Review: Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller – Christine Courtenay

Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller

Christine Courtenay

Penguin

Viking

ISBN: 9780143778851

Description:
Bryce Courtenay was a born storyteller. The success of his extraordinary debut The Power of One made publishing history, and in the years that followed Bryce continued to entertain and inspire thousands of devoted readers around the world with his sweeping epics and larger-than-life characters who embody the strength and triumph of the human condition.
What kind of man did it take to conjure these tales? What kind of life?


When Christine Courtenay began penning her own memoir during lockdown, she found herself increasingly drawn to the remarkable story of her late husband’s life and reflecting upon his astonishing literary legacy. From his humble beginnings in Africa to his dazzling success in advertising and as a bestselling author, Bryce’s extraordinary, rags-to-riches life story reads like one of his epic novels. It was a life marked by all the big themes – overcoming adversity, love, loss, hard-won success, fame and fortune, and holding tight to a dream.


In this telling Christine uncovers the events that shaped the man behind the stories – a man complex, driven and unfailingly positive, who never lost sight of his childhood dream to be a writer. Candid, intimate and insightful, Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller is a fascinating, loving tribute to the life and work of Australia’s most beloved and enigmatic writer. 

My View:

Bryce Courtenay was an extraordinary story teller, both in his writing and in his “in person ” interviews. I, like many, read and were moved by The Power of One. Over the years I have read many of Courtenay’s books, perhaps my verry favourite being Silvery Moon – inspiring, uplifting and personal. I could feel the charisma of Bryce Courtenay when reading Silvery Moon.

Reading “Storyteller” I was both filled with sadness and with optimism. Bryce Courtenay had the most horrendous start to life, echoes of his early years ripple through his books, look closely, listen. In the words of Bryce Courtenay “…you must understand, I don’t wany you or anyone to feel sorry for me. Sure my childhood was tough, but it made me the person I am. If my early life had been easy, I am certain I would not have set the bar for my self so high” p47 ( in conversation with Christine) Such wonderful messages of hope are contained in this book.

Bryce Courtenay was a writer, a storyteller. I salute you.

Review: The Pachinko Parlour – Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

The Pachinko Parlour

Elisa Shua Dusapin

Translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585172

Description:

From the author of Winter in Sokcho, which won the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The days are beginning to draw in. The sky is dark by seven in the evening. I lie on the floor and gaze out of the window. Women’s calves, men’s shoes, heels trodden down by the weight of bodies borne for too long.

It is summer in Tokyo. Claire finds herself dividing her time between tutoring twelve-year-old Mieko in an apartment in an abandoned hotel and lying on the floor at her grandparents: daydreaming, playing Tetris, and listening to the sounds from the street above. The heat rises; the days slip by.

The plan is for Claire to visit Korea with her grandparents. They fled the civil war there over fifty years ago, along with thousands of others, and haven’t been back since. When they first arrived in Japan, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlour. Shiny is still open, drawing people in with its bright, flashing lights and promises of good fortune. And as Mieko and Claire gradually bond, their tender relationship growing, Mieko’s determination to visit the pachinko parlour builds.

The Pachinko Parlour is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel within a family. Crisp and enigmatic, Shua Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.

My View:

Another beautifully written book which has been excellently translated, a joy to read.

Shua Dusapin writes with intelligence and with a deep understanding of what it is to be human. Her writing evocatively reflects on aging, culture, belonging … The writing has a sense of innocence that is peaceful yet confident; vignettes of the ordinary that are so revealing.

Review: When A Soul Mate Says No- A Memoir – Amanda Trenfield

When A Soul Mate Says No -A Memoir

Amanda Trenfield

Pepper Press

ISBN: 9781925914436

Description:

Amanda never imagined that after uprooting her comfortable, stable life to make room for her soulmate that he would decide to go his own way. They agreed that their connection was unbelievably cosmic. So why did he say no?

A fearless voyage of self-discovery fueled by stubbornness, tenacity, and an unquenchable thirst for answers to the great mysteries of the soul. Amanda shares the intimate details of her transformation from love-sick hot mess to self-actualised superstar with unapologetic vulnerability and effervescent humour.

Through the exploration of grief, spirituality, energy therapies, self-acceptance, and the undeniable healing power of a good Diana Ross song, Amanda’s story serves as an example of what is possible when we dare to dream of a life that’s nothing short of miraculous. 

My View:

This is a courageous and honest narrative about life transformation through the exploration of grief and relationships.

The author has turned around her negative situation and focused on her own healing and self awareness and shows the reader how you too can evoke change.

A very honest and open read.

**PS Love the cover art.

Review: This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch- Tabitha Carvan

This is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

Tabitha Carvan

Fourth Estate

Harper Collins

ISBN:  9781460760659

RRP $32.99

Description:

If you feel that sense that there is something missing from your life, some gap between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside – then this is the book for you.

This is, as the title says, not actually a book about Benedict Cumberbatch.

In fact, it’s a book about women and what we love, about what happens to women’s passions after we leave adolescence and how the space for joy in our lives is squeezed ever smaller as we age, and why. More importantly, it’s about what happens if you subvert that narrative and simply love something like you used to.

