01. We had our annual international night with friends last week. This year’s country was Argentina – empanadas, Quilmes, Provoleta, Malbec, big steaks, chimichurri, sweet potato jelly (!) and Argentina’s answer to chocolate ripple cake (before you go rushing to make this cake, know that is was almost unbearably sweet – I’ll stick with the empanadas and grilled cheese). Continue reading →
There’s no shortage of Holocaust literature, and yet every so often one story rises to the top of the best-seller lists – why is one story more ‘appealing’ than another? I don’t know. Why does one story capture attention over others? I don’t know. The current critics’ favourite is The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.
Morris has recorded the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in April 1942. When the guards at the camp discovered that Lale spoke several languages, he was put to work as a Tätowierer (tattooist), tasked with ‘numbering’ his fellow prisoners.
Day has become night, and still men line up to be numbered for life, be it short or long.Continue reading →
I dither writing reviews for books that I absolutely adored. It’s ludicrous. I should be shouting from the rooftops “EVERYBODY! READ KATE ATKINSON’S LIFE AFTER LIFE! IT’S A MARVEL!”
Atkinson’s carefully constructed story follows Ursula Todd, as she lives and dies over and over again. Ursula’s story begins in England, in 1910, when she dies at birth, the umbilical cord around her neck –
The little heart. A helpless little heart beating wildly. Stopped suddenly like a bird dropped from the sky. A single shot. Darkness fell.
And darkness falls multiple times – drowning, slipping off a roof, illness, gas inhalation, suicide. Continue reading →
Do not ask me why I kept reading William Boyd’s Sweet Caress, right up until the stupid end, but welcome to my second one-star review for 2018. I’ll get straight to the point (unlike Boyd).
Sweet Caress is the life story of fictional photographer Amory Clay and it begins in England, in 1908. The novel covers Amory’s childhood, her career as a photographer, her experiences during both World Wars and the Vietnam War, and her relationships. It’s astounding that a book about a female in an unconventional role (war photographer), could be so, so boring, Continue reading →
To be perfectly frank, the Australian gold rush history I learnt at school was dull. We suffered through it for the excursion to Sovereign Hill, of which the highlights were having personalised ‘Wanted’ posters printed and spending a vast amount of money on boiled lollies. I’m sure we covered stuff about living conditions, the growth of Ballarat, and the far-reaching effects of the miners’ protests about compulsory licences… I probably filed it under ‘Oh yeah, that was the Eureka Stockade‘, and moved on to Sovereign Hill’s chief attraction – panning for gold.
Imagine if I’d been taught from Clare Wright’s The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka? It’s a spectacular, riveting book that gives an account of the events leading up to the Eureka Stockade from the perspective of individual women on the gold fields. Until Wright’s book, women had been left out of the Gold Rush and Eureka story, despite the fact that they played a significant role and in turn shaped Victorian history. Continue reading →
When the best thing you can say about a book is “At least there weren’t bad sex scenes…”, it’s problematic.
Part cutesy novel, part biography, R. J. Gadney’s Albert Einstein Speaking explores the remarkable life of Albert Einstein, with the addition of a schoolgirl, Mimi, who accidentally dials his number. Continue reading →