Posted in Chick Lit, Fiction, Robyn Harding

her pretty face by Robyn Harding

‘Frances Metcalfe was not the type of woman who enjoyed large parties, especially large parties where you had to dress up in a costume.  Given the choice, she would have stayed home and pierced her own nipples with dull knitting needles, but fund-raisers for Forrester Academy were not optional.  Despite the thirty-thousand-dollar tuition fee, the elite private school’s coffers needed regular infusions of cash.’

her pretty face by Robyn Harding
her pretty face

The opening made me giggle and there were other times when I giggled, but this book is not a comedy.

Frances doesn’t have any friends.  She has a child with difficulties and his behaviour at his elite private school has made it even more problematic.

Her only friend is Kate Randolph, a knight in shining armour.  Her friend not only gives Frances confidence, Kate’s son Charles helps France’s son, Marcus become less a social pariah.

So everything is ticking along nicely, and of course this is when the wheels start to come off.

Both Frances and Kate have dark pasts, some darker than others.

As the past comes to light this friendship unravels and questions as to whether it can continue are raised.  Ethical issues are raised and the reader begins to question whether they would remain friends with the information that is brought to light.

This was an easy read and I would classify it in the chick lit genre.  While an easy read I did not particularly like this book.  It was a little bit too contrived and I’m not a big fan of chick lit.

A theme of 'her pretty face'
Friendship

If you are looking for an easy, quick read then this is the book for you.

Details:

Author:   Robyn Harding

Genre:  Chick Lit

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2018

My rating (out of 5):

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Posted in Australian, Fiction, Miles Franklin Award, Sofie Laguna

The Choke by Sofie Laguna

‘Kirk turned his slingshot over in his hand.  ‘This thing is going to hurt, Justine.’

Sofie Laguna's novel The Choke
The Choke

And wasn’t that the truth. The whole book and story was going to hurt, Justine.

I picked this book up in my bookshop not knowing a thing about it except that it won the Miles Franklin Literary Award. I like to read the winners of the Awards, like the Miles Franklin and Man Booker.  If I can I try and read a couple of the short lists.

Sometimes I’m let down by the winner, but not this year.  This book was truly deserving of the win and one of my favourites for 2018.

When I picked up this book I thought it might be something controversial like ‘The Slap’.

Well it was controversial – just nothing like ‘The Slap’.

Justine is a true underdog, no mother and is cared for by her grandfather, Pop who tries his best with limited skills.  Her siblings are, quite frankly sociopaths and Justine’s tormentors. She has limited school and financial means.  She has limited friends or support.

Her father makes an appearance, and you by the end of that visit wish he never bothered as he was far too much trouble than it was worth.

‘The Choke’ is a place, where the Murray River narrows so that the banks are almost touching.  This is one of Justine’s only safe place along with her father’s chooks.   And for most of the novel this is all that she has and this is also eventually taken away.

Place of 'The Choke'
The Murray River Basin

The story of Justine is haunting. Its almost like watching the train on a collision course and there is nothing you can do.  You want to shout at Justine to watch out, to get off the course she is on.  You can see where it will (and is going) and nothing is going to stop it.

The interesting thing is even though the train collision and aftermath is pretty disturbing, its outcome is the only thing that give Justine her life. It turns out to almost be her saviour.

I speak vaguely about the plot because to do otherwise would spoil it for the reader but I cannot speak more highly of this novel.

Details:

Author: Sofie Laguna

Genre:  Australian fiction

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2017

My rating (out of 5):

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Posted in Australian, Crime & Thrillers, Fiction, Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man, Jane Harper's third fiction novel is not one to miss.
Book Review of Jane Harper’s third novel, The Lost Man.

“From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle.  The circle was far from perfect, with a distorted edge that grew thick, then thin and broke completely in places.  It also wasn’t empty.”

Having read this book over a hot Australian summer day (and thoroughly enjoyed it), I ponder the title.

‘The Lost Man’, the third of Ms Harper’s books begins with the death of Cameron in the Australian outback.  It appears that he was lost when he died.  As the story progresses, however you realise he was lost in a number of other ways.

And he was not the only one.

To me this was a crime fiction but also a story of a family at Christmas, with all its dysfunction (sounds perfectly familiar) .  Throw a death in the mix and it brings to the surface all the secrets, problems, desires and wishes of the family members.

There is Nathan, the eldest, and really the most lost – divorced, trying to eek a living from an unforgiving land and repairing a relationship with his teenage son, in the midst of social isolation for one unforgivable mistake.

Bub, the youngest of the brothers is trying to find his place in the world – out under a now deceased father and a now deceased older brother, Cameron.

The Lost Man, set in the Australian outback
Unforgiving Australian outback

Ilse, Cameron’s widow is trying to navigate his death, with all the complex and often contradictory feelings that has elicited.  Not to mention care and protect her young girls.

And last, but no means least, the family matriarch – Liz – the one in the background, who has and continues to endure the harshest of environments.

In true Jane Harper style you are not sure where the story is leading, often thinking you have a grip on it to it only twist and turn away.

I couldn’t put this book down and burned through it in a day.  It didn’t leave me wanting more of this story, having ended the way it should but it did leave me wanting more Jane Harper.

Details:

Author:  Jane Harper

Genre:  Australian Crime fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018

My rating (out of 5):

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Have you read it? What were your thoughts?  I would love to know!