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.
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
Sometimes when I’m reading a book I find that a particular element of the story resonates very deeply. It’s usually an element that isn’t the main theme of the story and therefore catches me off-guard.
Such was the case with Paula Keogh’s memoir, The Green Bell. It’s essentially a story about Keogh’s experience in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital in the 1970s. The events leading up to her admission (notably the death of a very close friend), what happens when she is there (she meets and falls in love with poet, Michael Dransfield who is being treated for drug addiction), and her life after hospital is the guts of Keogh’s story.
There’s no way out after all. I turn around and make my way back to M Ward. I’m worthless, pared down to nothing. I’ve come to the very end of possibility. Continue reading
I’m skipping a review of A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and instead suggesting that if you don’t already know this incredible story, see the film asap (note that the main difference between the book and film is that the book includes detail about Saroo’s time in India once he was reunited with his biological family, whereas the film ends with the reunion).
Film – Continue reading
Tie. Both were brilliant. Continue reading
Sometimes a book comes along at exactly the right time and it’s exactly the book you want to read. Such was the case with Georgia Blain’s Between a Wolf and a Dog.
The story takes place predominantly over one rainy day. Ester is a single mother to twin girls and works as a family therapist.
“It’s rare that she hears about love in her consulting room. Most of her clients talk of anger, failure, boredom, depression, conflict: the flipside of love.”
Although Ester spends her days helping others find happiness, her own family relationships are in disarray. She’s estranged from her directionless sister, April, and also from her ex-husband, Lawrence, whose reckless decisions are catching up with him. Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is desperate for her daughters to reconcile.
The delicacy and brilliance of this book is captured in the title, translated from the French phrase, ‘l’heure entre chien et loupe’. Literally, ‘the hour between dog and wolf’, it refers to twilight, the time when distinguishing between a dog and a wolf might be tricky. The title reveals the duality of Blain’s story – friend and foe; outward calm and inner turmoil; what to discard and what to keep; safety and danger; what we reveal and what we keep hidden. Continue reading
Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.
The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah Continue reading
When I was young, we had family friends that were in a unique situation – two families, each with two girls. The couples then swapped partners (not in a tawdry way, it was just how it worked out…), and then both had two more girls each. My family was friends with both families (pre and post swap) – one family lived down the road, I went to school with the kids from the other. It was this bizarre, fascinating mix of sisters, half-sisters, step-children and parents.
Those that have read Ann Patchett’s brilliant new novel, Commonwealth, will understand why I started with that anecdote. For those that haven’t read it, know that the first line is one of the most appealing I’ve come across in a long time –
“The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin.”
Hurrah! A story where gin is the protagonist in the first chapter. Continue reading
I haven’t been shouting from the rooftops about new releases this year – not because there’s been a lack of ace new books but because I’ve been focusing my reading on what’s been languishing in the TBR stack.
But thanks to the magic that is NetGalley, a few have come my way… This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the 2016 new releases that have made my heart sing. Continue reading
Although I love a good cry, stories about kids that are forced into an adult world by circumstance, are my undoing. It’s the small details – little kids getting their own dinner (cold baked beans because they’re not allowed to use the stove); kids missing school to care for younger siblings or their parents; fibbing to hide their home situation… these are the things that make my heart ache.
So Leon, the main character in Kit de Waal’s debut novel, My Name is Leon, was crushing. Leon is nine and his mother, Carol, is not coping with the birth of her second baby, Jake. Neither Jake’s father nor Leon’s father are on the scene and their neighbour, Tina, is kind but can’t give the family the emotional and financial assistance they need – Continue reading