Review: The World That We Knew

The World That We Knew

Alice Hoffman

Simon & Schuster Australia

Scribner

ISBN: 9781471185830

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites comes Alice Hoffman’s darkly magical story of a heartbreaking time of war when men became monsters, children navigated a world without parents, and women were willing to sacrifice everything for those they loved.

 

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed forever, Hanni Kohn knows she has to send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. Turning to an old woman who is familiar with Jewish magic, she finds her way to the daughter of a rabbi who creates a Golem, a mystical Jewish creature sworn to protect Hanni’s precious daughter Lea.

 

Lea’s journey with the Golem to France is fraught with danger and raw emotion. They travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses, to a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved, to a farm where the bees never forgive.

 

What does it mean to lose your mother? What makes a family? How is it possible to survive cruelty and continue to love? In a life that is as unreal as a fairytale, Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew takes us on a journey of loss and resistance, good and evil, the fantastical and the mortal, to a place where all roads lead past the angel of death and love is never-ending.

 

My View:

This book opens with a brilliant few pages, the tension and the drama are agonizing. I am so pleased the style quickly changed to one of magic realism; I could not have kept reading at the pace of the introductory pages, such a great emotive hook is deployed by the author; heartbreakingly good.

 

This is a narrative that makes no apologies for the atrocities it highlights. Facts are simply stated, then we move on, there is no glorification of war and war crimes, vendettas and prejudice, the facts speak loudly and should wake even the near deaf.

 

Themes of family, identity, love, what it means to be human, kinship, resilience and sacrifice are explored in this heart stopping, and unforgettable read. This is not an easy read but it is a monumental, outstanding and I imagine, soon to be, award winning novel. Read it today. A captivating read.

 

 

Review: The Confession – Jessie Burton

The Confession

Jessie Burton

Pan Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781509886159

RRP $29.99

Description:

The sensational new novel from the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse.

 

One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

 

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession …

 

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.

 

PRAISE FOR THE CONFESSION

‘Dazzlingly good. The Confession is that rare thing: an utterly engrossing novel which asks big questions without ever once losing sight of the storyteller’s need to entertain and move. I turned the final pages in tears and I know already I shall return to it again and again. Without doubt one of the best novels of recent years.’

Elizabeth Day, author of The Party and How To Fail

‘I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a long time . . . I lost myself in the story, not wanting to come up for air. A bold, intelligent, wonderful novel’ Sarah Winman, author of Tin Man

‘Burton is asking important questions in The Confession – questions about motherhood, art and creativity, love, friendship – and in doing this, she has created three utterly fascinating characters. Connie, Elise, and Rose are complicated; complex in ways that women are so rarely allowed to be in literature, demanding that their stories be heard. This is a beautiful novel and one that will stay with me for a very long time’ Louise O’Neill, author of Only Ever Yours

‘an absorbing, intelligent piece of storytelling’ Guardian

 AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jessie Burton is the author of the Sunday Times number one and New York Times bestsellers The Miniaturist and The Muse, and the children’s book The Restless Girls. In its year of publication The Miniaturist sold over a million copies, and in 2017 it was adapted into a major TV series for BBC One. Her novels have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and she is a regular essay writer for newspapers and magazines. She lives in London.

 

My View:

I finished reading this last night – OMG!!!

 

This is such a sublime read full of emotional intelligence and elegant prose – I just wanted to highlight paragraphs and paragraphs – because of the skilled use of language AND because of the many astute revelations about life’s journey.

 

The narrative is engaging; a bit of mystery, a lot of coming of age, of learning to love oneself and live in the moment not the future, about acceptance, family, identity… this book has so much to offer.  READ IT! 10 stars!!!

#FridayFreebie : Wearing Paper Dresses – Anne Brinsden

WEARING PAPER DRESSES

Anne Brinsden

Pan Macmillan Australia

https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760784850/

RRP $32.99

Thanks to the generous people at Pan Macmillan Australia  I have one copy of this 5 star book to give away on my blog.  In the comments state what colour the sand is in the Mallee. **hint see description here.

 

**This easy competition is open to Australian residents only.Entries close 5th October 2019 and the winner will be randomly selected. **

Review: Wearing Paper Dresses – Anne Brinsden

WEARING PAPER DRESSES

Anne Brinsden

Pan Macmillan Australia

https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760784850/

RRP $32.99

Description:

You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

 

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

 

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

 

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

 

‘In the same vein as Rosalie Ham, Brinsden weaves a compelling story of country Australia with all its stigma, controversy and beauty.’ Fleur McDonald

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

As far back as Anne can remember she has loved stories. Mostly, she would read them. But if there were no stories to read, she would make up her own. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne now with a couple of nice humans, an unbalanced but mostly nice cat and a family of magpies. But she lived all of her childhood in the Mallee in northern Victoria before heading for the city and a career as a teacher. She received the 2017 Albury Write Around the Murray short story competition, judged and presented by Bruce Pascoe; and was highly commended in the 2018 Williamstown Literary Festival short story competition. Wearing Paper Dresses is her first novel. Find out more at: http://www.annebrinsden.com

 

My View:

This is by far one of the stand out reads of 2019 and deservedly will find a place on my “Best of 2019 “reads.

