Post Script: The Golden Child – Wendy James

Amazing!!!

golden-child

The Golden Child

Wendy James

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752371

 

Description:

Can bad children happen to good mothers? A totally absorbing novel, for readers of Liane Moriarty, Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas.

 

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness…

Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.

This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

 

 

My View:

I had great difficulty reading this book. Let me explain; I love the cover, I love this author’s work, and liked the synopsis, I wanted to read this book.  I started reading, I put the book down. I felt so much apprehension, so much dread, so evocative is the writing I could not go on – it was the fear of what I knew was coming – something really, really bad.   I picked up the book again. I could not stop!

 

This book has probably the lowest level of violence in all the books I have read since I began reviewing, yet is it so powerful, the truth so malignant, so uncomfortable and confronting it will have you wondering if those are angina pains you are feeling, you are holding yourself so tense your muscles ache.

 

This narrative drives a nail into our psyche and scapes the scabs off all those hidden sores; the self-doubts about your parenting skills, guilt regarding paid work V being stay home mums, relationship guilt, do you love enough/do enough/could you try harder/do better/ be a better wife/mother and independent woman? Do you give enough attention to husband/child/ your other children? Do you play favourites?  Do you know your own children? How could I not know?  Is this my fault? It is my fault.

 

What a wonderful, confronting, pulse raising read!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Post Script: Bone By Bone – Sanjida Kay

Bone By Bone

Bone by Bone

Sanjida Kay

Allen & Unwin Australia

Corvus

Atlantic Books Ltd

ISBN: 978-1-7825396888

RRP A$29.99

 

Description:

How far would you go to protect your child? When her daughter is bullied, Laura makes a terrible mistake…

 

Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

 

But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

 

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

 

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

 

 

My View:

There are moments in this book that evoke so much tension, so much apprehension for the possibility of evilness to follow that I could hardly breathe!  I had to take a break from this book.

 

First there is a well baited hook – the opening sentence begins: It wasn’t until the train went past that she saw the small body lying in the long grass by the side of the wood.  From the very first sentence we are expecting the worst possible scenario.  Then the element of bullying is added which plays a substantial role in the overall plot and forces the blood pressure up again and adds to the expectation of bad things to come.  Further the reader is privileged to knowledge/behaviours/acts/suspicions (no spoilers here) that the protagonist doesn’t see at the time and the result – the tension is ratcheted up another notch.

 

Some fantastic writing to be found here.

 

A brilliant comment of bullying in society and a lesson here about bullying on social media and how violence often begets violence.

 

What would you do to protect your child?

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script- The Light On The Water – Olga Lorenzo

Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

The Light on the Water

The Light On the Water
Olga Lorenzo
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781925266542

Description:
A little girl disappears in the wilderness. Two years later her mother is arrested for her murder. A provocative and unflinching literary novel of love, guilt and grief set against the wilderness of the Australian coast.

Anne Forster, recently divorced and trying to find her feet, takes her daughter Aida on an overnight bushwalk in the moody wilderness of Wilson’s Promontory. Aida, who is six and autistic, disappears; Anne returns from the walk alone. Some of the emergency trackers searching for Aida already doubt Anne’s story.

Nearly two years later and still tormented by remorse and grief, Anne is charged with her daughter’s murder. Witnesses have come forward, offering evidence which points to her guilt. She is stalked by the media and shunned by friends, former colleagues and neighbours.

On bail and awaiting trial, Anne works to reconstruct her last hours with Aida. She remembers the sun high in the sky, the bush noisy with insects, and her own anxiety, seemingly as oppressive as the heat haze.

A superbly written and conceived literary work about the best and the worst aspects of family life, this story asks difficult questions about society, the media, and our rush to judgment. This is a thoughtful, provocative and unflinching novel in the tradition of Helen Garner, Joan London and Charlotte Wood, from a respected writer and renowned teacher of writing.

 
My View:
Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

At first I could hardly bear to continue reading, the pain that Anne feels and the pressure she faces is almost too much to bear. These are powerful pages, tension is high, my empathy freely given. Anne’s story is just so so sad. We can feel her love for her children and the pressure that mothers face when in the public eye, always judged – judged by appearance, behaviour, attitudes, judged by the behaviours of our children, deemed responsible for the behaviours of our children. So much pressure. The media then adds its own high dose of judgment. Too often we forget to ask – what is the point of this article, whose opinion is this and what are they trying to achieve; once words have been printed, read or spoken, they cannot be taken back.

