Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

TOP READS OUR REVIEWERS ARE RAVING ABOUT

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TWO STEPS ONWARD Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist TEXT, RRP $32.99

This book reminds me of why I walk alone. In this sequel to the Two Steps Forward (2018), six people set off from Cluny, in France, to Rome on the pilgrims’ trails of the Chemin d’Assise and the Via Francigena, while the previous book was along the more familiar Camino de Santiago. The tale is told again in alternatin­g chapters by Zoe and Martin as they make their way through France, over the Alps and into Italy, ostensibly to allow Zoe’s friend Camille to find some sort of solace or salvation after being diagnosed with MS. The journey takes more than 60 days, covering more than 1610km, a long time for people with diverse reasons for taking the trip to be in such close contact. Parts of the book have useful informatio­n for those wanting to make the pilgrimage, but its main concern is how six characters can walk the same trail in search of different destinatio­ns.

BARRY REYNOLDS VERDICT: Tasty trail mix

OTHER WOMEN Cathy Kelly

ORION BOOKS, RRP $33

Three women feature in this clever, engaging and witty novel. Bea, still mourning the loss of the love of her life, Jean-Luc, throws all her energy into raising their son. Marin is harbouring a secret addiction to shopping that she cannot afford, to make herself feel better. Following a break-up, Sid has just begun her first friends-only relationsh­ip with Finn.

The Other Women traverses the realities of adult life. As we graduate into adulthood and life becomes more complex, friendship­s and all they give to us, can often be more important than ever before. Kelly expertly weaves the central theme of friendship throughout the fabric of her novel through the use of first person dialogue. Each character is believable and relatable, dealing with issues not uncommon in everyday lives: death, deceit, love, regret and triumph, and how it is our friendship­s that enable us to navigate these experience­s. Kelly also illustrate­s all is often not as it seems and sometimes we know little about the lives of those around us.

VITTORIA BON

VERDICT: A gripping, feel-good read

THE FRONTIERS OF KNOWLEDGE A.C. Grayling

VIKING, RRP $??

We know less than we think we do. In this ambitious and detailed look at the current state of human enquiry, Grayling explores the evolving research into history, science, and the human mind. In explaining what we know and what we don’t, Grayling begins by making distinctio­ns between knowledge, belief, and opinion. We espouse each based on evidence and it is in the area of interpreti­ng the evidence for all things where he has produced an unequalled body of work. He starts with science, or more correctly, technology, taking the reader back to examine the first stone tools. The book concludes by analysing neuroscien­ce, consciousn­ess and the cognitive brain. It can be heavy going at times, but The Frontiers of Knowledge is a landmark study of humanity at the dawn of the most challengin­g century of our brief time on this planet.

JEFF MAYNARD COMPELLING

VERDICT:

OLYMPUS, TEXAS Stacey Swann HACHETTE, $32.99

March Briscoe has returned to his tiny hometown from two years in exile for sleeping with his brother’s wife, Vera. But March is only the product of his upbringing. His own father has a family tree of illegitima­te children, including twins Arlo and Artie. March’s mother, June, turned the other cheek and welcomed the twins into the extended Briscoe family while marinating in her own bitterness. Country music singer Arlo is back in town too, to persuade his sister, Artie, to start managing him again. But Artie has a new lover and for once is determined not to drop everything for her twin. It may sound like a soap opera, and in some ways it is, but the Briscoe family saga has a deadly edge and an emotional depth that keeps it just this side of melodrama.

CLAIRE SUTHERLAND VERDICT: Atmospheri­c

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