I feel like I’ve read lots of books where art (in its various forms) is integral to the plot. Here are my favourite art-lit picks – Continue reading


Six Degrees of Separation – from Picnic at Hanging Rock to Love in a Cold Climate

It’s time for #6degrees. It’s unquestionably the least demanding bookish meme on the interwebs, so join in!

This month we begin with Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (thanks to Brona for the suggestion). My first link is to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run. That might seem an unlikely link but I’ve seen Springsteen twice in the last few years, and both times Hanging Rock was the backdrop. Continue reading

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

I’ve been wondering if ‘art-thriller’ is a genre… I’m thinking books such as What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and my latest read, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. Why does the art world make such a good backdrop for fiction? Perhaps because it involves creativity, big personalities, money, glamour, sacrifice and poverty? Or maybe I’m over-thinking it and creating tenuous links between these books…?

A rare painting, titled ‘At the Edge of the Wood’, provides the link between three separate places, times and characters in this tightly told cat-and-mouse story. The painting is by Sara de Vos, a Dutch artist of the Golden Age and the first woman to be accepted as a Master painter into the Guild. Fast forward to New York in the late fifties, when the painting hangs on millionaire Marty de Groot’s bedroom wall. Meanwhile, struggling Australian doctorate student, Ellie Shipley, is living in Brooklyn and making ends meet by doing art restoration work…and a forgery. Smith brings the story to the present day where, at an art exhibition in Sydney, the pasts of Sara, Marty and Ellie collide. Continue reading

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

On paper, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, has all the hallmarks of a great story (for me, anyway) – the eighties, New York, and the interwoven lives of a group of people (who you soon discover are all connected to the blossoming Soho art-scene). While the book didn’t quite meet my neon-bright-skyscraper-high expectations, it was certainly a good read.

The story is centered around three main characters – James Bennett, an  art critic; Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past; and Lucy Olliason, a small-town beauty and Raul’s muse. There are other important characters – an influential gallery owner, James’s wife, a lost boy, and Raul’s sister but the story is predominantly told from three points-of-view.

The character of James is spectacular and fantastically odd. He has a condition known as synesthesia, which means the things he sees and feels, significantly art, are translated to colours and smells.

“…a brain in which a word was transformed into a color, where an image was manufactured into a bodily sensation, where applesauce tasted like sadness and winter was the colour blue…” Continue reading

Top Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR


2016, the year of buying no books, does not mean the year of no new releases for me. Bless you and your generosity, publishers.

Here are ten ARCs hovering near the top of my staggering TBR stack –

1. Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma – twentysomethings in New York. Brilliant. Continue reading

Soon-to-be-released Reading Roulette


Onward I go with the Christmas in Summer reading challenge (Hot Little Hands won the last round and it’s next on my reading list) – this time I’m picking from books that are soon-to-be-released. These ARCs are doing the rounds – which one should I read first?