 

This book evokes country Australia, small town, impoverished, drought struck Australia. It is all hard angles and tough decisions. It is mesmerising. It is relatable. It is real.  It is mental health issues in an accessible relatable format. It is life. It is love. It is family.

 

Read it. You MUST.

 

PS

Check out my #FridayFreebie post this week for a chance to win this amazing book.

 

Review: Every Time He Dies – Tara East

 

Every Time He Dies

Tara East

Tara East – self published

ISBN: 9780648581512

 

Description:

Daphne Lawrence is haunted. Two years ago, her fiancé died in a terrible accident, her mother passed away from cancer and she stopped speaking to her father. As an embalmer, Daff is used to the company of dead people, but she isn’t used to them talking back. In fact, Daff isn’t used to anything that could be considered woo-woo including, but not limited to: psychics, crystal, meditation, tarot cards, vision quests and coincidences. Too bad that’s everything she’s experiencing.

 

Daff is forced to confront her own long ignored grief when she discovers a haunted watch buried in the sand at Golden Beach. The problem is, her ghost has no memory of his former life or how he died.

 

As Daff seeks to discover the spectre’s identity, dangerous truths and hidden secrets are revealed. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of an on-going homicide investigation led by Detective Sergeant Jon Lawrence, her father. A story about grief, time and identity, Every Time He Dies will leave you wondering whether our dearly beloveds ever really depart.

 

My View:

A brilliant debut!

 

This is a multilayered, deeply moving narrative of redemption, forgiveness, identity, moving on, grieving, bikies, lies, mysteries and ghosts. What a fabulous read and oh so satisfying.

 

Tara East is a very visual storyteller; I watched this story play out in technicolour 3D in my head, the locations, very Australian, (is it coincidence that the most readable speculative fiction I have come across are based in/around Brisbane, Queensland?), the characters so vibrant (I love you Daff and Liam, well mostly Liam but Daff you are a very engaging protagonist) and the mysteries, intriguing.

 

I do hope that this is the start of a series, I can’t wait to read more about Daff’s adventures as she assist the newly dead on their quests.

 

Review: Eat Drink and Still Shrink – Michele Chevalley Hedge

Eat Drink and Still Shrink
Michele Chevalley Hedge
Pan Macmillan Australia
Plum
ISBN: 9781760783358
RRP $34.99

Description:
Like you, Michele Chevalley Hedge wants to be able to eat delicious food, enjoy the odd glass of wine and still feel great.

In this book, Michele draws on all the latest research and her many years’ experience as a nutritionist to provide a solution that works for the average busy person who wants to be healthy.

The sheer amount of nutritional information available nowadays can be overwhelming. But if we’re not eating well, we feel the impact in every part of our lives. Not only can a poor diet lead to weight gain, the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it also adversely affects our moods, our ability to sleep well and our energy levels – in short, everything we need to function well in this modern age.

So, what’s the answer? Certainly not deprivation; all the science tells us that ‘diets’ (especially the extreme, yo-yo variety) don’t work. What the science does show is that eating a balanced diet of nourishing wholefoods – with the odd treat thrown in – is your ticket to ageing well, a lean healthy body, a sense of vitality, abundant energy and better brain function.

This book is not about yo-yo dieting or trying to fit into your jeans by Friday. It’s a joyful guide to life and a sustainable way of eating for long-term good health.

My View:
When did food start to be the enemy? Michele Chevalley Hedge’s shares “We need this book because, while staying healthy is not overly complicated, it often seems as though it is. What’s more there are so many competing messages, too many ways of framing nutrition and not enough evidence based scientific data that underpins health.”p10

So much of the information presented here resonates with me. In fact I think this book is such a gem I am reading it a second time – the first I read to reflect on Michele’s discussion and now to try and apply some of her strategies to my life style. I particularly like the “micro changes” and am already embarking of a couple of those…simple changes that benefit my health.

Here within is a strategy to put your health back on track. A great read.

Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone – Felicity McLean

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

Felicity McLean

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Fourth Estate

ISBN: 9781460755068

 

Description:

We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

 

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

 

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

 

Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

 

 

My View:

Outstanding!

 

If evocative, tension packed mysteries are your thing than don’t miss reading this book.

 

Felicity McLean captures the age of the characters, the idiom and the culture of the 90’s effortlessly – or makes it seem effortlessly.

I was glued to the pages, holding my breath, hoping for a positive outcome. There is so much tension packed into every observation, every comment, and every moment.

 

This is compelling, haunting and thought provoking. I loved every minute of this read.  Is this the best read of the year? I think so. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time.