Review: Betty – Tiffany McDaniel

**Best reads of 2020 Must reads of 2020**

Tiffany McDaniel who is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers, ever!

Betty
Tiffany McDaniel
W & N :
H
achette Australia
ISBN: 9781474617536

Description:

A stunning, lyrical coming-of-age novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in which a young girl, with only the compass of her father’s imagination, must navigate racism, sexism, and the dark secrets that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

“A girl comes of age against the knife.”

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in Arkansas in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty, racism, abuse, and violence–both from outside the family, and also, devastatingly, from within. After years on the road, searching in vain for a better life, the Carpenters return to their hometown of Breathed, Ohio, in northern Appalachia. There, they move into a sprawling wreck of a farmhouse that local legend says is cursed. The townsfolk decide the Carpenters are cursed, too: “My mother gave birth to eight of us,” Betty tells us in her frank, wry voice. “More than one would die for no good reason in the prizewinning years of their youth. Some blamed God for taking too few. Others accused the Devil of leaving too many.”

But Betty is resilient. Her father’s inventive stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination and even in the face of tragedy and death, her creativity is irrepressible. Against overwhelming odds, she may be the first member of her family to break the cycle of abuse and trauma–and escape.

 

My View:

I Love Tiffany McDaniel’s writing – I just want to grab a pen an underline or flag words to read again – and I never ever mark my books! Or read again. Just like her debut The Summer That Melted Everything – I love love love the writing, the emotions, the themes, the protagonists, the contemporary issues and that this writing is based on family history.   What a story! Grab the tissues there are so many poignant moments without being melodramatic – in fact melodrama is the opposite of how this book is written.

 

Let me share an example of the scintillating writing:

After dinner Old Woman Slipperwort went to bed. I fell asleep watching TV through the crawling ants and static. I woke a few hours later, needing to pee. I walked quietly toward her bedroom, hoping I could pass through to the bathroom.

Like the night before, I found her naked and sitting on the edge of her bed. Unaware I was there, she continued to massage her legs, their blue -green veins twisting beneath her skin.  I wasn’t as afraid seeing her body this second night. In the folds and creases, I saw her history. Her skin the diary of her soul. All the springs she had watched the flowers bloom. The summers she had stood before the moon and kissed its face. The autumns she had grown wiser. The winter that had frozen the initials of her name. Each wrinkle was a record of this and every hour, minute an second she had lived. The things she had asked God for. The things she had cursed the devil about. In the folds and creases I saw beauty.“p 294 ( The back story to this will make your heart break) I am tearing up revisiting this section. This writer can see into the souls of people and transform that vision in words on the page

 

READ THIS BOOK.

 

Like The Summer That Melted Everything I predict awards for Betty.

Review The Museum of Forgotten Memories- Anstey Harris

The Museum of Forgotten Memories

Anstey Harris

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471194610

RRP $29.99

Description:

*** The wonderful new novel from the acclaimed author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton ***

 

One summer.

One house.

One family learning to love again.

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.

Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

 

Praise for Anstey Harris

‘Glorious on so many levels’ A J Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird

‘Full of hope and charm’ Libby Page, author of The Lido

‘A hymn to friendship, to getting back up and finding happiness where none seemed possible’ Katie Fforde

‘An indulgently emotional and beautifully written story about new starts’ Daily Mail

‘Brilliantly and movingly written’ Dorothy Koomson

‘A beautifully tender portrait of the complexity of love, the depths of loneliness and the healing power of friendship’ heat

‘A gorgeously written, heartfelt tale about love and loss’ Good Housekeeping

‘Impressively powerful’ Claire Frost, Fabulous Magazine

‘As elegant and uplifting as a classical sonata, with added kick from its unforgettably quirky characters. I was both engrossed in and moved by this fabulous debut’ Catherine Isaac, author of R&J Book Club pick You Me Everything

‘A moving, beautifully written, uplifting debut about mending broken hearts through friendship. The twists and turns make it impossible to put down’ Sarah J. Harris

 ‘What a total joy!’ Fanny Blake

‘This book was so different from anything I’ve read before… it was beautiful, uplifting and really taught me a thing or two … The characters are diverse, the setting beautiful and the subject matter unique’ Fabulous Book Fiend

‘An absolutely beautiful read’ Heidi Swain

‘I adored this book! Exquisitely crafted, it’s a compassionate, heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale. An absolute triumph’ Fionnuala Kearney

 

My View:

Delightful!

 

I don’t know which element of this book I enjoyed the most; the characters are written with charm, eloquence and humanity, the settings are superb –  I could see the crockery shining on the table, the silverware polished, gleaming, the stately home in all its run down glory, the gardens, the statues, the exhibits, the clothes Leo wears…the towns people, the village….what an incredible story teller Anstey Harris is.

 

Then there is the narrative- complex yet simple to digest, heart-warming yet not saccharine, love stories, enduring and new and wrong and so right   – I inhaled this read in one sitting.

Brilliant.

Review: Give Me Your Hand – Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand

Megan Abbott

Pam Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781509855711

 

Description:

A mesmerizing psychological thriller about how a secret can bind two friends together forever…or tear them apart.

 

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane’s academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them.

 

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she’s put Diane behind her forever and she’s begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.

 

 

My View:

What a surprising read!  This novel slowly builds tension and pace. The main characters are intricately and extensively drawn. None of the characters are particularly endearing, likable or appealing yet their stories are intriguing. The continual striving for excellence, the competition, the camaraderie…the secrets that ultimately destroy, the bizarre behaviours, the double standards and lack of integrity that is slowly revealed.

 

I was enjoying this read, but was thinking nothing too much above the average here – until the last few chapters!  Boy was I wrong! This book is worth reading just to experience the deliciousness of the ending. WOW! SWEET! INCREDIBLY GOOD.

 

Read and tell me what you think.

 

Post Script: Under Your Skin – Sabine Durrant

Many twists and turns and surprises!

Under Your Skin, Sabine Durrant

Under Your Skin

A Novel

Sabine Durrant

Atria Books

Atria/Emily Bestler Books

ISBN: 9781476716237

 

Description:

In this page-turning debut from talented crime writer Sabine Durrant, a woman makes a chilling discovery in the woods that changes her life forever.

When clever, pretty, successful Gaby Mortimer discovers the dead body of a young woman near her house, she has no idea that her apparently happy, secure, charmed life is about to go into sickening freefall—and that soon she will be living by the mantra of the police detective investigating the murder case: ABC: Assume Nothing, Believe No One, Check Everything…

My View:

This was an absorbing read with an astounding ending! This truth sneaks up on you and hits you on the head – BAM! You will feel totally confused, shocked and at odds with the world; this is not how you saw the story unravel, this ending will blow you away. I was totally surprised. I was totally enthralled in this story, in this mega deception, in this callous and well thought out plan. Sabine Durrant is a talented and gifted story teller. This is a stunning debut novel full of twists and turns and surprises. Enjoy.