The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

guernsey.jpgTitle: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: Movie tie-in published 21st March 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 280

Price: $22.99

Synopsis:A celebration of literature, love, and the power of the human spirit, this warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining novel is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II and the writing project that will dramatically change her life. An international bestseller.

‘I can’t remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one. Treat yourself to this book, please–I can’t recommend it highly enough.’
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

The beloved, life-affirming international bestseller–now a major film coming in April 2018, starring Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton.

It’s 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer’s block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey–a total stranger living halfway across the Channel, who has come across her name written in a second-hand book–she enters into a correspondence with him, and in time with all the members of the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Through their letters, the society tell Juliet about life on the island, their love of books–and the long shadow cast by their time living under German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for the island, changing her life forever.

Gloriously honest, enchanting and funny, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is sure to win your heart.

~*~

This book came to me as a surprise from Allen and Unwin, and it being the shortest of the ones that arrived the other day, I decided to read it first and work my way through the others over the next week or so. And what a lovely surprise it was! Juliet Ashton is a writer who has writer’s block and is searching for her next story. Whilst searching, she is contacted by Dawsey Adams, a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society on one of the Channel Islands, who are emerging from years of occupation by German forces during World War Two. Dawsey’s letter begins the months of correspondence between the society and Juliet, and the novel is solely told in letters and telegrams. As Juliet begins to uncover a story in Guernsey and those who live there, she is courted by Markham Reynolds, and goes to the island to do research for her book, leaving Markham behind. As Juliet corresponds with the society members and her publishers, a picture of their life and what they have been through unfolds, with heart-warming results for many of the characters of the book.

The use of letters to tell the story was really quite effective because you got to know the characters and their voices, how they thought and what they enjoyed doing, and even though some questions or letters might not have had direct answers, the questions in them were given in other letters, ensuring that their stories were told. Within these stories was that of Elizabeth and her daughter Kit, and Markham Reynolds, who was keen on Juliet. I enjoyed the way these two plot points were dealt with, and that Juliet was of her own mind, and her own person – she was probably my favourite, next to Dawsey and Kit.

Key to the society is literature, and what it means to them. The literary society they created is what got them through the war, and what they survived on – potato peel pie, and what they did to try and keep the German forces at bay and survive. It is touching and at times sad when you read some of the letters, but it has the impact needed: showing what happened and how people dealt with it. A very touching testament to the power of the human spirit, and what people do in the face of adversity for themselves and each other.

The letters are peppered with literary references, and talk about books – the solace that they give, and what they meant to the society but also the Channel Island of Guernsey as a whole, as they endured things they never thought they would endure. Literature and their society pulled them through, showing the power of literature and how it can help people in hard times.

The novel is both peaceful and heartbreaking – the memories and aftershocks of the years of German occupation are not quickly forgotten, especially as someone who knew Elizabeth and knew of her fate comes into their lives, and the realities of what was happening on the European Continent hit home for the society members. There are hints of romance, but the focus is on Juliet and the society members, and their friendship and the family they have built for themselves and Kit, whose entertaining and intriguing character is revealed through the letters.

I really enjoyed this novel and read it quite quickly. It reflects on how war can affect a small community, and in this instance, bring them closer together as family, and the way they welcomed someone else into their family and society, where they could help each other heal as they emerged from an occupation during wartime and the implications of that, where their love of literature binds them together.

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Book Bingo Seven – A Book that everyone is talking about, and a book with non-human characters.

book bingo 2018

Week seven of the 2018 Book Bingo, and I’ve managed to mark off 20 of the 25 squares already! This week there are two squares to include in this post: a book that everyone is talking about, and a book with non-human characters.

monty the sad puppyFirst, my book with non-human characters is Monty the Sad Puppy, where the two key characters are dogs – 5 month old Labrador puppy, Monty, and the eight year old dachshund, Daisy. Sad and lonely, Monty feels cast aside with Daisy’s arrival, and both must adjust to being together. It is a charming story, full of cute dogs and funny moments, as well as moments that had me shaking my head at Monty, because he reminded me of the puppy we had years ago.

And my second book, a book that everyone is talking about – The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a powerful story of what the human spirit can endure, and how love came out of one of the darkest places in recent history. It is a story of triumph and pain, and what people in the camps had to do, and were forced into doing to survive one day at a time, and avoid the death carts, mass graves and gas chambers at all costs. It is moving and haunting, and as I said many times in my review, a book that should be read be all.The-Tattooist_FCR_Final

So there are now twenty squares marked off on my bingo card. I have five left, and I know there might be one or two that might be a little tricky to fill but there are some that shouldn’t be too hard to do, especially if there are lots of choices for me for that category.

