney is sadly one many other women, and men, have ex­pe­ri­enced.

SO­PHIE ELSWORTH VER­DICT: Cap­ti­vat­ing

THE ROADHOUSE Kerry Mcgin­nis PEN­GUIN RAN­DOM HOUSE, $33

The Aus­tralian Out­back makes a ter­rific set­ting for lo­cal crime mys­ter­ies and Kerry Mcgin­nis’s lat­est book could suit read­ers want­ing a softer in­tro­duc­tion to the genre. The ac­tion hap­pens east of Alice Springs in des­o­late ter­rain, in a re­mote roadhouse with a fam­ily har­bour­ing quite a few skeletons in the closet. Wannabe ac­tor Char­lie re­turns home af­ter her cousin Annabelle com­mits sui­cide. Char­lie’s mother Molly runs the strug­gling roadhouse but as a health is­sue un­folds, she has to let her daugh­ter take charge. The dis­cov­ery of a woman’s body at an old mine site has ev­ery­one ask­ing ques­tions and, for a few sec­onds, the spot­light is on some of the main char­ac­ters. Well-hid­den se­crets find light as the search for the truth about Annabelle’s death leads Char­lie and her com­rades down a per­ilous track of life and death. The past of­ten ex­plains the present and in the end a daugh­ter fi­nally learns from her mother that not all choices are easy to make, or live with.

WENDY MASON VER­DICT: Mod­est crime

SHOOT THROUGH J.M. Green SCRIBE, $30

Stella Hardy has a knack of get­ting her­self into trou­ble. The cyn­i­cal and wise­crack­ing so­cial worker makes an un­likely main char­ac­ter but she is a truly fas­ci­nat­ing and funny Aussie hero. Although this is the third book in the Stella Hardy se­ries, it could just as eas­ily be the first, as the story stands alone as a great read. This time Mel­bourne au­thor J.M. Green has us fol­low­ing Hardy through the maze of the Vic­to­rian pri­vate prison sys­tem, the big bucks of cat­tle theft and the usual fam­ily road­blocks. Hardy is, how­ever, per­sis­tent and ca­pa­ble in true “hard-boiled” de­tec­tive tra­di­tion de­spite her desk job sta­tus. Hardy’s plans for a ro­man­tic week­end quickly turn mur­der­ous when she is given a lethal dead­line while jug­gling her jail­bird brother, his preg­nant girl­friend, nar­cis­sis­tic sis­ter and mur­der threats. At the same time, our law-abid­ing so­cial worker is des­per­ately try­ing to hide a $400,000 il­le­gal “shoot through” stash from her best friend po­lice of­fi­cer.

KA­RINA BARRYMORE VER­DICT: Wise­crack­ing fun

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