Family and relationships are reflected upon. Motherhood is exposed – the good and the bad. This narrative is not afraid to ask the difficult questions about relationships; to probe and prick our collective and individual consciousness. Family violence is aired, almost normalised – are you upset by this – I hope so, I think that is the authors intent and to show that cycles don’t have to be repeated.

Power/powerlessness is also a theme of this narrative. Institutionalized power, in our courts, policing, schools, legal system, prisons, detention centres; the power imbalance and the dehumanising ways we treat people involved in such systems is shocking as are the judgements we are passively making within these systems. It seems like everyone is considered guilty, of… something, anything, before an individual has even had a fair hearing. Social media and online bullying reflects this attitude; so much anger, so much entitlement to anger is a worrying thing. We are all too quick to judge, to make assumptions, what ever happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Trial by media, all forms of media, is bought into question here.

This narrative explores so much of the ugly side of society but is not without some redemptive features/characters. Sandra gives us all hope. Sandra is open, loving and accepting. We need more Sandra’s. We need more friends like Linda to support us.

A wonderful exploration of grief, blame, judgements, the meaning of motherhood, of family, identity, marriage, responsibility, relationships, power and survival and love. Such power in the written words – your heart will be pierced by their thorns.

Post Script: Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

Girl Waits With Gun

Girl Waits With Gun

Amy Stewart

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925321326

 

Description:

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

 

New York Times Book Review

“Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mould. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic a airs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out that Constance has a knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element, which might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life.

 

Through Amy Stewart’s exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from a forgotten historical anecdote to an unforgettable historical- action heroine — an outsized woman not only ahead of her time, but sometimes even ahead of ours.

The real Constance was born in Brooklyn in 1878. According to newspaper reports, she was six feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. Over the years she had tried to study to be a nurse or a lawyer but her mother discouraged it. She once told a reporter that she had no interest in marriage which, in those days, would have almost certainly meant staying home. She said, “Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work if she wants to, provided she can do it.’’

 

 

My View:

A creative biography? Possibly. A historical crime fiction? The author comments in the Historical and Source Notes, Acknowledgments (p. 405) that this is a work of historical fiction based on real events and real people. And what a great read it is; it is a delightful character based narrative (the sort of narrative I really love), it has strong female protagonists (another tick of approval here) that are creating history by actively yet quietly and without fuss, leading a life that is not the proscribed for women in that era i.e. they are independent, they live without the protection of a man which defies the norm of the day (1914), and marriage is an option not likely to be discussed in their daily conversations. This are liberated women, living life quietly and respectfully, expecting to be treated as equals, an attitude that deserves an applause in any era.

 

Living quietly…until a bully makes life difficult and shooting lessons are required. Such an intriguing story, told with passion but without bloodiness or excesses but still evoking fear and tension whilst delivering threatening situations. Full of social commentary there are many lessons to be learned here. There is humour, there is life in this book and I just loved it. I think you will too. Constance, I have am very pleased to have met you, likewise Amy Stewart.

 

 

Post Script: Here We Lie – Sophie McKenzie

Cover - Here We Lie

Here We Lie

Sophie McKenzie

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471133183

 

Description:

On holiday with family and her adoring fiancé, Jed, Emily couldn’t be happier. But overnight, the idyllic trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of the group is found dead in what appears to be a terrible accident.

 

The devastated party returns to London to cope with their loss while trying to resume their normal lives. But new revelations shed a shocking light on the holiday tragedy and set Emily on a perilous journey to discover the truth about what happened.

 

Soon a terrifying series of threats and lies bring her face to face with the dark truths at the heart of her family – and into life-threatening danger…

 

 

My View:

If you are prepared to hang you suspension of disbelief on the coat rail in the hall way then proceed and enjoy. This is a narrative chock full of drama, paranoia and surprises and a good dose of heartbreak with an underlying useful social commentary on the power of social media and its role in bullying.

