The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Australia, 2005

The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Australia, 2005

This is a beautiful book, intelligently written. Grenville’s wonderful attention to detail results in a myriad of small word paintings, each of which add yet another layer to our understanding of both early nineteenth-century London and Sydney. Not only can we see the sights, we can also smell the smells and feel the textures. We …

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Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, USA, 2009

Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, USA, 2009

  This is a true story about one of the twentieth century’s biggest and boldest art frauds. Although factual, it reads like a thriller, is well written and is definitely to be recommended. John Drewe, with a number of aliases from John Cockett to Mr Carnall, is debonair, intelligent and well-spoken; he is also a …

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, USA, 2009

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, USA, 2009

  The very first chapter makes it obvious that this is going to be a confronting book. It is the twenty-first century, and we learn that three people were brutally murdered twenty-five years previously in a small farmhouse in Kansas in the 1980s and that the fifteen-year-old son, Ben, was charged with their murders. The …

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The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum, USA, 1986

The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum, USA, 1986

  This is the second of the three books in the Bourne series, and like the first book, The Bourne Identity, it is gripping for all of its almost 700 pages. David Webb alias Jason Bourne alias Delta alias Cain is unwillingly pulled into a complicated and deadly fight against a Chinese megalomaniac whose eyes …

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling, UK, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling, UK, 2008

  This short work, comprising five tales for children, assumes some acquaintance with the Harry Potter books by the same author. Characters from these books are referred to in the tales, and it is assumed that the reader has already made their acquaintance. Moreover, each tale includes a critique by Professor Albus Dumbledore, who was …

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Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, Australia, 1988

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, Australia, 1988

  An unusual and beautiful book about life and love and the things that spur us on to do the things we do; it is also a book about the part that chance plays in our lives. In mid-nineteenth century England, Oscar, acting on his own interpretation of signs, presents himself at the cold, inhospitable …

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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, USA, 2002

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, USA, 2002

  Set against a background of America’s south in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees is a wonderful piece of feminist literature. The strongest characters in the book are women, and it is the women who remain with us long after we have turned the last page. The main character is Lily, a fourteen-year-old white …

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Korea, 2007

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Korea, 2007

    When I began this short and beautifully written novel, where strange blood-thirsty dreams are intertwined with mundane, domestic interactions, I thought that it may have been about the central character’s, Yeong-hye, attempts to free herself from the male-dominated society in which she lives. Her decision to stop eating meat was, for me, a …

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The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, USA, 1980

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, USA, 1980

  A man washed up on the coast of the Mediterranean is not only frightfully wounded but is also suffering from amnesia. He cannot remember why he is where he is, and he cannot remember who he is. Over the next 500-plus pages, the man slowly remembers snippets of his past while all around him …

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