Post Script: The Saddler Boys – Fiona Palmer

Cover Art The Saddler Boys

The Saddler Boys

Fiona Palmer

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143799795

 

Description:

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

 

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

 

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs.

 

 

My View:

Recently I have been reading a few “How to Write” type books and one piece of advice I see repeatedly offered is “write about what you know.” Fiona Palmer is an expert at this, her love of the county, in particular the Western Australian wheat belt, it small towns and the people who inhabit these town, shines in her books, this one is no exception.

 

Fiona’s love of the land is evident in every word, every sentence of this exceptional narrative; there are vivid scenes of sheep and shearing sheds, you can almost smell the lanolin, hear the buzz of the clippers, picture the farm/work ute and see yourself catching yabbies in the dam… I think this narrative works so well because you can so easily place yourself in the settings, the images are so alive.

 

Juxtaposed against the images of country life dictated by the seasons, a lifestyle built on community is the busyness and sterility of the city, Nat’s parents particularly showcase a world devoted to appearances, image, the creation of wealth, a world devoid of emotion. Uncle Kent is the exception in this city environment; a character that demonstrates that wealth and caring can go hand in hand.

 

Fiona Palmer’s writing is has depth and successfully tackles many contemporary issues – the demise of the small country town, the disproportionate number of males to females in country towns and the social implications of this factor, the closing of schools when numbers aren’t deemed viable and the negative domino effect this has on the rest of the community (the closing of the local shop, people moving to areas where there are a greater range of services etc.) domestic violence, custody battles… there is so much packed into this book.

 

This is an exceptional book; Fiona Palmer has created a country town that the reader can step into, a place where the characters are people you know and love (mostly), a place where family and community matter and woven into this rural scene are real and current issues. Fiona Palmer has successfully and engagingly written about what she knows best.

 

 

 

Post Script: Six Square Metres – Margaret Simons

Cover Six Square Metres

Six Square Metres

Margaret Simons

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925106831

 

Description:

Life lessons from the ground up.

 

Sometimes you reap what you sow. Sometimes you reap what other people sowed. Sometimes you haven’t got a clue what you are sowing, and sometimes you just get lucky, or unlucky. All these things are true of life, as of gardening.

 

In this thoughtful and beautifully observed book, journalist and gardening enthusiast Margaret Simons takes readers on a journey through the seasons, through her life, and through the tiny patch of inner-urban earth that is home to her garden.

 

Over the course of a year, within the garden and without, there are births to celebrate and deaths to mourn; there are periods of great happiness and light, and times of quiet reflection. There is, in other words, all the chaos, joy, sorrow, and splendour of being alive.

 

 

My View:

This is an endearing and poignant read. Margaret Simons has a quiet and peaceful voice – it seems to me that she is content and happy with her life and her garden and this contentedness nourishes the reader and the writer alike. So calm and peaceful – I loved reading this book.

 

If you are a gardener or a consumer of fresh produce or have a family, live in the city or the country, you will be able to relate to individual stories or situations in this book. This memoir is short on pages, big on life.

Post Script: The Life Of I – Anne Manne

Cover The Life Of I

The Life of I (Updated Edition)

The New Culture of Narcissism

Anne Manne

Melbourne University Publishing

MUP

ISBN: 9780522868975

 

Description:

Far from being the work of a madman, Anders Breivik’s murderous rampage in Norway was the action of an extreme narcissist. As the dead lay around him, he held up a finger asking for a Band-Aid.

Written with the pace of a psychological thriller, The Life of I is a compelling account of the rise of narcissism in individuals and society. Manne examines the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the alarming rise of sexual assaults in sport and the military, as well as the vengeful killings of Elliot Rodger in California. She looks at narcissism in the pursuit of fame and our obsession with ‘making it’. She goes beyond the usual suspects of social media and celebrity culture to the deeper root of the issue: how a new narcissistic character-type is being fuelled by a cult of the self and the pursuit of wealth in a hypercompetitive consumer society.

The Life of I also offers insights from the latest work in psychology, looking at how narcissism develops. But Manne also shows that there is an alternative: how to transcend narcissism, to be fully alive to the presence of others; how to create a world where love and care are no longer turned inward.

 

Anne Manne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a regular columnist for the Australian and the Age. More recently her essays on contemporary culture such as child abuse, pornography, gendercide and disability have all appeared in The Monthly magazine. Her essay ‘Ebony: The Girl in the Room’, was included in The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection. He book, Motherhood: How Should We Care for Our Children?, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2006. She has written a Quarterly Essay, ‘Love and Money; the Family and the Free Market’, and a memoir, So This Is Life: Scenes from a Country Childhood.