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Book Bingo Six: A Book With a One-word title, a book published more than ten years ago. 

book bingo 2018.jpg

Only two books for today’s book bingo post – both of which fit into one of the categories I am filling today, and two more rows have a bingo – Row One Across:

Row #1 – – BINGO

 

A book set more than 100 years ago: Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham – AWW2018

A book written more than ten years ago: Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn – AWW2018

A memoir: Skin in the Game: The Pleasure and Pain of Telling True Stories by Sonya Voumard

A book more than 500 pages: Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French – AWW2018

A Foreign translated novel: Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutschner (translated by Niall Seller)

And Row Two down.

Row #2 – BINGO

 

A book written more than ten years ago: Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn – AWW2018

A book by an author you’ve never read before: The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge by Kali Napier – AWW2018

A book written by an Australian man: The Opal Dragonfly by Julian Leatherdale

A book with a one-word title:Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn – AWW2018, Munmun by Jesse Andrews

A book based on a true story: Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

The first square that I filled for this week is a book with a one-word title, and there happened to be two books that filled this square, with one of them filling the other completed square. First, Munmun by American author, Jesse Andrews, a new release book where, in a satirical world based on America, your height is related to your wealth, and where littlepoors struggle to climb up the wealth ladder whilst being blamed for their standing in the society – a reflection on how society treats the vulnerable today. I reviewed it several weeks ago on the blog, and wasn’t overwhelmed by it, though the premise was interesting and there were times that the execution worked well, though I still found some aspects could have been reworked to have a similar effect.

AWW-2018-badge-rose

Second is an old favourite, Thunderwith, which fits two squares this week. I first encountered this book in 1998 and still have the same copy that has been sitting on my shelf for twenty years. I’ve been trying to fill each square with at least one book, but this square had so many options, I felt that at least two would work. I also entered Thunderwith into the published more than ten years ago square – it was published twenty-eight years ago in 1990. Lara’s story has layers of emotion that many can relate to, and is set in the Australian bush, in an area a few hours north of me, so reading the familiar names of places I have visited is always enjoyable. I’ve reviewed it here.

So that’s my sixth book bingo of the year, and I’m off to see how Mrs B and Theresa Smith are doing with theirs!

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Australian Book Industry Awards Longlist 2018

The ABIA Longlist has also been announced today for 2018, and celebrates the diversity and quality of Australian writing, publishing and bookselling. The ABIA Academy – a group of booksellers, agents, media and industry representatives – voted for the longlist, and the 2018 campaign was long and exhaustive, resulting in this year’s academy having 250 members.

A shortlist will be announced of the nineteenth of April, and the winners announced at the ABIA Awards on the 3rd of May, at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The ABIA awards have been sponsored by: The Australian Women’s Weekly, JC Decaux, Media Super, Audible, Opus, Booktopia, Curtis Brown, Ingram, Nielsen Bookscan, Leading Edge Books, Simpsons Solicitors, John Fisher Printing, and industry partners, ABA, ALIA, APA, ASA, BorrowBox, The Copyright Agency, Books + Publishing and the Children’s Book Council.

The award has twelve categories, and below are the long-lists for each category:

BioAbia2018

Biography Book of the Year

  • A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work, Bernadette Brennan (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Danger Music, Eddie Ayres (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, Judith Brett (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Tracker, Alexis Wright (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)
  • Unbreakable, Jelena Dokic and Jess Halloran (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Unmasked, Turia Pitt (Ebury Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Wednesdays with Bob, Derek Rielly and Bob Hawke (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia,)
  • Working Class Man, Jimmy Barnes (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)

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General Fiction Book of the Year

  • Force of Nature, Jane Harper (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • On the Java Ridge, Jock Serong (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl from Munich, Tania Blanchard (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Inaugural Meeting Of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club, Sophie Green (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Secrets She Keeps, Michael Robotham (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • The Tea Gardens, Fiona McIntosh (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Trip of A Lifetime, Monica McInerney (Michael Joseph Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)

GENERAL-NON-FICTION-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-Copyright-Agency-Square

General Non-fiction Book of the Year

  • Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness, Kate Cole-Adams (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Being 14,Madonna King (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Depends What You Mean By Extremist, John Safran (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, Sarah Wilson (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Not Just Lucky, Jamila Rizvi (Viking Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Saga Land, Richard Fidler and Kári Gíslason (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Taming Toxic People, David Gillespie (Macmillan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Harbour: A City’s Heart, A Country’s Soul, Scott Bevan (Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)

