Category: Book Reviews

Hägring 38 (The Wednesday Club) by Kjell Westö, Finland, 2013

Hägring 38 (The Wednesday Club) by Kjell Westö, Finland, 2013

I loved this book, which is beautifully written, sad, thought-provoking, intelligent and, at all times immediate. At times I felt that the Finnish/Swedish-speaking Westö must have ‘been there’ and that he must have experienced everything about which he was writing, but the book, set in 1938, was actually written in 2013.   The central ‘character’ …

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Saga Land by Richard Fidler and Kári Gíslason, Australia, 2017

Saga Land by Richard Fidler and Kári Gíslason, Australia, 2017

This is a delightful book that combines a bit of everything: historical fact, personal biography and fantastic sagas or stories. Richard Fidler is an Australian radio commentator with the ABC while Kári Gíslason, who is part Icelandic, is a lecturer and a writer based in Brisbane, Australia. The two met when Richard interviewed Kári about …

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, Australia, 2017

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, Australia, 2017

Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.   See What I Have Done is yet another story about the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in Massachusetts in 1892. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was charged and gaoled but was …

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The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, France, 2014

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, France, 2014

At barely 200 pages, this delightful book is more like a novella than a novel. The main character, Guylain Vignolles, whose name, unfortunately, can be easily linked to Vilain Guignol (ugly puppet), works at a recycling factory. His job is to manage the monstrous machine that beats, cuts and drowns second-hand books (and even new …

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Fearless by Fiona Higgins, Australia, 2016

Fearless by Fiona Higgins, Australia, 2016

Fearless, set in Bali, is an exciting story held together by many interesting pieces of information about Indonesia – an exotic and, at times, unusual background against which the characters, a mixture of Indonesians, Javanese, Australians, Europeans and one American, play out their designated parts.   Fearless itself is the name of a course run …

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The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates, USA, 2016

The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates, USA, 2016

This is a sad and, at times, frustrating book. At the centre is the man without a shadow – Elihu Hoopes (known as Eli) – who, after contracting a nasty viral infection while hiking on his own, has lost the ability to form new memories. The virus has damaged the hippocampus, and although Eli can …

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Blindness by José Saramago, Portugal, 1995

Blindness by José Saramago, Portugal, 1995

Without any prior symptoms and without warning, one person, stopping in his car at a red light, goes blind. A good Samaritan (who turns out to be a thief) helps him and he too goes blind. The first blind man’s wife takes him to an ophthalmologist, who also goes blind. More and more people go …

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Lunatics in Unmarked Graves by Susan Hollingworth, Australia, 2018

Lunatics in Unmarked Graves by Susan Hollingworth, Australia, 2018

This non-fiction book is a treasure trove of information and an important addition to those books dealing with the early years of Australian colonization. The aptly titled Lunatics in Unmarked Graves deals with some of the people who were incarcerated in the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, between the years of its opening (1867) and 1884. …

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A Perfect Marriage by Alison Booth, Australia, 2018

A Perfect Marriage by Alison Booth, Australia, 2018

A book about domestic violence where the violence itself is not centre-stage. Alternating between Then and Now, A Perfect Marriage lines up a number of unordered images of Sally’s marriage to Jeff and a similar number of images post-Jeff. Central to Sally’s two lives is Sally and Jeff’s daughter, Charlie. Sally, a biologist based at …

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy, USA, 2006

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, USA, 2006

Although nothing is stated directly it is obvious that someone, somewhere, pressed that button and the world was thrown into a nuclear catastrophe. The novel begins about ten years after the event when the few survivors are trying to eke out an existence in a world where everything is dead and the surface is covered …

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