I love stories about family dramas. No matter how many times authors throw the standard elements into their novel – love, infidelity, an overbearing parent, an absent parent, a sibling rival – the finished result is always different. If you like family dramas, stop what you’re doing (actually, finish reading this post) and get your hands on the brilliant debut, Love All by Callie Wright.
“It’s the spring of 1994 in Cooperstown, New York, and Joanie Cole, the beloved matriarch of the Obermeyer family, has unexpectedly died in her sleep. Now, for the first time, three generations are living together under one roof and are quickly encroaching on one another’s fragile orbits. Eighty-six-year-old Bob Cole is adrift in his daughter’s house without his wife. Anne Obermeyer is increasingly suspicious of her husband, Hugh’s, late nights and missed dinners, and Hugh, principal of the town’s preschool, is terrified that a scandal at school will erupt and devastate his life. Fifteen-year-old tennis-team hopeful Julia is caught in a love triangle with Sam and Carl, her would-be teammates and two best friends, while her brother, Teddy, the star pitcher of Cooperstown High, will soon catch sight of something that will change his family forever.
At the heart of the Obermeyers’ present-day tremors is the scandal of The Sex Cure, a thinly veiled roman à clef from the 1960s, which shook the small village of Cooperstown to the core. When Anne discovers a battered copy underneath her parents’ old mattress, the Obermeyers cannot escape the family secrets that come rushing to the surface.”
While Love All might not have the same dry humour as Johnathan Dee’s A Thousand Pardons or Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements; the same sense of place as Lisa Klaussman’s Tigers in Red Weather; or the same elegant turn of phrase as Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, it does have the same carefully and beautifully constructed characters and finely detailed plot. Continue reading
It’s really not a Top Ten Tuesday without me bending the rules a little…
This week’s topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is all about favourite covers of books that you’ve read. It’s an ace topic as I have been known to judge a book by its cover. Rather than look back on jacket art that I have loved (and read), I looked at my TBR stack and picked out ten books that I bought based on the cover. Yes, I’m that shallow. Continue reading
I’ve had Annabel by Kathleen Winter and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides sitting in my reading stack for ages and yet the just released Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin is the first novel I’ve read about a hermaphrodite (referred to more commonly now as ‘intersex’).
It’s the story of Max Walker. He’s the ‘golden boy’ – attractive, intelligent, athletic, the perfect son, the perfect friend and the guy that all the girls at school have a crush on. Max lives with his parents, Karen and Steve, and his brother, Daniel. His mother, Karen, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, who works hard to maintain a facade of ‘having it all’. Steve is also a successful lawyer, so much so that he is running for Parliament.
“…..i don’t smoke pot. i can’t anyway, even if i wanted to, because of dad and Mum. They needed me to keep out of trouble, to be good. They are lawyers, and they work hard and are in the paper a lot…. People would write about us if i did something like that. Mum and i call it ‘doing a Prince Harry.’ ‘don’t do a Prince Harry on me’ she says. i wouldn’t do it anyway.”
And no, those are not typos, that’s a direct quote.
But not all is perfect in the Walkers carefully constructed lives. They have a secret. Max was born intersex. He identifies as a boy and has been raised as such. When a family friend abuses Max’s trust in the most horrific way, Max and his parents are forced to consider the nature of their well-kept secret. Continue reading
Yes, the world is in the grip of Gatsby-fever. Hooray!
I even noted a touch of Gatsby in tonight’s Eurovision semi-final (well-played Belarus).
Here are my top five Gatsby related things (that aren’t the book. Or the movie). Because we can never have too much Gatsby.
5. Gatsby manicure. I’m not a girly-girl but nail polish is my weakness. (via Guiltless Reading) Continue reading
I went through a stage where I was addicted to ‘mummy memoirs’. Because being up at 2am feeding a baby wasn’t enough – I had to read about it too.
