Review – The Banksia House Breakout- James Roxburgh

The Banksia House Breakout

James Roxburgh

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781920727857

Description:

When Ruth Morris is moved into Banksia House by her workaholic son Michael, she is eighty-one years young, mourning her loss of independence, and missing her best friend Gladys terribly.

So when she learns Gladys is dying a state over in Brisbane, Ruth is determined to say goodbye. Enlisting the help of her fellow residents, Ruth makes a daring departure from Banksia House alongside renowned escape-artist Keith, and her formidable new friend Beryl.

The journey from Sydney is far from straightforward, featuring grimy hotels, hitchhiking, and a mild case of grand theft. This unlikely trio finds themselves on the trip of a lifetime, where new connections blossom amidst the chaos. But the clock is ticking and Gladys awaits – will they make it across the border in time?

In this joyous and captivating read, debut author James Roxburgh delivers a heart-warming tale that will have you cheering for Ruth from beginning to end.

My View:

This is a standout debut novel. Character based – there will b e some you will love and some you are glad to see them get their “just desserts” 🙂 Perhaps this book could be best described as a “coming of old age” novel; nursing homes, dementia, cancer, elder abuse, power shifts in relationships….adventure, trying new things, new relationships, helping others…its all here.

A poignant start that might resonate with the baby boomer generation (now looking at the health/housing situation of their aging parents) the book then offers adventures with hilarity, compassion and a tinge of sadness. The overarching theme I think is “live in the present, not the past, not the future” and that relationships matter.

A great read.

Review: In Moonland – Miles Allinson

In Moonland

Miles Allinson

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925322927

Description:

‘A parent’s love for a child, you probably know this yourself, it’s pretty bottomless. It goes down into the guts of the world. But a child’s love for a parent is different. It goes up. It’s more ethereal. It’s not quite present on the earth.’

In present-day Melbourne, a man attempts to piece together the mystery of his father’s apparent suicide, as his young family slowly implodes. At the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in 1976, a man searching for salvation must confront his capacity for violence and darkness. And in a not-too-distant future, a woman with a life-altering decision to make travels through a climate-ravaged landscape to visit her estranged father.

In Moonland is a portrait of three generations, each grappling with their own mortality. Spanning the wild idealism of the 70s through to the fragile hope of the future, it is a novel about the struggle for transcendence and the reverberating effects of family bonds. This long-awaited second outing from Miles Allinson, the multi-award-winning author of Fever of Animals, will affirm his reputation as one of Australia’s most interesting contemporary fiction writers, and urge us to see our own political and environmental reality in a new light.

My View:

A book that is literally in four parts.

And perhaps that makes reviewing this the hardest thing; the parts. I found the first section mildly intriguing, yes there is sadness, a mystery, a family experiencing relationship issues. I liked the writing in the first person – it felt a little like reading the protagonists diary – I enjoyed this style and the quirky characters encountered.

For me part two was the most interesting. The trip to India (fathers), the life in the cult, the “fly on the wall” experiences the author shares with you and that mystery, the shocking revelation … and others of family violence, abuse…. which leads us to part 3 – more of the discoveries of events in India told by bystanders or others involved. Memory is an interesting thing.” We’d made up our minds a long time ago, hadn’t we?  That was the agreement. You were my brother and that’s what you wanted. So I knew the script pretty well. I half believed it anyway, after all those years. I said my lines. I wasn’t bad…” p 198.

For me the first three sections were enough to convey the story, to expose some incredible secrets and to discuss generational violence, sins and secrets. The “hippy era” was very interesting. The reflections on those times illuminating. Section four didn’t really add much for me – either it could have been longer or not there at all…

All in all an interesting read with lots of surprises, a trip or two down a distant memory lane, a reflection of the 70’s  in Australia and India, a look at culture, religion, cults and families and all that dirty linen.

Guest Review: Stalking Claremont – Bret Christian

Stalking Claremont
Inside the Hunt for a Serial Killer  
Bret Christian
ABC Books
Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Rachel’s Review:

An incredibly gripping, insightful and compelling look behind the scenes of Australia’s longest-running homicide investigation.

I was absolutely hooked by this fascinating exploration of the horrific crimes and subsequent decades of investigations to catch the murderer that terrorised Claremont.

This meticulous probe into the high-stakes police work, bumbling mistakes, and relentless focus on innocent suspects was riveting. With broad strokes reporter Bret Christian paints a vivid picture of Claremont in the late 1990s, a world that in many ways feels so familiar and yet, in others, so far removed from my own experiences as a young woman in Perth just a decade later – testament to how much we were changed as a town when three women’s lives were cut short. Piecing together what we remember from the last 20 plus years of media coverage with all the things the public never knew, including how the case was eventually cracked, this is a considered, detailed and well-researched ode to three Perth women whose names will never be forgotten – Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.