Guest Review: The Lucky Galah – Tracy Sorensen

The Lucky Galah

The Lucky Galah

Tracy Sorensen

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781760552657

Description:

It’s 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Crouched around a single grainy set, radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare at the screen, transfixed, as Armstrong takes that first small step.

I was in my cage of course, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson’s story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight…

The Lucky Galah is a novel about fate. About Australia. About what it means to be human. It just happens to be narrated by a galah called Lucky.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Evan and Linda Johnson and their young daughter Jo drove from Melbourne to the small town of Port Badminton in Western Australia for Evan to take up the position of radar technician, communicating between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. It was the 1960s and the Moon landing was imminent – the installation of the gigantic Dish caused great discussion among the residents…

The Johnson’s moved into a home two down from the Kelly family. The children would become great friends – Marjorie and Linda became unlikely friends. Enter “Cocky” when Kevin Kelly acquired the galah as a pet for his children. Caged and untended, Lucky began her narration of the life and perks of her humans and own flock high above. And Lucky discovered her communication with the Dish – something all galahs were able to do apparently.

As life moved inexorably toward events already written, Lucky continued to keep the readers up to date with the sometime hilarious, always insightful comments whilst drinking tea and eating biscuits with Lizzie 😊

What a quirky, original and fascinating novel by debut writer Tracy Sorensen! The Lucky Galah captivated me from the start to the finish with its complete difference. I loved Lucky as we discovered her (yes she’s a female!) life story from tiny chick to how she became part of Lizzie’s life. Highly recommended – 4 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan AU for my ARC to read and review.

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Guest Review: The Paris Seamstress – Natasha Lester

The Paris Seamstress

The Paris Seamstress

Natasha Lester

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9781760293963

Description:

How much will a young Parisian seamstress sacrifice to make her mark in the male-dominated world of 1940s New York fashion? From the bestselling author of A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD and HER MOTHER’S SECRET

1940. Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine and a dream: to have her own atelier.

2015. Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.

Crossing generations, society’s boundaries and international turmoil, THE PARIS SEAMSTRESS is the beguiling, transporting story of the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter as they attempt to heal the heartache of the past.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Estella Bissette was a seamstress, working with her mother at the atelier in Paris. It was all she had known, having grown up with a needle in her hand and her mother’s fashion by her side. But Germany’s approach on France in 1940 saw Estella flee the only home she’d known, heading to Manhattan on the SS Washington – the last American ship to leave French waters.

When Fabienne Bissette arrived in Manhattan from Sydney for the Gala of her grandmother, Estella’s work in 2015, she was once again shocked at how her grandmother had aged. Ninety-seven years of age, she was frail – but her strength of mind and love for her granddaughter shone through.

But the recent death of her father had made Fabienne realise there were things she didn’t know about her family history – about her grandmother’s past. Would Estella explain it all to Fabienne? Or was it destined to remain in the past?

The Paris Seamstress by Aussie author Natasha Lester is, in my humble opinion, this author’s best novel to date. Based on fact (some of the characters existed, as do the buildings, some of which are central to the story); I feel at a loss to voice my thoughts…

‘When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.’

What can I say? This is a deeply emotional book which is heartbreaking, while being filled with courage and love; of secrets that were necessary during the German occupation of France – I don’t think I have ever read a book so profound and which made me feel so much. An outstanding novel which just makes me say to the author – Bravo! A 5 star recommendation.

With grateful thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read and review.

Post Script: The Cowgirl – Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl

The Cowgirl

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Random House

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143797265

 

Description:

Teddy Broderick has lived on her farm almost all her life, committed to the rhythms of the country – seeding, harvest, shearing and the twice daily milking of the cow her grandmother has looked after for years, but she dreams of another life, in the wide world away from the confines of her property.

 

She thinks she knows her home and its community inside out, until her grandmother Deirdre announces there is a house buried on the property, and Will Hastings, an archaeologist, is coming to dig it up again.

 

As they work together to expose Deirdre’s past to the light, the stories they tell bring them together and pull Teddy further away from her home.

 

But what is hidden in Deirdre’s childhood house that she needs to see again before she dies – and why? What is it that stops Teddy from living the life she truly wants? And will she ever find her freedom?

 

 

My View:

A uniquely rural Australian coming of age story that tips it hat at the #MeToo movement.

 

Anthea Hodgson writes empathetic characters that challenge societal pressures to confirm and be controlled. Sometimes there are small victories, though the scars form the many skirmishes take a long time to heal.  Ultimately this is an uplifting book that will bring a tear, all be it a happy tear, to your eye.

Post Script: The Portrait of Molly Dean – Katherine Kovacic

The Portrait of Molly Dea

The Portrait of Molly Dean

Katherine Kovacic

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760409784

 

Description:

An unsolved murder comes to light after almost seventy years…

 

In 1999, art dealer Alex Clayton stumbles across a lost portrait of Molly Dean, an artist’s muse brutally slain in Melbourne in 1930. Alex buys the painting and sets out to uncover more details, but finds there are strange inconsistencies: Molly’s mother seemed unconcerned by her daughter’s violent death, the main suspect was never brought to trial despite compelling evidence, and vital records are missing. Alex enlists the help of her close friend, art conservator John Porter, and together they sift through the clues and deceptions that swirl around the last days of Molly Dean.

 

 

My View:

What an outstanding read! In this book you will EXPERIENCE history, art, mystery, murder…

When I picked up this book I was enthralled by the cover art and then I started reading! I hadn’t read but a page or two and I KNEW this book was going to feature on my “Best Reads 2018”. Fantastic writing, locations that leap of the page.  An era that is succinctly captured; the socio economic environment, the mores, the fashion, the corruption, and the abuses of power. This novel is intriguing, you will devour the pages till the revealing end.  Plus I loved the characters.  And the dog. 🙂

 

Encore! More!!!!

 

 

In the Mail 17th February 2018

What a great week or two of new arrivals – my bookshelf is toppling over with the weight 🙂 Among these some great Australian women writers…now where to start? Any recommendations?

 

in the mail feb 17 2018

Post Script: Path to the Night Sea – Alicia Gilmore

Path to the Sea

Path to the Night Sea

Alicia Gilmore

Regal House Publishing LLC

ISBN: 9780998839844

 

Description:

What happens while we choose not to see? When we ignore the paper on the windows, the absence of a child, the menace of a neighbour? What happens behind the locked doors, in the overgrown yard, during the passing of the years? What happens in the silence, in the seclusion, in the darkness and the night? What happened to Ellie?

 

 

My View:

What a read! Alicia Gilmore is a writer to watch out for, I cannot wait to see what inspires her next novel.

 

This book has:

√  Drama and is a dark, brooding and poignant narrative.

√ Perfect pacing, you will devour this in one sitting.

√ The dialogue is authentic and chilling. The voices/the characters pitch perfect.

√ The locations leap off the page.

√ The protagonist’ situation will break your heart, yet there is no melodrama here. This work of fiction screams to me – this could happen, this has happened and recent new feeds sadly support my theory.

√ The writing is extraordinarily good – and this is a debut novel? WOW!

√ An element of optimism; tragic yet the light shines in.

 

Alicia Gilmore I congratulate you! And look forward to your next book.

 

Happy book publishing day.

Guest Post – On Writing Path to the Night Sea – Alicia Gilmore

Path to the Sea

Welcome Alicia Gilmore to my blog. I recently asked Alicia to talk about how she came to write her amazing novel Path to the Night Sea – here is what she shared with me.

 

On writing Path to the Night Sea

 

Path to the Night Sea started as a short story in a fiction class with Sue Woolfe. Sue had given the class a selection of photographs and objects to spark our creativity and give us a physical stimulus to write a short fragment. I remember a small glass perfume bottle and a photograph caught my attention. The photo featured a woman in profile, seated at a piano, her hands poised to strike the keys. There was a cat sitting on top of the piano, and I wondered if these were the two most important things in her life – music and her pet. I started to write about this woman who would sit and play, not looking out of the curtained window, but indoors with her cat. Her face in profile, her ‘good side’… The perfume bottle that perhaps had belonged to a woman who would never get old. A bottle that held scented memories… Ideas and elements came together and what is now a lot of Day One in the novel formed the original short story. Sue read the story, said I had written the start of a wonderful novel and she had to know what happened to Ellie. I realised so I wanted to know too.

The story became darker the more I delved into Ellie’s world. Seven days seemed the fitting structure for Ellie to be introduced to the reader and for her to seek her path, tying in with the religious dogma she’d heard from her Grandmother and Father. Listening to music by Nick Cave and Johnny Cash helped me establish the mood at times and gave me the impetus to embrace the flaws and the darkness within my characters, especially Arthur. When I was writing the first drafts, I was living near the beach and the waves, particularly during storms, formed a natural soundtrack. If I peered out from my desk, I could catch glimpses of the ocean. By the time editing was underway, I had moved to a house that backed onto the bush and had inherited a cat. Listening to the raucous native birds, possums scurrying up trees and across the roof at night, dealing with the odd snake and lizards, plus watching the cat, heightened those natural elements of the story.

I was concerned about and for my characters. I needed to ensure that Arthur in particular had moments, however fleeting, when he was ‘human’, and that Ellie, despite her circumstances, not be passive. Ellie had to find the courage to fight for herself or remain lost to the world forever.   I found myself going off in tangents in early drafts with minor characters and subplots but judicious readers and editing brought the focus back to Ellie and Arthur, and the confines of restricted world they inhabit.

I had thought of letting Ellie go one morning years ago when I woke up and heard the news about Elizabeth Fritzl kidnapped and abused by her father. In my drowsy state listening to the radio, the reality of her situation came crashing in and I wanted to put my humble writings aside. What was fictional pain in the face of such devastating reality? As the recent shocking events in California this week have shown – thirteen children being trapped and chained at home by their parents – a nondescript house on the street can hide the most unimaginable terrors. Path to the Night Sea is my way of using language to explore familial dysfunction, small town horror, and ultimately, hope.

Sea