Book review: Stone Yard Devotional by Charlotte Wood

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 Permalink

Stone Yard Devotional by Charlotte Wood is yet another stunning piece of prose from this masterful writer. Her writing is superb. Splendid. Beautiful. And Wood is an excellent storyteller. The strangest thing for me about this book however is that I was waiting to understand what the book was about. Unlike The Natural Way of Things, I didn’t think it was a huge metaphor that eluded me, rather I kinda understood it was about a middle-aged woman undergoing a crisis of identity. Not a mid-life crisis, but one in which she’s questioning her purpose. There’s a part early in the novel where she talks about the nuns constantly interrupting their work each day to attend services in the church. But then realises that IS their work. I think I felt the same way about this book. I was waiting for the story arc to kick in amidst the quiet reverie of life at the retreat and memories of our narrator’s past. But it never did. Her contemplation – of the past and present IS the story.

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four-stars

Book review: The Watchful Wife by Suzanne Leal

Friday, July 7, 2023 Permalink

The Watchful Wife is the latest new release by Australian author Suzanne Leal. She tends to tackle complex social themes in her novels, touching here again on some featured in her first novel, The Teacher’s Secret – around the education system and allegations of misconduct – and that of religion, which featured in her second novel Deceptions. I very much enjoyed this book which takes on the sensitive topic of sexual misconduct but predominantly from the point of view of the wife of a man accused.

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four-stars

Book review: Feast by Emily O’Grady

Friday, June 2, 2023 Permalink

The Yellow House, the debut novel by Emily O’Grady was one of my favourite books of 2018. I adore child narrators if they’re done well and O’Grady was able to bring that balance of innocence and knowing to our 11 year old storyteller. I obviously wasn’t alone in my love for her work as the book won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award that year.

Her latest novel Feast is quite different. It (also) features a dysfunctional family and explores family and relationships, but felt darker… offering less hope and redemption.

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four-stars

Book review: Loveland by Robert Lukins

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 Permalink

Loveland is the first book I’ve read by Robert Lukins so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Something terribly literary or esoteric I suspect as I know he writes for a number of literary magazines and journals here in Australia.

As it happened I did not flounder about in a state of bewildered confusion. I absolutely adore/d Lukins’s writing. His ability to craft phrases and sentences in a way that they offer so much more than what’s on the page is extraordinary. And far from an unfathomable metaphor I was unable to unravel, Loveland is a very enjoyable novel. About real people and only on a couple of occasions and at the very end did it dip into something possibly beyond my very literal comprehension.

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four-half-stars

Book review: Happy Hour by Jacquie Byron

Friday, November 26, 2021 Permalink

Happy Hour by Jacquie Byron was a delightful surprise. It very much reminded me of other books I’ve loved, The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock, Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray and  Saving Missy by Beth Morrey.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m ageing, but I appreciate books about older women (or men) and it’s a reminder that lives can be just as happy or messy or uncertain no matter whether you’re 20 or 70.

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four-stars

Book review: The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

Sunday, August 16, 2020 Permalink

I didn’t get The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle for review but was hearing a lot about it so borrowed it from a friend. Everyone seemed to find it twisty and had a desire to talk about it after they finished. That’s usually a good sign as it might mean you think you know how it ended but are not quite sure. Of course it’s hard for authors to achieve that balance between…. “WTF just happened?” leaving readers confused with too many unanswered questions; and tying everything up neatly with a bow.

This debut novel by New Zealand author Carlyle was probably a tad more predictable than I had anticipated (given the hype). You know what’s ultimately coming but not how, but it’s certainly enjoyable nonetheless.

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four-stars