Review: Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay

Bridge of Clay

Markus Zusak

Pan Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781760559922

 

Description:

From the author of the no.1 New York Times bestselling novel The Book Thief.

 

“An amazing talent in Australian literature” Sunday Telegraph

 

Let me tell you about our brother.

The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay.

Everything happened to him.

We were all of us changed through him.

 

The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world.

 

It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He’s building a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.

 

A miracle and nothing less.

 

Markus Zusak makes his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt and inventive novel about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current: a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for a painful past.

 

PRAISE FOR BRIDGE OF CLAY

 

“Exquisitely written multigenerational family saga…With heft and historical scope, Zusak creates a sensitively rendered tale of loss, grief, and guilt’s manifestations.” Publishers Weekly

 

“An evocative, compassionate and exquisitely composed coming-of-age story about family, love, tragedy and forgiveness. Zusak’s prose is distinct: astute, witty, exquisitely rhythmic, and utterly engrossing. The deliberateness of his sentences, down to the punctuation is something to savour…a profoundly moving and engaging meditation on innocence and the pliable ties that bind family together in a quintessentially Australian setting.” Australian Books+Publishing Magazine

 

 

My View:

When I finished reading this book, about 1 in the morning, it took a great deal of self-control for me not to wake my husband up so I could talk to him about the book (he had read it a few days before me) and he loved it too! And now I cant wait for publication day to arrive so I can talk to others about this amazingly written (I loved the voice, the writing style), poignant, mesmerising read.

 

Perhaps my response to this book can best be summed up in the author’s own words (p. 568/569) “Twice I nearly broke down, and once I thought I’d be sick …” tears were close to flowing on several occasions, I swallowed them down in an effort to appear in control and dignified. I LOVED the book – can I make the call this early – THJE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ THIS YEAR!

 

 

 

Post Script: Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal=Entitlement exposed.


Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal

Sarah Vaughan

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471164996

 

Description:

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

Gripping psychological drama for fans of Apple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal.

 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

 

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

 

 

My View:

Anatomy of a Scandal=Entitlement exposed.

Privilege, entitlement, the boys club, he said she said…such a relevant narrative that explores themes that fill our news feeds, make headlines and fill our courts. Who do you believe? For me that answer is simple.  As I started reading this book I experienced a niggling prickling of my #metoo conscience, you know that little voice that says “ look out, take care, give a wide berth…be aware, don’t relax too much, danger, danger.” I felt the possessiveness, the strong sense of entitlement, the threat that emanated and vibrated on the pages; the tension, apprehension, a subtle soundtrack as I read on. How did this narrative make you feel?  Enough said – you must read this yourself and come to your own conclusion.

 

This is an extremely well- constructed, topical narrative that is simultaneously a court room drama and a slow burning suspense told from multiple point of views and time lines. A great read, a timely read.

 

 

 

 

This is an extremely well written, topical, contemporary narrative that is simultaneously a court room drama and a slow burning suspense told from multiple point of views and time lines. A great read, a timely read.

 

 

 

Best Contemporary Reads or Literary Reads of 2017

2017 was a great year for discovering new to me authors, books and publishers. The task of whittling down to just a few great contemporary  reads is too hard and so I will try and mention all I think are deserving a shout out, I do hope I dont miss anyone out.

I Am I Am I Am

I am I am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell

 

The Right Side

The Right Side – Spencer Quinn

 

Close Enough to Touch

Close Enough to Touch – Colleen Oakley

 

The Child Finder

The Child Finder – Renee Denfeld

 

#TooEasy

Too Easy – J M Green

 

Wimmera

Wimmera – Mark Brandi

 

Dear Banjo

Dear Banjo – Sasha Wasley

 

The Animators

The Animators – Kayla Rae Whitaker

 

Ache

Ache – Eliza Henry Jones

 

The Lone Child

The Lone Child – Anna George

 

Do you have any to add to the list?

 

 

Post Script: Her – Garry Disher

Her

Her

Garry Disher

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638541

 

Description:

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . .

 

Her name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father’s hand. She bides her time. She does her work.

 

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

 

A dark and unsettling tale from the turn of the twentieth century by a master of Australian literature.

