488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct, Kitty Flanagan, Australia, 2019

488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct, Kitty Flanagan, Australia, 2019

This delightful book can be read cover to cover in one go, or else it can be spaced out between other books: either way it is worth reading. The 488 rules are either just plain common-sense or else slightly tongue-in-cheek, and the presentation (or is it just the fact that they have even been mentioned?) …

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The Searcher, Tana French, Ireland, 2020

The Searcher, Tana French, Ireland, 2020

Cal Hooper, a retired detective from Chicago, buys a run-down cottage in an isolated village in the west of Ireland. Divorced and not entirely at peace with himself he is hoping that the change of country and life-style will help him get his life back on track. While painting and renovating his cottage he soon …

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Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell, UK, 2020

Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell, UK, 2020

(Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020) Using a mixture of fact, surmise and fiction, O’Farrell has created a beautiful story ostensibly centred around William Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, but actually focused on Hamnet’s mother, Anne (or Agnes) Hathaway. Agnes is a country girl – a free spirit – with a close connection to nature; …

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The Weekend, Bernhard Schlink, Germany, 2008

The Weekend, Bernhard Schlink, Germany, 2008

Jörg has just been released from prison after twenty-four years. Involved with the Baader-Meinhof movement (a far-left group, which was part of the Red Army Faction) in the 1970s, Jörg was later convicted of murder and terrorist activities after an unknown person gave the authorities information as to his whereabouts. During his time in prison …

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain, USA, 2012

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain, USA, 2012

I had never heard of this book before I borrowed it from a friend, and I had no idea what to expect, though I later discovered that it had been a best seller when it was first published in 2012. Leaning somewhat towards the perspective that introverts are a tad better than extroverts (Cain admits …

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The Drover’s Wife, Leah Purcell, Australia, 2019

The Drover’s Wife, Leah Purcell, Australia, 2019

My understanding is that Leah Purcell wrote a very successful play called The Drover’s Wife (2016), in which she starred in the leading role. She then reworked the play into a novel, most probably adding a lot of extra background information. I have not seen the play, but I am aware that it has won …

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One Hundred Years of Dirt, Rick Morton, Australia, 2018

One Hundred Years of Dirt, Rick Morton, Australia, 2018

A book filled with anger, often justifiable, One Hundred Years of Dirt falls somewhere between memoir and social treatise. Descriptions of the abuse, meted out first by Morton’s grandfather, George, and later by Morton’s father, Rodney, are interspersed with statistics and much research information touching on a variety of areas, such as alcohol and drug …

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The Reader, Bernhard Schlink, Germany, 1995 (English translation 1997)

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink, Germany, 1995 (English translation 1997)

When fifteen-year-old Michael Berg inadvertently meets Hanna Schmitz (a tram conductress), who is twice his age, he falls madly in love with her. During the months that follow, while balancing schoolwork and the expectations of his family (who are unaware of the relationship), he regularly meets with Hanna at her flat. After seduction and sex, …

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Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, Stephen Fry, UK, 2017

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, Stephen Fry, UK, 2017

This is a book to be read several times. It is a goldmine of information about the Greek myths and everything else as well. It is also a treasure trove when it comes to the origins of many English words and phrases. When I first began reading Mythos, I felt as though I should have …

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An Unusual Boy, Fiona Higgins, Australia, 2020

An Unusual Boy, Fiona Higgins, Australia, 2020

As with most of Fiona’s books, An Unusual Boy grapples with a contemporary issue: in this case, sexual abuse of children by children. Despite the confronting theme, the book is actually a ‘feel-good’ book, where everything eventually works out for the better. The situation at the end of the book is decidedly better than it …

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