BOOK CLUB

AN EN­CHANT­ING READ / A DIF­FI­CULT LOVE STORY / TEST­ING THE BONDS OF SISTERHOOD / MAP­PING DIGGERS’ ROLE IN WWI’S FI­NAL MONTHS

Warwick Daily News - - Weekend - VER­DICT:

THE LOST FLOW­ERS OF ALICE HART Holly Ring­land FOURTH ES­TATE, $33

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and the lies that sur­round it — rarely is the topic ex­plored in such a beau­ti­fully writ­ten, hope­ful and en­thralling tale. Alice’s be­gin­nings in life are rooted in her par­ents’ abu­sive re­la­tion­ship. Tragedy in­ter­venes and Alice is thrust into a new life with a fam­ily of scarred yet strong women who sur­round her with love — and flow­ers — but tell her lit­tle of her past. So when she suf­fers the ul­ti­mate be­trayal at the hands of this “fam­ily”, she runs, and it’s not sur­pris­ing that abuse and de­nial are re­peated in Alice’s adult life. Ul­ti­mately, what leads Alice to break the cy­cle is the dis­cov­ery and un­der­stand­ing of her own story, and ac­cep­tance of the love and trust of other women. There are few give­aways that this is a first novel. In­deed, while tack­ling such a tough topic, it’s an en­chant­ing read. The fiery cen­tre of Aus­tralia is where her life com­busts. Yet, like the re­mark­able abil­ity of flow­ers to bloom in the harsh­est of en­vi­ron­ments, and with the gen­tle and wise ad­vice of Abo­rig­i­nal elders, it’s where her life be­gins its re­gen­er­a­tion as she learns to love and live her story.

Hope­ful SU­SAN MCNAIR

THE ONLY STORY Ju­lian Barnes RAN­DOM HOUSE UK, $33

The premise for Ju­lian Barnes’ lat­est of­fer­ing is that each and ev­ery one of us has a story — the story of our love. And how ac­com­mo­dat­ing are we of the sto­ries of others? Well, this one is set out to chal­lenge. About 40 to 50 years ago, 19year-old Paul goes along to the vil­lage ten­nis club one day hop­ing for a game and there meets Su­san, 48, merry de­spite her love­less mar­riage. As nar­ra­tor Paul notes, this is the worst ro­mance for his par­ents to con­tem­plate. What fol­lows are med­i­ta­tions on love, the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of the re­la­tion­ship, the ef­fects on those around them, and how far they will go to main­tain it sur­rounded as they are by the more con­ven­tional sto­ries. There are mo­ments of lev­ity, shock, af­fec­tion and in­creas­ing sad­ness. At the end, the abid­ing ques­tion is: is it bet­ter to have loved?

VER­DICT: A dif­fi­cult love LEE HOWARD

BE­FORE I LET YOU GO Kelly Rim­mer HACHETTE, $30

They’re sis­ters who were in­cred­i­bly close as kids, but now they couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Lexie has thrown off the shack­les of a dif­fi­cult child­hood to be a doc­tor. But An­nie is a drug ad­dict who’s never been able to for­get her dark days in a reli­gious cult. And when she re­con­nects with Lexie in a des­per­ate 2am phone call, it’s to plead for help be­cause she’s preg­nant. For Lexie, it’s an all-too-fa­mil­iar sce­nario, but this time there’s a child in­volved. Un­der Alabama law, An­nie is fac­ing child en­dan­ger­ment charges and jail for ex­pos­ing her un­born child to drugs. Ru­ral NSW au­thor Kelly Rim­mer tears at the heart­strings with this tale of a dys­func­tional fam­ily com­pli­cated by drug ad­dic­tion and the ar­rival of an in­no­cent baby. Emo­tions are fur­ther tested by the death of the girls’ beloved fa­ther, an es­tranged mother and the lin­ger­ing ef­fects of the con­trol­ling cult. Just how far can that sis­terly bond stretch be­fore it snaps?

VER­DICT: Mov­ing CARINA BRUCE

AUS­TRALIANS ON THE WEST­ERN FRONT 1918 VOL 1 David W. Cameron PEN­GUIN, $35

We are now in the fi­nal year of the World War I cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tion and the books about the war in­evitably fo­cus on the fi­nal months of the con­flict. This work is the first of two vol­umes that con­cen­trate on the Aus­tralian troops’ fi­nal year on the West­ern Front. David W. Cameron is a metic­u­lous recorder of events and mil­i­tary tac­tics and strate­gies. This first vol­ume con­cen­trates on March and April 1918, when the Ger­mans launched their mas­sive of­fen­sive. Cameron as­sid­u­ously mar­shals de­tails of the crit­i­cal role the Aus­tralians played, while bal­anc­ing it with a keen sense of hu­man­ity. He also quotes Ger­man sources to give a fresh per­spec­tive. Those with a deep in­ter­est in mil­i­tary plan­ning will find much of this fas­ci­nat­ing, in­clud­ing the de­tailed maps. Sir John Monash’s im­por­tant role in the war’s res­o­lu­tion awaits in vol­ume two.

VER­DICT: Vivid NICK RICHARD­SON

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