 

 

My View:

This is a very quick, very dark, very disturbing read, written with skill and flair. Underpinning the bleak narrative are themes of resilience, the importance of family – in its varied forms, of solidarity and of the female bonds that sustain life and offer hope in desperate situations.

 

Disher skilfully captures the essence of the times and the Australian locations succinctly – early 1900’s, rural backdrops, you can hear those banjos strumming “Deliverance” style in your head as you turn the pages, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzae_SqbmDE  the poverty, the gloom, the desperation, the harsh conditions; the landscape ruling with a mean and spiteful fist, its fingers tightly clamped, strangling hope.

 

This is not what I would call an enjoyable read. This is however a remarkable, memorable, poignant and haunting read that I dare you to forget.

 

Guest Review : Her – Garry Disher

Her

Her

Garry Disher

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638541

 

Description:

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . .

Her name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father’s hand. She bides her time. She does her work.

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

A dark and unsettling tale from the turn of the twentieth century by a master of Australian literature.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Three years old she was when the scrap man came and paid her father nine shillings and sixpence. She was chosen over the rest of her siblings; suddenly she belonged to the scrap man while memories of her family faded. Living in a dilapidated jumble of belongings, her name was You; there was Wife and Big Girl – all cowered when the scrap man was angry.

Seasonally the horse was harnessed to the cart and they ventured out to sell, buy, steal and trick – meandering across the countryside, remembering where not to go if they’d been shunted away last time. Whenever there was a pub nearby the scrap man drank their measly pennies until there wasn’t enough for food. Then he would fly into a rage and beat Wife.

Back at home Wife, Big Girl and You spent their time making things from scrap metal for their next trip through the countryside; while the scrap man drank and womanised. What would happen to the little family? Would You be able to escape? He’d always threatened to kill her if she tried…

Her by Aussie author Garry Disher is set in the bush near Bendigo in Victoria at the turn of the century and is a tale of utter despair, bitterness and how the nameless young women coped at the hands of one unscrupulous and evil man. This is completely different to anything the author has written before, and in my opinion he’s nailed it. A master at his craft, Garry Disher certainly knows how to weave a tale, and Her will stay with me for a long time. A highly recommended 5 star read.

 

Post Script: Wimmera – Mark Brandi

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

Wimmera

Wimmera

Mark Brandi

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638459

 

Description:

In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

 

Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

 

Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man’s shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

 

Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.

 

Wimmera is the 2016 Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger (UK).

 

 

My View:

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

I guess you can say I am intuitive, I can read people (mostly) or maybe read moods is a better explanation – a survivor’s skill, an empathetic skill. I notice things, things that can make me feel uncomfortable, little things, an attitude, a facial expression, often  something intangible, a prickling of the skin… a niggling feeling that something isn’t right, a warning, a take care or get out of here kind of thing. Reading this book I was on high alert, all my intuitive cells were screaming – NO!!! Get out.

 

My intuition was not wrong.

 

The prologue sets the scene for a very intense read. A discarded wheelie bin, lid screwed down tight. The imagination starts to process many scenarios…none of them good.

 

The tension continues to build, by page seventy I was pretty sure what was going on or about to. I put the book down and had a little break. A few days later I picked up the book and continued. With subtle hints, oh so subtle, this authors says so much – this is such powerful writing!

 

Powerful, dark, intense, painfully exquisite writing. Less is more.  Once you read you cannot unread. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Eliza Henry Jones Talks About Her Novel Ache

Welcome author of In the Quiet and Ache. “Eliza Henry-Jones was born in Melbourne in 1990. She was a Young Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in 2012 and was a recipient of a Varuna residential fellowship for 2015. She has qualifications in English, psychology and grief, loss and trauma counselling. She is currently completing honours in creative writing – exploring bushfire trauma – and works in community services. She lives in the Dandenong Ranges with her husband and too many animals.” http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460750384/#sm.000013x3sti4gof8ssqbvqu70beyi

 

I recently read Ache and was seduced by the emotions and the poignantly written characters; individuals, families, communities, animals and the landscape  – a vivid and bold major character in this novel. The compelling writing will touch all that read it. I highly recommend this read.

Listen to Eliza  here: