Guest Review : Her – Garry Disher

Her

Her

Garry Disher

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638541

 

Description:

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . .

Her name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father’s hand. She bides her time. She does her work.

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

A dark and unsettling tale from the turn of the twentieth century by a master of Australian literature.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Three years old she was when the scrap man came and paid her father nine shillings and sixpence. She was chosen over the rest of her siblings; suddenly she belonged to the scrap man while memories of her family faded. Living in a dilapidated jumble of belongings, her name was You; there was Wife and Big Girl – all cowered when the scrap man was angry.

Seasonally the horse was harnessed to the cart and they ventured out to sell, buy, steal and trick – meandering across the countryside, remembering where not to go if they’d been shunted away last time. Whenever there was a pub nearby the scrap man drank their measly pennies until there wasn’t enough for food. Then he would fly into a rage and beat Wife.

Back at home Wife, Big Girl and You spent their time making things from scrap metal for their next trip through the countryside; while the scrap man drank and womanised. What would happen to the little family? Would You be able to escape? He’d always threatened to kill her if she tried…

Her by Aussie author Garry Disher is set in the bush near Bendigo in Victoria at the turn of the century and is a tale of utter despair, bitterness and how the nameless young women coped at the hands of one unscrupulous and evil man. This is completely different to anything the author has written before, and in my opinion he’s nailed it. A master at his craft, Garry Disher certainly knows how to weave a tale, and Her will stay with me for a long time. A highly recommended 5 star read.

 

Post Script: Wimmera – Mark Brandi

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

Wimmera

Wimmera

Mark Brandi

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638459

 

Description:

In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

 

Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

 

Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man’s shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

 

Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.

 

Wimmera is the 2016 Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger (UK).

 

 

My View:

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

I guess you can say I am intuitive, I can read people (mostly) or maybe read moods is a better explanation – a survivor’s skill, an empathetic skill. I notice things, things that can make me feel uncomfortable, little things, an attitude, a facial expression, often  something intangible, a prickling of the skin… a niggling feeling that something isn’t right, a warning, a take care or get out of here kind of thing. Reading this book I was on high alert, all my intuitive cells were screaming – NO!!! Get out.

 

My intuition was not wrong.

 

The prologue sets the scene for a very intense read. A discarded wheelie bin, lid screwed down tight. The imagination starts to process many scenarios…none of them good.

 

The tension continues to build, by page seventy I was pretty sure what was going on or about to. I put the book down and had a little break. A few days later I picked up the book and continued. With subtle hints, oh so subtle, this authors says so much – this is such powerful writing!

 

Powerful, dark, intense, painfully exquisite writing. Less is more.  Once you read you cannot unread. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Eliza Henry Jones Talks About Her Novel Ache

Welcome author of In the Quiet and Ache. “Eliza Henry-Jones was born in Melbourne in 1990. She was a Young Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in 2012 and was a recipient of a Varuna residential fellowship for 2015. She has qualifications in English, psychology and grief, loss and trauma counselling. She is currently completing honours in creative writing – exploring bushfire trauma – and works in community services. She lives in the Dandenong Ranges with her husband and too many animals.” http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460750384/#sm.000013x3sti4gof8ssqbvqu70beyi

 

I recently read Ache and was seduced by the emotions and the poignantly written characters; individuals, families, communities, animals and the landscape  – a vivid and bold major character in this novel. The compelling writing will touch all that read it. I highly recommend this read.

Listen to Eliza  here:

 

 

Caravaning Company

Travel = husband, dog, 5th wheeler caravan, beautiful scenery,  wild dolphins and books:)

Augusta-2017 Garry & Bob

Bob the Dog enjoying the sites and smells of holidays.

Dolphins

Dolphins playing in the river – you had to be there to appreciate it 🙂

The Animators

The Animators – Five star reading

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – a fabulous read.

The Unfortunate Victim

The Unfortunate Victim – a great Australian historical crime fiction read.

What more could you want?

 

The books I read in 2016

The books I read in 2016

Rachel at The Perth Project Shares the Books She Read in 2016

The Perth Project

In case you didn’t know, I am a certified #booknerd. I love to read and have for as long as I can remember; my bookshelves are overflowing, there are piles of books all around my house, I can find a quote from a favourite book for any occasion, and I just can’t stop buying books despite already having  SO MANY that need to be read.

In 2015 I set myself a challenge of reading a certain number of books and failed miserably. In 2016 I set myself a much more realistic goal of reading 25 books, and I’m happy to say I smashed that goal, finishing my 35th book just before New Year’s Eve.

And because I am always curious about what other people are reading, here are the books I read in 2016:

View original post 513 more words

Best Contemporary Reads/Literary Reads of 2016

I read so many great books last year and this category – literary fiction/contemporary fiction ( and yes is does crisscross  over a few other genres, but some books deserve more than one mention!) If you pick up any one of these books you will not be disappointed, links to my reviews are included. let me know if you enjoyed any of these suggestions.

 

Between A Wolf and a Dog

Between A Wold and A Dog

Georgia Blain

An Isolated IncidentAn Isolated Incident

Emily Maguire

music-and-freedom

Music and Freedom
Zoe Morrison

Like I Can Love
Like I Can Love

Kim Lock

Black British

Black British

Hebe de Souza

Work Like Any Other

Work Like Any Other

Virginia Reeves

Undying – A Love Story

Michael Faber

the summer that melted everything Scribe

The Summer That Melted Everything

Tiffany McDaniel

Sugar And Snails

Sugar and Snails

Anne Goodwin

The Light on the Water

The Light On The Water

Olga Lorenzo

How Not To Disappear

How Not to Disappear

Clare Furniss

Post Script: Music and Freedom – Zoë Morrison

Domestic Violence/Intimate Violence…and so it begins; “And instead of thinking this is unfair, and he is monstrous, I was starting to think, no, I am not very good at this, not at all, I must be such a disappointment. And to start to think such things, was almost the worst part.”(p.142)

music-and-freedom

Music and Freedom

Zoë Morrison

Penguin Random House Australia

Vintage

ISBN: 9781925324204

 

Description:

A gripping and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Elizabeth is Missing and the work of Elizabeth Harrower.

 

I have no use for forgiveness, not yet. But other ideas like that, kindness, for example, I think that is fundamental. Resurrection;

I like that too. And love, of course, love, love, love.

 

Alice Murray learns to play the piano aged three on an orange orchard in rural Australia. Recognising her daughter’s gift, her mother sends Alice to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the rest of her childhood. Then she’s offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, and on a summer school in Oxford she meets Edward, an economics professor who sweeps her off her feet.

 

Alice soon finds that Edwards is damaged, and she’s trapped. She clings to her playing and to her dream of becoming a concert pianist, until disaster strikes. Increasingly isolated as the years unravel, eventually Alice can’t find it in herself to carry on. Then she hears the most beautiful music from the walls of her house …

 

This novel’s love story is that of a woman who must embrace life again if she is to survive. Inspiring and compelling, it explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music and love.

 

 

In breaking news:  The winner of The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2016 is Music and Freedom by Zoë Morrison.

Music and Freedom is Morrison’s first novel. Set over a period of 70 years, it is a profound and moving portrait of one woman’s life, ranging from rural Australia in the 1930s to England in the modern day. In the tradition of Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett, Music and Freedom digs deeply into the marriage, relationships and ambitions of its central protagonist, Alice. The novel examines what it means to suffer regret and heartbreak, to make difficult choices and live with the consequences, and to find hope and passion in your darkest hour.

 

Guest judge Maxine Beneba Clarke says, ‘Exploring themes of love, loneliness, and the price of artistic expression, Music and Freedom is an ambitious and considered debut novel. Morrison’s characters are vividly drawn, and their relationships portrayed with exquisite sensitivity. The novel is engaging and structurally sound. Morrison writes about sound and music with a joy and poetry even the unmusical can appreciate – providing a stunning and heartfelt counter to the dark relationship that forms between the two main characters. Music and Freedom is challenging, stylistically sure, accomplished, and consistent. Above all though, it is simply a good story, beautifully written.’

The Prize judges were united in considering the novel a sophisticated and intelligent work of fiction that demonstrated the author’s keen eye for detail and her extraordinary ability to write about classical music. The judges felt the novel to be deserving of a wide readership, both within Australia and overseas. Mark Rubbo, managing director of Readings, described Music and Freedom as a ‘stimulating, thought-provoking and immensely satisfying book’.     http://www.readings.com.au/the-readings-prize-for-new-australian-fiction

 

 

My View:

Domestic Violence/Intimate Violence…and so it begins; “And instead of thinking this is unfair, and he is monstrous, I was starting to think, no, I am not very good at this, not at all, I must be such a disappointment. And to start to think such things, was almost the worst part.”(p.142)

 

 

This is a poignant look at relationships, intimate violence, isolation and resurrection – a very powerful read. Through most of the book I was filled with a deep sadness… a deep brooding sadness reflective of the emotions and situations I was reading about. The portrayal of domestic violence/intimate violence was subtle and so accurate my heart ached for the protagonist, Alice. Yet the author does not wallow in angst on these pages, the control over and violence is intelligently handled and juxtaposed against the wondrous joy, connections and succor that music brings Alice until that too is manipulated and used like a weapon against her.

 

Alice’s journey, her resurrection, is uplifting and bittersweet. Music revives her. Love uplifts her.

 

This is a read in one sitting, deeply moving, lyrical, musical and wonderful read!