Drawing upon her personal experience of unexpectedly falling for the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch while stuck at home with two young children, Carvan challenges the reader to stop instinctively resisting the possibility of experiencing pleasure. Hers is clarion rallying cry: find your thing, whatever it may be, and love it like your life depends on it.

Funny, intelligent, transporting and liberating, this book is a total joy.

Witty, erudite and fierce in its message – that women should seek joy and find fun. Happily, this book provides both in abundance. I loved it.‘ Jacqueline Maley

You know when you bite into a chocolate, and unexpectedly discover it’s filled with delectable cherry kirsch that explodes into your mouth and oozes everywhere? That’s this book. Original, highly entertaining, fast-paced, personal read that contains unexpected revelations at every corner. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s compelling. But most of all, it’s a battle cry: sit up, pay attention and follow your heart and find joy. After all, our time on this earth is short. C’mon. The clock is ticking.‘ Ginger Gorman

‘Intimate, self-deprecating … like an Australian Caitlin Moran or Dolly Alderton … an easy, lighthearted read about serious subject matter: feminism, passion, relationships and creativity, and owning the strength of the passions felt in childhood and adolescence.’ Books+Publishing

My View:

Let’s start with 5 star read. Wonderful cover art. A surprising, evocative, provocative and thoroughly enjoyable read. In fact I might even read this again and again. And that says something.

I picked up this booked – for two reasons- I do love the cover art and I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch since I discovered this video. I love his voice. Check this out. He “reads” poetry, letters….I would listen to him read a shopping receipt. 🙂

But I digress. 🙂

The book, though it does rave and gush about the wonders of the man Benedict Cumberbatch (to illustrate a point 🙂 ) it is actually a book about finding passion, finding yourself, acceptance and love. It is about discovering or rediscovering feelings, rediscovering self, honoring your self.

It is a fun, witty, intelligent and thought provoking read.

I loved this book.

Happy New Year

On reflection 2021 has been a time of family, of joy, of creating (art), of love, of new beginnings ( new grandchild arriving April 2022) of rescue dog love (Maggie) of art and more art ( did I mention art?) of reading… so many good books and so many new friends…

Happy New Year and thanks for following this journey with me.

The last painting of 2021 and the start of the first for 2022

Art with grandson
Maggie Dog

Cheers🎉🎉🍾🍾🍾 Happy New Year

Review: Winter in Sokcho – Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Winter in Sokcho (Hiver à Sokcho)

Elisa Shua Dusapin

 Aneesa Abbas Higgins (Translator)

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585011

RRP $22.99

Description:

As if Marguerite Duras wrote Convenience Store Woman — a beautiful, unexpected novel from a debut French-Korean author.

It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an “authentic” Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows — the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.

An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.

My View:

This quietly spoken little book is quite remarkable! I loved the voice, I loved its style – minimalist yet full of poignant, expressive moments captured succinctly and in an unassuming manner.

This is a book that demands much fanfare!! This is a read I will be recommending to all I see. It is exquisite reading and perfectly translated.  I don’t think my words can do this book justice, all I can do is suggest you pick this book up and start reading…you will find time disappears as you enter the protagonist’s world.

We all wish to be seen.

Perfect. Memorable. The best read in many years.

Review: Something Like This – Karly Lane

Something Like This

Karly Lane

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760529253

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A spellbinding new rural romance from the bestselling author of the Callahans of Stringybark Creek trilogy and Fool Me Once.

 

 

Jason Weaver just wants to be left alone. It was a tough transition from his army days to civilian life, and he’s looking forward to settling into a solitary life.

 

Tilly Hollis is working two jobs to save for her dream career: running an equine therapy program. Tilly loves her horses more than anything, and after losing her husband and business partner just a few years earlier, she’s determined to make it work on her own.

 

When Jason walks into the cafe where Tilly works, they’re immediately drawn to one another. But can they overcome their pasts to find a future together?

 

 

My View:

I have had a few very restless/sleepless nights recently and so the last time I found myself still awake past midnight a pick up my copy of Something Like This and settled in to read for an hour or so before I went back to bed and sleep, I hoped. This was a major mistake. 173 pages later I did not want to put this book down!  I looked at the clock – gone 3 (well to be honest – it was a bit later than that but I am not admitting to that) 😊  I sighed and decided I really had to try and get some sleep, so reluctantly I left the book on the table and went back to bed, yes I did get a few hours sleep.

 

I loved this read!  The main characters were so engaging, their back stories poignant and heartbreaking yet not melodramatic, their everyday life relatable with an appeal that connects to the reader – this is a fabulous character driven narrative. There is more to this narrative than rural romance; this is a multi-faceted exploration of loss, grief, families, second chances and courage, the everyday courage of getting up and facing each new day when you least feel like it. It’s about cancer, about the aftermath of war, about hope, faith and building trust…and therapy horses, set in the back drop of small rural town life.

 

 

PS – I am even quoted on the back of this book 🙂