Tin Man by Sarah Winman is a simple story about two friends.
Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first meet. Their family circumstances, although very different, become a bonding point and their friendship grows over many years. However, from the beginning of the book, we know that there is a gap in Ellis and Michael’s shared history and the reasons for that break are slowly unravelled.
Winman moves the story back and forth over time, revealing the events that shaped the boys’ friendship. There are a number of twists in this relatively short novel and if I listed them, the story could be perceived as overly dramatic. In fact, it is quite the opposite – it is plausible, gently paced and Winman delivers the blows with a velvet hammer (brace yourself, there are bits to make you cry).
And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.
Recently, one of my counselling colleagues wailed, “Why are we always talking about mothers?!”
Because it’s our first ‘relationship’, and through it we learn how to get attention from others, and how to get the things we need. It’s fairly simple (and fairly easy to stuff up for a whole bunch of reasons).
I like memoirs, particularly those about mothers, which is why I picked up Richard Glover’s Flesh Wounds. Continue reading
Perhaps it’s just me but naming the main character ‘Anna’ in a story about an anorexic seems tone-deaf…
Yara Zgheib’s novel, The Girls at 17 Swann Street, focuses on a small treatment facility for women with eating disorders and in particular, Anna, an ex-ballerina.
Anorexia is the same story told every time by a different girl. Continue reading
I’m not usually one for the forced tone and repetitive structure of epistolary novels, however, I was hooked on Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives from the very beginning.
Almost twenty years after forbidding contact, Vita receives a letter from Royce, who was once her benefactor. Vita, a film and ethnography student in her youth, was one of his brightest protégées. Continue reading
I am painfully behind in my reviews – the longer they go unwritten, the less likely it is to happen. These reviews hardly do justice to some of the books I’ve read (sorry Magda) but at the very least provide me with a record. Continue reading
On February 7, 2009 – a day that would become known as Black Saturday – bushfires burned vast areas of Victoria (my home state). Extreme heat, high winds, low humidity, and severe drought combined to create the worst bushfire conditions in Australia’s recorded history (the heat from the fires was equivalent to 500 atomic bombs exploding).
Black Saturday resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bush-fire event. Across Victoria, 173 people died; more than one million animals (pets, wildlife and stock) perished; over 2,000 houses and 3,500 structures were completely destroyed; and whole towns were razed (Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong, Strathewen, and Flowerdale). The total area burnt was approximately half a million square kilomentres – to put that in perspective, the size of Spain.
The trauma can’t be measured.
Some of the fires were deliberately lit and the man responsible for starting the Central Gippsland fires is the topic of Chloe Hooper’s enthralling book, The Arsonist. Hooper gives a detailed account of the fires, the arson investigation, the arrest of a socially vulnerable man who had not previously been known to police, and his trial. Continue reading
Fraud, sham, or the definition of ‘reinvention’? I’ll get to that…
Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives by Helen O’Neill is unquestionably a beautiful book. I’d go so far as saying it’s one of the loveliest books I own. Continue reading
When I was fourteen, my best friend’s older sister said, “You know you like a boy if you think about him when you’re getting dressed.” Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler is the grown-up book version of those words (finding your way with unfamiliar rules). Continue reading
Sometimes, all the things you love combine in one perfect story. Such was the case with Turning by Jessica J. Lee. If you appreciate swimming, Berlin, hydrology (specifically limnology), the nuances in the German language, and memoirs, then read on (it’s not a niche audience, is it?!). Continue reading