Six Degrees of Separation – from The Slap to Me and You

It’s time for #6Degrees and truly, it’s easy to play (no rules, just bookish fun) – join in!

This month we begin with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. What can I say about this book except that if you want to start a heated debate at a dinner party, mention it! 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

Six Degrees of Separation – from This Book Will Save Your Life to The Blazing World

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It’s time again for my favourite meme. Based on the concept of six degrees of separation, Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith have created #6DEGREES, where bloggers share links between books in six moves. Check out the rules if you want to play along.

We begin the chain with This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes – I haven’t read it *sigh* but I do know that it’s an apocalyptic tale set in Los Angeles. Which brings me to California, a post-apocalyptic tale by Edan Lepucki (another book I haven’t read *heavy sigh*). Continue reading

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

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When I first started Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, I had flashbacks to Hustvedt’s The Blazing World. And I really couldn’t go back there (it was my only DNF for 2014). Flashbacks because the subject of both books is artists with baggage. I guess all artists need baggage, don’t they? Anyway, that’s where the similarities end. Where Hustvedt pontificates, Lamb simply tells a story. Continue reading

The Top 22 from the Best Books of 2014 – A List of Lists

best-books-2014

So before someone yells at me “Enough with the lists!”, I took that list of Best Books of 2014 – A List of Lists and I made another list – the books that appear most frequently on all of those lists.

Trawl through all the lists or save time by simply adding the 2014 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2014-Book-Lists-in-November top 22 books to your To-Be-Read stack. Continue reading

Top Picks for Book Groups

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I’ve mentioned my book group previously. I love them all dearly but they’re not flash at reading the book. That would drive some people mental but, after 15 years, I’m okay with it. On the upside, whenever my book group actually does talk about the book for more than a few minutes, the book was obviously a good pick.

Over the last month or so, two of my Twitter buddies have asked for book group recommendations. Here’s what I suggested (all being books that got my book group really talking) – Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

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It’s more on the ‘bookish’ side of things this week…

1. It’s almost time for the Melbourne Writers Festival. I’ve got tickets for Sonya Hartnett, Dave Eggers and some stuff for the kids. My wishlist is also eleventy billion miles long, so I’m just working out how I can put life on hold for two weeks while I go to #ALLTHEEVENTS.

2. The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2014 has been announced. There’s a couple on the list that I intend to read (the Hustvedt and the Nicholls) but I already know what I’m cheering for. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

Cozy-Classics-War-and-Peace

Christine at Bookishly Boisterous started this meme – try it! You might like it! (It’s not just for bookish blogs)

1. I missed this week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme which was all about reading resolutions. Given that I didn’t complete any of last year’s resolutions (with the exception of no.7 which involved buying more books), I didn’t even bother this year. However this is probably a good opportunity to mention War & Peace. I’ve never read it. I bought a copy. 2014 could be the year.

The image above is taken from the edition of War & Peace that I probably should have picked (if you’ve never seen the Cozy Classics series for babies, then quick). Continue reading

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

One of my very good friends and I have made a pact – should we find ourselves elderly and alone, we’re going to be flatmates. The plan came about when I was talking about my grandmother. She had resisted a move to a retirement village many years before and at age 89, had few friends still alive and was lonely. My friend (who is an occupational therapist and often works with elderly people) and I decided that there were many benefits in living with someone in your twilight years, aside from the obvious 4pm gin-and-tonics-and-Gossip-Girl-sessions companionship (think financial, security, health benefits). We’ve already thought through some details (while we still have all our marbles).

Which brings me to The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt. It’s the story of women who find themselves ‘alone’, albeit in different ways.  At the centre is Mia, a poet who has left her husband after discovering he was having an affair, or as he termed it, a ‘pause’ –

“Sometime after he said the word pause, I went mad and landed in the hospital. He did not say I don’t ever want to see you again or It’s over, but after thirty years of marriage pause was enough to turn me into a lunatic whose thoughts burst, ricocheted, and careened into one another like popcorn kernels in a microwave bag.” Continue reading