 

Of all the characters in this book I found the voice of Dee Dee the most intriguing and deserving of empathy; a child entering the teenage years, her body and hormones at odds with one another, her naivety and her sadness, a pawn in her parents efforts to hurt each other, Dee Dee is a character to make you think. Her story told through the watching of her privately made videos recorded on her phone are revealing and heartbreaking.

 

Sophie McKenzie is a writer who is the master of the surprise and unexpected reveal and she uses this skill masterfully here. I bet that you will not expect the ending – it is totally surprising.

 

 

 

Post Script: No One Needs To Know – Kevin O’Brien

Cover No One Needs No

No One Needs To Know

Kevin O’Brien

Kensington Books

Pinnacle

ISBN: 9780786031627

 

Description:

A SECRET WORTH KILLING FOR…

In July 1970, actress Elaina Styles was slain in her rented Seattle mansion along with her husband and their son’s nanny. When the baby’s remains were found buried in a shallow grave close to a hippie commune, police moved in—only to find all its members already dead in a grisly mass suicide.

 

AGAIN…

Now, decades later, a film about the murders is shooting at the mansion. On-set caterer Laurie Trotter ignores gossip that the production is cursed. But then people start dying…

 

AND AGAIN…

As Laurie digs deep into what happened all those years ago, the truth emerges more twisted than any whispered rumor, as a legacy of brutal vengeance reaches its terrifying climax.

 

 

 

My View:

The Pros – Scarily atmospheric – the sense of impeding violence and bullying was real and pulse raising. The night I read this I was home alone, well almost alone, I had two dogs with me, if not for their company and protection if need be, I would have stopped reading this book and left it for the daylight hours…in places this was creepy.

The intro was superb providing a great emotional hook – a mothers worst fear

The Cons – This narrative was complicated with back stories that became precursors to main events, at times it felt like this was three stories badly meshing together trying to flow as one. I don’t think my understanding of the multiple plot lines was assisted by reading this book in a pdf format on my ereader. I usually enlarge the font when I reading a novel on my ereader – this seems to then through all the page breaks/chapter breaks out the window and I think this lead to confusion on more than one occasion – where for example I was hearing the voice/story of one character and the next line was immediately in the view point of someone else – without a pause or obvious or break, very confusing…I found myself re reading pages often trying to work out what was happening. I also thought the narrative could have been more effective told with fewer words. I also had trouble suspending my disbelief on a few occasions.

 

Overall – I think if I had read this narrative in the shape of a physical book my understanding and therefore my enjoyment of the complex plot would have been greater. Kevin O’Brien excels in creating spooky atmosphere and psychological suspense and tension.

 

 

Post Script: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies – Fredrik Backman

“‘We want to be loved…Failing that, admired; failing that, feared; failing that hated and despised. At all costs we want to stir up some sort of feeling in to hers. Our souls abhor a vacuum. At all costs it longs for contact.’” (p. 308 Britt- Marie quoting Doctor Glas)

over My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Her Apologies

Fredrik Backman

Translation by Henning Koch

Sceptre; Hodder & Stoughton

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 978 1 444 775846

Description:

The hilarious, heart-breaking new novel by the author of the international bestseller A MAN CALLED OVE.

‘Granny has been telling fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember. In the beginning they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practise granny’s secret language, and a little because granny is just about as nutty as a granny should be. But lately the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on…’

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy. Standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa runs to her grandmother’s stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

So when Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has hurt, it marks the beginning of Elsa’s greatest adventure. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones-but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

My View:

Heart-warming, funny, acerbic, clever and best of all I love granny!

I love granny. Why you ask? With granny on your side you are shrouded in a cape of love. Everyone deserves their own superhero.

Granny says:

“(she) shouldn’t take any notice  of what those muppets think…because all the best people are different. “ (p.1)

“So sometimes the safest place is when you flee to what seems the most dangerous.”  (p.79)

“Only different people can change the world…No one normal has ever changed a crappy thing.” (p.82)

“Never mess with someone who has more spare time then you do.” (p. 180)

And granny (then) said “the real trick of life was that almost no one is entirely a shit and almost no one is entirely not a shit. The hard part of life is keeping as much on the ‘non shit ‘side as one can.” (p.305)    J