ABIA2018_Illustrated

Illustrated Book of the Year

  • Basics to Brilliance Kids, Donna Hay (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Cornersmith: Salads and Pickles, Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Hummus and Co, Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (Murdoch Books, Murdoch Books)
  • Maggie’s Recipe for Life, Maggie Beer and Professor Ralph Martins (A Julie Gibbs Book for Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Native: Art and Design with Australian Plants, Kate Herd and Jela Ivankovic-Waters (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Ostro, Julia Busuttil Nishimura (Plum, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Paris: Through a Fashion Eye, Megan Hess (Hardie Grant Books, Hardie Grant Publishing)
  • The Vegetable, Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis (Smith Street Books, Smith Street Books)

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International Book of the Year

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli and Francesa Cavallo (Particular Books -UK Juvenile, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth, Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Mythos, Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph – UK, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Sun and her Flowers, Rupi Kaur (Simon & Schuster UK, Simon & Schuster UK)

LITERARY-FICTION-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-longlist-SQUARE

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

  • A Long Way Home, Peter Carey (Hamish Hamilton Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Australia Day, Melanie Cheng (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • First Person, Richard Flanagan (Knopf Australia, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt (Hachette, Hachette Australia)
  • Taboo, Kim Scott (Picador Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • The Choke, Sofie Laguna (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Life to Come, Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Wimmera, Mark Brandi (Hachette, Hachette Australia)

SMALL-PUBLISHERS-ADULT-BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR-SQUARE

Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year

  • Atlantic Black, A. S. Patric (Transit Lounge, Transit Lounge)
  • Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture – A New Earth, Charles Massy (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Cardinal, Louise Milligan (Melbourne University Press, Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Journeys into the Wild: The Photography of Peter Dombrovskis, Introduction & Commentary by Bob Brown (NLA Publishing, National Library of Australia)
  • The Australian Bird Guide, Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin (CSIRO Publishing, CSIRO Publishing)
  • The Restorer, Michael Sala (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Museum of Words, Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications, Scribe Publications)
  • Mirror Sydney, Vanessa Berry (Giramondo Publishing, Giramondo Publishing Company)

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Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year

  • At the Beach I See, Kamsani Bin Salleh (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • At the Zoo I See, Joshua Button and Robyn Wells (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Big Fella Rain, Beryl Webber and illustrated by Fern Martins (Magabala Books, Magabala Books)
  • Hello, Melbourne!, Megan McKean (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do, Josh Langley (Big Sky Publishing, Big Sky Publishing)
  • The Elephant, Peter Carnavas (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)
  • Slow Down, World, Tai Snaith (Thames & Hudson Australia, Thames & Hudson Australia)
  • Under the Love Umbrella, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble Kids’ Books, Scribe Publications)

THE-MATT-RICHELL-AWARD-FOR-NEW-WRITER-OF-THE-YEAR-Simpsons-WIDE-Square

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year

BOTY_OlderChildrenlonglist-SQUARE

Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)

  • Beautiful Mess, Claire Christian (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Frogkisser!,Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • My Life as a Hashtag, Gabrielle Williams (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Take Three Girls, Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Tales From a Tall Forest, Shaun Micallef and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Silent Invasion, James Bradley (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Untidy Towns, Kate O’Donnell (The University of Queensland Press, The University of Queensland Press)

Younger-Children-square

Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12)

  • Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase, Peter Helliar and illustrated by Lesley Vamos (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • Funny Kid for President, Matt Stanton (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Maybe, Morris Gleitzman (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Nevermoor, Jessica Townsend (Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia)
  • Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, Sally Rippin (Hardie Grant Egmont, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • The Bad Guys Episode 6, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome, Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The 91-Storey Treehouse, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia)

PICTURE-BOOK-longlist-Square

Children’s Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)

  • Do Not Lick This Book, Idan Ben-Barak and illustrated by Julian Frost (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Florette, Anna Walker (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • I Just Ate My Friend, Heidi McKinnon (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • I’m Australian Too, Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Mopoke, Philip Bunting (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • Pig the Star, Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)
  • No One Likes a Fart, Zoë Foster Blake (Viking – AU YR, Penguin Random House Australia)
  • The Bum Book, Kate Mayes and illustrated by Andrew Joyner (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Very Noisy Baby, Alison Lester (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)

Some books have been nominated for several other prxizes, and I would not be surprised if Nevermoor takes out Book of the Year for Younger Children. There are a few on these lists I have read, and several more I am planning on reading. I look forward to future announcements for this prize.