 

 

My View:

This is a very interesting and easy to read and absorbing discussion on narcissism and the narcissistic personality that involves contemporary high profile examples to demonstrate the actual ways (and potential for) narcissists to interact with the world and society.

I am sure we have all come across some of the behaviours on the lower end of the scale – the bully at work (yes I have met a few), cases of domestic violence (there are plenty of examples here), the precocious, the self-centred, those with imagined slights ; angry and vengeful. Are there more of these type personalities about or in this age of social media conscious, are we just more aware?

 

I was fascinated by the examples in this book – Anders Breivik, Lance Armstrong…and then as I was reading another high school shooting massacre in the USA appears on my news feed, such sadness fills my heart.

 

This is a book we should all be reading.

 

My View:

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Waiting Room – Leah Kaminsky

Compelling, moving and societally relevant.

 Cover The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

Leah Kaminsky

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Vintage Australia

ISBN: 9780857986221

 

Description:

Compelling, moving and memorable. Graeme Simsion. The Waiting Room captures the sights, sounds, accents and animosities of a country overflowing with stories. Dina is a family doctor living in the melting-pot city of Haifa, Israel. Born in Australia in a Jewish enclave of Melbourne to Holocaust survivors, Dina left behind a childhood marred by misery and the tragedies of the past to build a new life for herself in the Promised Land. After starting a family of her own, she finds her life falling apart beneath the demands of her eccentric patients, a marriage starting to fray, the ever-present threat of terrorist attack and the ghost of her mother, haunting her with memories that Dina would prefer to leave on the other side of the world. Leah Kaminsky plumbs the depths of her characters’ memories, both the sweet and the heart-wrenching, reaching back in a single climactic day through six decades and across three continents to uncover a truth that could save Dina’s sanity – and her life.

 

My View:

Compelling, moving and societally relevant.

Dina wasn’t there to see the ashes when the war ended, but she was born into a smoky after haze. She had never known war, but its tendrils gripped her from a young age, as she tried to make up for everyone her mother had lost. She had to be a good girl: fill her mother’s sadness with love.” In this instance Leah Kaminsky is specifically discussing the legacy of the Holocaust and the effects on the Jewish survivors, and in particular Survivors Guilt; she could however be talking about any people living in crisis, living with conflict, living in refugee camps, living with war or the survivors of war, in any region of our modern world. The effects of war and conflict are far reaching and disturbing, and time does little to ease the pain and burden of such actions.

 

Beautifully written, poignant, lyrical; “‘the dead were the lucky ones, you know.’ Her mother smoothes a few strands of hair back from her forehead. ‘After we were liberated, there was silence for a while.’ Dina imagines a soft sighing seeping up from the earth, melting into windless air. The murmuring of the dead. Their voices becoming a steady whisper that followed her mother everywhere.” Such sadness is articulately conveyed.

 

This narrative is intelligently written, haunting, evocative, explosive …unforgettable. There are lessons for us all to learn, for our politicians to hear and to note.

 

Post Script: Leap – Myfanwy Jones

Cover Leap

Leap

Myfanwy Jones

Samuel Johnson (Narrator)

Audible Studios

Allen & Unwin

ASIN: B010OO7VIK

Description:

A few weeks after finishing their final exams high school sweethearts have an argument at a party. Joe wants to go – Jen begs him to stay. They fight in the corridor, following their usual script, and then he walks out and leaves her. A few hours later she dies.

 

Three years on, after burning up his own dreams for the future, Joe is working in dead-end jobs and mentoring a wayward teenager not dissimilar from his younger self. Driven by the need to make good, he spends all his spare time doing parkour under an inner-city bridge, training his mind and body to conquer the hostile urban environment that took his love and blighted his future.

 

Somewhere else, a middle-aged woman, Elise, is treading water in her life as her marriage breaks up. We watch as she retreats to the only place that holds any meaning for her – the tiger enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, where, for reasons she barely understands, she starts painting the tigers and forms a close connection to them.

 

Joe is broken by grief, but the outside world won’t let him hide forever. A cool and bewitching girl turns up on the doorstep of his share house, somehow painfully familiar to him. Then there is the skateboarding chef at the bar where he works, the girl with the Cossack-blue eyes, who wants to be his friend. And someone going by the Facebook tag Emily Dickinson wants to reminisce about his dead girlfriend and won’t leave him alone.