By and large, I’ve moved on from mummy memoirs but a copy of Welcome to Your New Life by Anna Goldsworthy came my way and I read the first chapter. And then I read the whole book in one sitting. I enjoyed this book immensely from the very first page when a newly pregnant Goldsworthy, having been a vegetarian for 14 years, suddenly craves a sausage. And eats one.
“I do not just crave any old sausage, I crave this sausage: a stocky turd-like cevapi. Years of abstinence vanish, as my mouth remembers, my tongue remembers. The sausage’s loud clang against the tastebuds, of spice and flesh and fat.”
And then she tells her family she’s pregnant. I obviously don’t know Goldsworthy’s sister, Sash, but if I had a sister I’d like one like Sash. Sash gets a few scenes in the book but her opener, on hearing about Anna’s pregnancy is “Fuck off!” (presumably said with a “Get outta here” spin).
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about books dealing with tough subjects. I’ve read a number of truly remarkable books dealing with the kinds of issues usually filed under ‘tough’ – addiction, suicide, grief, terminal illness and so on. Instead of filling my top ten list with a range of tough issues, I’m focusing on one – autism.
I have a nephew with Asperger’s. Some things are particularly tough for him - playground politics, kids not playing by the rules and soon, all the crap that goes with being a teenager. Some people might not consider autism a ‘tough’ issue but I say cast your mind back to when you were little. In the world of kids where any differences are noted (loudly), it’s survival of the fittest. And that can be really hard.
Of course being a teenager is a different type of tough. So much of it is in the fine detail – sidelong glances, notes passed in class, ‘he said/ she said’ and knowing that wearing your collar/ your jumper/ your socks just so is cool and all the other ways is not. Navigating all this shit makes me stress for my kids, let alone for my nephew who will have to work a bit harder on ‘getting it right’.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion has proved a break-out hit in Australia and now the world (the title of this post is a quote from this fabulous book). Asperger’s and love are the main themes – The Rosie Project will make you think differently about both. Continue reading
Fact: I’ve never got back together (even for a moment) with an ex-boyfriend*. My motto is “The only break is a clean break”. This is pretty much my approach to everything – once I make a decision I don’t dwell on it, I forge ahead (for better or worse). Which is why I picked up Laura Dave’s novel, London is the Best City in America, a story about decisions and indecision.
The story begins with Emmy making what I considered a bold and decisive ‘clean break’ – she leaves her fiancée sleeping in a hotel room, the engagement ring on the pillow next to him, the unspoken words – ‘Is this as good as it gets?’ hanging in the air -
“.. Which left me with these constant questions – these awful, often avoidable questions – about what exactly I was willing to live without. In order to keep him. In order to not have to face the impossibility of another kind of life.” Continue reading
A week ago I mentioned that I planned to spend May clearing some of the titles in my NetGalley queue. Coincidentally, I stumbled across an ARC reading challenge over at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Terrific timing. Count me in. Hope this challenge comes with a guarantee that I won’t be distracted by shiny new releases.
First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea – it’s is a weekly meme where you share the first paragraph (or two) from a book you are considering reading.
I love lad-lit. I’m fairly sure the genre is yet to be sullied by stuff that’s churned out to keep up with demand but then again, maybe I’ve just managed to hit on the best of what’s on offer. Love Monkey by Kyle Smith shows great lad-lit promise – humour, an over-analysis of relationships and a comparison to High Fidelity. Yay! Continue reading
Given the number of books I haven’t read at all, it sometimes seems a bit mad re-reading particular books. But it is nice to revisit old favourites. And I always like to re-read a book if a movie version is on the way, particularly if the movie is based on a book by one of my favourite authors.
Which is why I’ll have to get my skates on for What Maisie Knew, due for release in the US this month. The movie, starring Julianne Moore, is a modern re-telling of the Henry James classic.
Also on the horizon is Tiger Eyes, based on the book by Judy Blume. Continue reading