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Stella Prize Shortlist

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The announcement of the 2018 shortlist for the annual Stella Prize happened today, on International Women’s Day. From a long-list of twelve, six have made the shortlist, and it is a diverse, eclectic and powerful selection of the voices of Australian women. The importance of this, at a time when women’s voices are demanding to be heard in all spheres is important: the diversity in these books should be interesting, and I have at least two on my to read list, and one on my read list. Of the others, I am yet to decide if I will add them to my growing to be read lists and piles, as they look just as interesting as the ones I have chosen to read.

This year’s shortlisted books and authors are diverse and relevant and show the breadth of writing by Australian women. The themes in the books are about family, politics, identity and what has been, and what might come. The diversity of these stories is what gives them their power.

Shortlist:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

 Shokoofeh-Azar_The-Englightenment-of-the-Greengage-Tree_Low-Res-from-Website-670x1024.jpg

This book is an extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people. Azar is the consummate storyteller, using the panoply of Persian mythical and mystical entities to bring life, humour, hope, resignation, and profound insights to the characters and their world.

Terra Nullis by Clare G. Coleman

terra nulliusJacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.

The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.

This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history. This TERRA NULLIUS is something new, but all too familiar.

This is an incredible debut from a striking new Australian Aboriginal voice.

The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester

 

Michelle-de-Kretser_The-Life-to-Come-669x1024.jpgSet in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.

Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

Profoundly moving as well as wickedly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.

 

 

An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

 

Krissy-Kneen_An-Uncertain-Grace_High-Res-669x1024.jpgSome time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience. What was for him an erotic interlude, resonant with the thrill of seduction, was very different for her—and when he has lived it, he will understand how.

Later…

A convicted paedophile recruited to Liv’s experiment in collective consciousness discovers a way to escape from his own desolation.

A synthetic boy, designed by Liv’s team to ‘love’ men who desire adolescents, begins to question the terms of his existence.

L, in transition to a state beyond gender, befriends Liv, in transition to a state beyond age.

Liv herself has finally transcended the corporeal—but there is still the problem of love.

An Uncertain Grace is a novel in five parts by one of Australia’s most inventive and provocative writers. Moving, thoughtful, sometimes playful, it is about who we are—our best and worst selves, our innermost selves—and who we might become.

 

The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi-Riwoe_The-Fish-Girl.jpgSparked by the description of a ‘Malay trollope’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, ‘The Four Dutchmen’, The Fish Girl tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.

Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.

 

Tracker by Alexis Wright

Tracker-by-Alexis-Wright_from-Giramondo-665x1024.jpg 

Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth, who died in Darwin in 2015 at the age of 62.

Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council of the Northern Territory.

Tracker was a visionary, a strategist and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his determination to tell things the way he saw them. Having known him for many years, Alexis Wright interviewed Tracker, along with family, friends, colleagues, and the politicians he influenced, weaving his and their stories together in a manner reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize–winning author Svetlana Alexievich. The book is as much a testament to the powerful role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of an extraordinary man.

I look forward to hearing which of these books wins in April. Reading about them, I think the judges have a very tough decision to make.

 

Booktopia

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

tin man.jpgTitle: Tin Man

Author: Sarah Winman

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Tinder Press

Published: 1st March 2018 (25th July 2017 earlier edition)

Format: Paperback

Pages: 197

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: The unforgettable and achingly tender new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT and the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 COSTA NOVEL AWARD

The beautiful and heartbreaking new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT.

‘Her best novel to date’ Observer
‘An exquisitely crafted tale of love and loss’ Guardian
‘A marvel’ Sunday Express
‘Astoundingly beautiful’ Matt Haig

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

TIN MAN sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT and A YEAR OF MARVELOUS WAYS with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.

~*~

Ellis and Michael have been friends for as long as they can remember, a life time of friendship, of mutual respect and a desire to support each other, ad remain close to each other. Theirs is a friendship that blossoms into a little something more, until they are caught – but their friendship remains intact, and Michael will always love Ellis in a variety of ways. Then, one day, Annie, a book lover, comes into their lives, and the bonds of friendship, love, trust and respect grow. Until tragedies strike the group, all three of them, and so their touching story of acceptance and tragedy is told, first through the eyes of Ellis, then a letter from Michael, explaining things, revealing his true feelings and finally, Ellis closes the story. It is an ending of realism, where the unavoidable and unpredictable comes to light and worlds are shattered, and where the story has hope and friendship, the ending shows that nothing in life is promised, that nobody is immune from the tragedies of life.

It is a story of love, but not just romantic love. The love Ellis, Annie and Michael have for each other as friends, and as the family they’ve created, is just as strong and just as important. They worry for each other, they respect each other, they would do anything for each other.

