Books I read in February.
- The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
This is not really a book I read in February–I started it in middish-January. It took me 11 days of solid reading to get through. I could have read 5 other books in the same time. But I so wanted to love this. It covers my favourite time period, late Victorian/Edwardian. It references William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, and I am a Pre-Raph Tragic. But there were simply far too many stretches of non-fiction, and not enough fairy tale.
2. The Delinquents by Criena Rohan #aww2017 ♥
I saw the film of this short novel when I was a teen and have been fascinated with bodgies and widgies ever since. The story resonates more now I live in Brisbane and have started to uncover the depths of police corruption that were emerging in the early 1960s. The story of young lovers Brownie and Lola sheds light on the underclass of strugglers on Welfare and the control of women’s bodies by men and state.
3. The Trapeze Act by Libby Angel #aww2017
Loretta Lord is a thirteen-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family. Her mother comes from a long line of Dutch circus folk, and her father from elephant-hunting explorers. Her mother acts increasingly erratic, her brother towards delinquency, and her father towards a mistress, as Loretta struggles to piece together the story of who she is. The narrative of how her parents met is interwoven with diary entries and letters of her explorer ancestors.
4. The Unfortunate Victim by Greg Pyers
A fresh angle on the murder mystery genre, being set in Daylesford, Victoria in 1864/5. We have the gruesome crime, the few days before the event, the aftermath and the bungled police investigation where local police find a suspect before any evidence. Then there is the court trial, after which the local photographer, troubled by a poor defence and biased prosecution, calls on his new acquaintance, Otto Berliner, an ex-policeman setting up his own private investigation company. Otto arrives in town and immediately conducts his own investigation before the wrong person is executed.
5. These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper
In one building in Paris, its residents simmer in their stories of loss–of children, family, independence, romantic love, employment, hope. Divided by more than just walls, when riots break out in Paris, the building’s residents’ lives interconnect with violent and sad consequences.
6. To the Sea by Christine Dibley #aww2017
At first a crime novel, this becomes something more intriguing and multilayered, drawing on selchie mythology and the form of family saga. I enjoyed so much of it. The sense of place at the edge of the wild sea off Tasmania is superbly evoked.
7. Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea by Marie Munkara #aww2017
Munkara discovered a link to her birth mother when she was 28, and this memoir follows her journey towards finding where she really belongs–brought up in a white family, but born into an Indigenous one. She says ‘not lost or stolen’, but the experiences she recounts are those of the stolen generations. Taken without her mother’s consent because she was too ‘fair’ to be brought up as white for her own good. But Munkara doesn’t make you feel sorry for her. She is frank without sentimentality about her identity and horrifying experiences.