Top 10: Fiction

  1. The High Places, Fiona McFarlane
  2. At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier
  3. Brooklyn, Colm Toibin
  4. The Whites, Richard Price
  5. Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg
  6. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  7. Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
  8. My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
  9. The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende
  10. The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood
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Samantha Wheeler’s Shelf-Talkers

sam wheeler

An avid Tim Winton fan, I began my holiday reading with his passionate memoir, Island Home. His evocative prose, describing the beauty and power of Australian place, was a luxurious holiday treat. What stayed with me the most was Winton’s sadness over the exploitation of our land, his despair over its degradation. As a fellow lover of Australian landscape and wildlife, I admired his call to arms, encouraging us all to care for our country, as our country defines us. An unexpected gem was discovering Winton’s journey to publication, and the pitfalls his unique writing style created. Island Home is a must, and I will certainly be reading it again.

island home

The next book on my list also, in a strange way, involved nature. Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things was both thrilling and terrifying. Whereas I had difficulty picturing the women in The Handmaid’s Tale, I had no such trouble with Wood’s unflinching prose. Every breath, every drop of sweat is horribly plausible. Set in outback Australia, somewhere, a bunch of women with a thread of similarity are held captive for no clear reason. The interaction between them is fascinating, the plot compelling and the ending perfect. I would definitely recommend it.

natural

Kate Morton is up high on my list of favourites, and I’m always thrilled when a new book of hers comes out. Each time, I tell myself I will savour it, but then I can’t stop reading, and I’m sad when I’m done.

The Lake House is no exception. Morton knows just how to set the mood, location, and characters surrounding grand English homes, and she takes you right to the heart of Cornwall with this one. There are lots of plot threads and several time jumps, but that didn’t spoil what was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

lake house

Sam Wheeler is the author of several children’s books, including Smooch and Rose, Spud and Charlie and Mister Cassowary. She lives in Brisbane with her husband, daughters and pets.

Staff Shelf-Talker: “My Name is Lucy Barton,” Elizabeth Strout

lucy bartonThe much anticipated latest novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge has finally arrived.

Having left behind a damaged and poverty stricken childhood in the Midwest Lucy Barton is living a comfortable and stable life with her family in New York.  During a prolonged hospital stay her estranged mother visits prompting Lucy to confront her past, reassess her future and take the first tentative steps to becoming a writer.  With clarity, honesty and compassion Lucy recalls the isolation, shame and fear of her childhood and the relationships and simple acts of kindness that have sustained her. Touching on the complexities of parental love, the indestructibility of family bonds and the ruthless and selfish nature of the creative drive, this concise and beautifully written book should be in every home library.

-Laura

Top 10: Fiction

  1. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  2. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  3. Hope Farm, Peggy Frew
  4. The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood
  5. The Promise Seed, Cass Moriarty
  6. The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks
  7. The Lake House, Kate Morton
  8. Napoleon’s Last Island, Thomas Kenneally
  9. The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante
  10. The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende

Laura’s Shelf-Talker: ‘A Strangeness in My Mind,’ Orhan Pamuk

strangeness

Set in Istanbul and spanning 4 decades from the late 60’s to modern times, this beautifully yet simply written story of a Turkish street vendor, his family and friends will make you question what it means to be human.  As the city grows and changes around him and his friends and family find prosperity, Melvut walks the streets at night selling Boza (a traditional Turkish drink), dealing with the strange thoughts in his mind. Wealth eludes him but as he grows from a boy to a man it is his relationships with the streets of his city, his customers, his friends and his family that sustain him and give his life meaning.

An insight into the lives of moderate Muslims and the racial tensions and moral dilemmas that exist in a nation that straddles east and west the book touches on politics, history, religion and philosophy but is above all one of the most beautiful love stories you will ever read.

Top 10: Fiction

  1. The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks
  2. The Promise Seed, Cass Moriarty
  3. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  4. Purity, Jonathan Franzen
  5. The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham
  6. The Lake House, Kate Morton
  7. The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende
  8. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  9. Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
  10. The Mark and the Void, Paul Murray

Top 10: Fiction

  1. The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood
  2. The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks
  3. The Lake House, Kate Morton
  4. The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham
  5. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  6. A Game for All the Family, Sophie Hannah
  7. A Strangeness In My Mind, Orhan Pamuk
  8. A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James
  9. The Promise Seed, Cass Moriarty
  10. Did You Ever Have a Family, Billy Clegg