Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

In my previous ‘before-children’ life, I worked in water management. The nineties were an interesting time in Victoria in terms of water resources – we shifted from simply river management to whole-of-catchment management; the importance of environmental flows were recognised; and paying for water that was collected on private property (in farm dams) was established. The changes don’t seem like much when I list them here but they took years to implement and had major implications for rural communities, legislation, and the way natural resources were managed.

What does this have to do with Anna Quindlen’s novel, Miller’s Valley?

Everything and nothing. Continue reading

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My Best Books for 2017

As I did last year, I’m paying less attention to four and five star ratings and more attention to the books that are still speaking to me. Continue reading

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

Unbearable Lightness is de Rossi’s story of her eating disorder (she suffered both bulimia and anorexia). Much of the book is focused on the ‘physical’ elements of her experience – dieting to fit into the modelling world that she became a part of from age 12, constantly under the scrutiny of a camera, the stress of wardrobe fittings. She goes into great detail about her exercise regime and what she ate (and vomited). The details are horrifying –

Continue reading

Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson

I won’t argue, there were parts of Eliza Robertson’s debut novel, Demi-Gods, that bordered on gratuitous. It’s important to mention that because some readers will abandon the book after they encounter a particular scene in the first chapter. Not me. I was hooked from page one, intrigued by the complex relationships and charmed by Robertson’s writing.

It’s 1950 and the lives of nine-year-old Willa and twelve-year-old Joan are transformed when their mother, a cocktail-swilling divorcee, invites her new lover and his two sons, Kenneth and Patrick, to stay at the family’s summer-house on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The attraction between Joan and Kenneth is immediate and as they pair off, Willa is left in the company of the sly and unnerving Patrick. Patrick both intrigues and repulses Willa and the story focuses on the complex power dynamic that unfolds between them during the six times they meet in the following decades.

In the intervals between, we didn’t exist. He didn’t exist to me. I didn’t exist to him. Continue reading

Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton

My close friends know that there’s always one or two stories from their past that I could hear again and again – stories that represent everything I love about them.

My close friends also know that I assign my exes ‘stories’ and that those stories are usually reduced to one defining thing, one throwaway description, one random fact.  The guy that didn’t eat vegetables (I could never come to terms with it and we broke up). The engineering student that had long, blond hair, much nicer than my own. The guy who tried the cliché yawn/arm around the shoulder trick at the movies. The rower who was a sloppy drunk. Continue reading