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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The Philosopher’s Daughters, Alison Booth, Australia, 2020

The Philosopher’s Daughters, Alison Booth, Australia, 2020

Centred around the unfortunate reality of inequality, The Philosopher’s Daughters is set at the end of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the conservative security of middle-class London, the story quickly spreads to the insecurity and the boundlessness of Australia. Life in Australia does not erase problems with equality – indeed, it manages to introduce more …

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The Only Story, Julian Barnes, UK, 2018

The Only Story, Julian Barnes, UK, 2018

Many, hearing of a relationship between a man of twenty and a woman of fifty, would raise their combined eyebrow and, citing moral, ethical or even cultural reasons, would most probably denounce the relationship. However, should the relationship be between a man of fifty and a woman of twenty, there would be a few who …

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Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart, UK, 2020

Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart, UK, 2020

Raw, real, depressing and beautifully written, Shuggie Bain, centres on a working-class family in Glasgow between the early 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. It is an unedited picture of poverty and alcohol abuse, showing how the two things fuse together to eventually both direct and change people’s lives. Many of the people filling …

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Analfabeten som kunde räkna (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden), Jonas Jonasson, Sweden, 2013

Analfabeten som kunde räkna (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden), Jonas Jonasson, Sweden, 2013

Like Jonas Jonasson’s Hundråringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) this is a delightful, totally impossible, story that manages to tie together South Africa, China, Israel and Sweden around the main character, Nombeko Mayeki. Nombeko begins life in one of the slums of Soweto …

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The Wife and the Widow, Christian White, Australia, 2020

The Wife and the Widow, Christian White, Australia, 2020

This tale of intrigue, lies and murder is a good lightweight read, a book to pick up in between more serious books, or a book to read when entertainment is looked for more than reality. Reality is definitely not one of the book’s main priorities. Not wanting to ruin the story, I will skip the …

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The Humans, Matt Haig, UK, 2013

The Humans, Matt Haig, UK, 2013

‘… it takes time to understand humans because they don’t understand themselves. They have been wearing clothes for so long. Metaphorical clothes. (…) That was the price of human civilisation – to create it they had to close the door on their true selves.’ (Page 130). The ‘I’ of the book is an alien. He …

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The Martian by Andy Weir, USA, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir, USA, 2014

This is a fictional account of an astronaut’s fight for survival after being caught up in a powerful dust storm on Mars. The crew of the Ares 3 mission, believing him to be dead and having no other option, is forced to leave Mars without him. Of course he does not die (otherwise there would …

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Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, UK, 2001

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, UK, 2001

I was given this book to read by a friend, and I opened it not having the slightest idea what it was about. I was pleasantly surprised. They say that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ times to do certain things; I also feel that there are probably ‘right’ and ‘less right’ times to read certain …

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