Sarah Winman has sensitively dealt with issues surrounding HIV, and LGBTQI+ representation with Michael, and the battles he would have faced during childhood and adulthood, with a sad end to his story, yet at the same time, realistic as he explores who he is, and his place in the world.

What I liked about the romantic elements in this novel was that they were realistic. Representations of unrequited love – for anyone – often seem rare in literature. For Michael, not being able to love Ellis as he marries Annie, is hard, but he still has their love as friends. I think this was important to show all these aspects of love as it made the characters more believable and relatable.

At the heart of the book is Annie, who brings Michael and Ellis back together, years after the two young men had an affair together and were ripped apart by families and a society that didn’t accept that behaviour. I loved that Annie did – she allowed them to be who they were, and her acceptance and encouragement was very touching. At the same time, Ellis has to come to terms with time lost with Michael, with Annie and acceptance and letting go – I felt this was more of the focus than the romance, and perhaps why it made the story so powerful – it showed that love isn’t the perfect kind we see in movies all the time, that life isn’t perfect, and at the intersections of life and love, things can get very messy, very painful and very unpredictable. Ellis didn’t choose to fall for Annie and Michael – he simply did. This aspect is at the same time simple and complex – that he simply did shows how feelings just happen, whilst the complexities of how he dealt with this were subtler but gave the story the gravitas and emotion it needed.

Though their lives are tinged with tragedy, the story is still hopeful and positive. People can move on and find acceptance, and those who resisted once can accept difference where they might not have before. It is the story of a generation who lived vastly different lives in a post-war period, were convention and tradition were at the forefront, and any deviance from it was punished and disrespected.  Evoking these emotions has created a strength of narrative and character that will hopefully mean these stories are remembered,

I enjoyed this touching story, and I hope others will too.

Sarah appeared at the Adelaide Writer’s Festival this morning, the 5th of March at 9.30AM.

Booktopia

Book Bingo Four: A book more than 500 pages, a book with themes of culture, and a book with a mystery.

 

 

AWW-2018-badge-roseIn my fourth book bingo, I have three books to include and link back to. At this stage, I have almost completed the fifth column on the square, with the final square needing a foreign translated book – yet to be decided. The others are all a little bit spaced out randomly at this stage, but for the most part, shouldn’t be too hard to fill. Whilst I was aiming to fill all of the squares with Australian women authors, with the exception of the translated novel and a novel by an Australian man, I have decided to fill them with what fits with any book as I read them.

Miss Lily 1So, for this week, I have three to report on. There is one that I have known will fit since signing up to this challenge, so let’s start there – A book with more than 500 pages. There are a few that fit into this category, but I chose Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French for this square. Set during the turbulent years of the First World War, Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies is the story of Sophie Higgs, an Australian from a wealthy family, learning ways of engaging men and the upper class of pre-war British society, a society that will come to change in the years of war that will soon plague Europe and the world. As with many of Jackie’s books, it tells the lesser known history, the stories of women – in all walks of life –  whose stories have been overlooked when recording history. It is a touching and emotional story full of ups and downs and gut punches that you don’t see coming, yet they work with the story, and the theme of the untold of casualties of war.

sealwomanAt the end of the second, is a book with themes of culture – The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson. The Sealwoman’s Gift tells the story of Icelanders taken into slavery by Barbary pirates in 1627, ripped away from what they know and transplanted – as all slaves were – into an alien culture where they are forced to adapt and assimilate. Ásta, the main character, struggles with her old identity and her new one, and the forced separation of her family. From Iceland to Algiers and back to Iceland, the differing cultures are referred to, and the uniting feature of story-telling of cultures shines through.

OLMEC_B_SMLFinally, my third square for this week is the fifteenth square, a book with a mystery. For this one, I read Olmec Obituary by L.J.M. Owen, the first in the Dr Elizabeth Pimms series. It has a mystery – an ancient mystery. It’s cases so cold, only a trained archaeologist-cum-librarian can solve them. It is an excellent book with mysterious colleagues who show nothing but hatred, family secrets and ancient mysteries, where people want to cover up the truth. It is a great start to the series, and though the ending leaves a few unanswered questions, I am hoping these will be picked up throughout the series. The main character is well established, and it is a decent read with a good pace that keeps things interesting, going back and forth to build the mystery of the past and finally reveal what happened.

As I go through this book bingo, I am marking the squares off that are easily completed first or that are fairly broad and open, and leaving the more challenging ones for now, until I come across something that fits them.

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Booktopia