 

Can Joe staunch the flooding return of desire – or is it time to let go of the past? And will he make the nine-foot leap from girder to pillar or does he want to fall too?

 

While at its heart is a searing absence, Leap is driven by an unstoppable and exhilarating life force, and the eternally hopeful promise of redemptive love. Funny, moving, quirky and original, Leap is an effortlessly enjoyable novel that quietly creeps up on you until its final jaw-dropping pages and a narrative twist that will take your breath away.

 

My View:

Myfanwy Jones writes this narrative with finesse and gentleness, Samuel Johnson narrates this engaging story of love, friendship, loss and grief with aplomb. It was pure pleasure listening to this story; the prose was lyrical, the images of the zoo and the tiger enclosure were mesmerising and the stories in the individual character strands were interesting and worked well together to complete a picture of how we react to loss – of identity, loss of physical capacity, loss of romantic love, loss of a child, loss of a relationship. There was even a hint of mystery thrown in for good measure – and I was surprised when the mystery was revealed – I did not pick up any clues to this reveal.

Buy the book or listen to the audio version – you will slowly and gently be guided into this story that ends with a note of optimism.

 

Post Script: Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley

Cover Graffiti Moon Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon

Cath Crowley

Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd

ISBN: 9780330425780

 

Description:

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.

Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.

Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.

Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.

An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

A lyrical new YA novel from the award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Duskin and the Gracie Faltrain series.

 

 

My View:

Before I start my review I would just like to mention that this book has won or been nominated for a massive number of awards, I am just one of many singing praises for the beautifully written book:

Literary Awards:

New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature (2011), Children’s Book Council of Australia Award Nominee for Older Readers Book of the Year (2011), Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Young Adult Fiction (2011), Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Nominee for Prize for Writing for Young Adults (2011), The Inky Awards Nominee for Gold Inky (2011)  The Inky Awards Shortlist for Gold Inky (2011).

 

This book is a beautiful coming of age story that is the perfect pick me up for any waning spirits – full of lovable characters, complex yet not complicated issues, full of big ideas ( the images/art work descriptions here are poetic and beautiful and sad all at the same time), some great descriptive prose, colours, colour and more colour. I loved it. No need to say any more 🙂

 

 

 

Post Script: Please Don’t Leave Me Here – Tania Chandler

Please Dont Leave Me Here Tania Chandler Cover

Please Don’t Leave Me Here

Tania Chandler

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925106770

 

Description:

A riveting psychological thriller.

 

Kurt Cobain stands at the top of the stairs, wearing the brown sweater. ‘Please don’t leave me,’ she yells up at him. But it’s too late; he’s turning away as the tram slows for the stop out on the street.

 

Then she’s lying on the road. Car tyres are going past, slowly. Somebody is screaming. A siren howls.

 

Sweet voices of little children are singing ‘Morningtown Ride’.

 

Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

 

Nobody knows why she was in the east of the city so early on the morning she was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver. It was the Friday before Christmas 1994 — the same day police discovered the body of a man beaten to death in her apartment.

 

Fourteen years later, Brigitte is married to the detective who investigated the murder, which she claims to have lost her memory of in the car accident. They have young twins, and seem to be a happy family. Until the reopening of the cold case.

 

Please Don’t Leave Me Here is about loss, love and lies. It is about pain, fear, and memory. And, above all, it is about letting go.

 

 

My View:

This has to be the scariest book cover I have come across in quite some time…that smoke blurred image that distorts the facial features of this photo, for some reason I find this very spooky- thankfully the book is not scary , it is …intriguing and very sad.

 

This is a narrative of many mysteries, survival, and memory and how low self-esteem can really shape a person’s life choices and boy has Brigitte mad some very poor choices… as we reach the conclusion of this book we catch a glimmer of hope that Brigitte is perhaps about to make a good decision – the past being acknowledged as the past and maybe accepting/owning her own feelings and a truth revealed.

 

Tania Chandler takes an addictive personality, low self-esteem, poor parenting and loss of memory and creates a very credible personality that is Brigitte. At each turn of the page you can understand why poor decision are made and empathise with the protagonist who is exploited and manipulated by even those who care for her. This is a grim, realistic story that ends with just a trace of optimism – or is that me looking for a positive outcome? Who knows…?

 

Tania Chandler has mastered the art of writing the unreliable narrator in this book.