Post Script: The Drifter – Anthea Hodgson

the-drifter

The Drifter

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9780143797241

 

Description:

Cate Christie is a party girl, unable to commit to anything, until she is involved in a tragic accident that changes everything. To escape her guilt and her parents’ bitter disapproval, Cate leaves Perth for her Aunt Ida’s isolated farm in country Western Australia.

 

Henry is a drifter, a young swagman-like character who wanders onto the Christie family property and takes up residence in a disused shed. With secrets of his own, the last thing he wants is to get tangled up in Cate and Ida’s lives.

 

Against their own better judgement, the fates of Cate and Henry and Ida inexorably intertwine and they learn to face the realities of life, death and letting go.

 

A witty, charming and moving debut rural romance about what makes a good death and, more importantly, what makes a good life.

 

 

My View:

Debut Perth writer reflects on survivors guilt in a moving, fast paced most enjoyable coming of age read that ticks all the boxes.

 

Wonderful realistic characters

Natural and genuine dialogue

Local (Western Australian) settings – rural and city

Discusses many contemporary social issues including redemption and atonement, survivor guilt, end of life choices, the survival of small rural towns …

Has a fast paced narrative

Is mysterious and complex

Has an honest and trustworthy voice

Weaves into the narrative a few twists

And an ending that…will you will have to discover that yourself.

 

What more could you want?

Post Script: The Birdwatcher – William Shaw – Guest Reviewer

Please welcome guest reviewer – Bec: Audiobook and Book reviews at Audiothing

the-bird-watcher

The Birdwatcher

William Shaw

Quercus Books Riverrun

ISBN: 9781784297244

Description:

Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder investigation.

He is a murderer himself.

But the victim was his only friend; like him, a passionate birdwatcher. South is warily partnered with the strong-willed Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, newly recruited to the Kent coast from London. Together they find the body, violently beaten, forced inside a wooden chest. Only rage could kill a man like this. South knows it.

But soon – too soon – they find a suspect: Donnie Fraser, a drifter from Northern Ireland. His presence in Kent disturbs William – because he knew him as a boy. If the past is catching up with him, South wants to meet it head on. For even as he desperately investigates the connections, he knows there is no crime, however duplicitous or cruel, that can compare to the great lie of his childhood.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

 

Bec’s View:

This beautifully written book tells the story of Billy McGowan, the boy raised amidst “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland who then becomes William South, Police Sergeant and Neighbourhood Officer for the Kent Police. He lives his life alone and he lives quietly, he is also a birdwatcher. He and his birding companion Bob Rayner spend hours together, yet neither man has any clue of the secrets held by the other.

Until Bob Rayner is found dead, murdered in a most horrible and brutal way.

For Detective Inspector Alexandra Cupidi who has transferred from the Metropolitan Police, this is her first case in her new post. Despite knowing that Bob was a friend of Souths, she wants him to accompany her to the grisly crime scene. South is deeply affected by the sight of his murdered friend, there appears to be no explanation, no possible reason why someone should do this, yet South recognises the effects of rage when he sees it.

Despite having a murder to investigate, Cupidi is distracted, her teenaged daughter, Zoe, is having problems settling in to her new home and school. Zoe and South develop a friendship of sorts, they discover something in common, each ones mother had moved them to a place they thought safer, yet both mothers had their own troubles to leave behind.

The body count rises, one of the dead is a name from Souths distant past, Donnie Fraser, who as a young man had admired Souths violent father, what possible connection could there be between Fraser and the other deaths? Why does Cupidi order South to keep away from the investigation?

I enjoyed how the author skilfully wove in the stories of both the young Billy and the adult William, separately yet somehow seamlessly, the reader isn’t jarred when moving between the two ages and countries. The ending of a book is, of course important! For me, this book has two endings, difficult to explain without spoilers so I won’t attempt it, just to say that one of them came as a real surprise to me.

I do hold the faint hope of a William South series.

This is a book to buy in hardback, to keep and savour, to take out now and again to re-read. It’s a keeper.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus Riverrun for providing an Advanced Reader Copy of this book

Post Script: Undying: A Love Story – Michel Faber

Undying

Undying: A Love Story

 Michel Faber

Allen & Unwin

Canongate Books

ISBN: 9781782118541

RRP A$24.99

 

Description:

How can you say goodbye to the love of your life?

 

In Undying Michel Faber honours the memory of his wife, who died after a six-year battle with cancer. Bright, tragic, candid and true, these poems are an exceptional chronicle of what it means to find the love of your life. And what it is like to have to say goodbye.

 

All I can do, in what remains of my brief time,

is mention, to whoever cares to listen,

that a woman once existed, who was kind

and beautiful and brave, and I will not forget

how the world was altered, beyond recognition,

when we met.

 

 

 

My View:

How do you rate someone’s pain and anger and grief?

 

By the way the words touch your soul, by the way your heart aches as you read.

 

This is a an exquisitely personal, intimate study of cancer, dying, grief and the authors love for his now deceased wife; his life companion, his lifelong love…

 

Poignant, angry (justifiably so), yet at times romantic and tender. This is love in real life, in the everyday, in the moment – be it the ugly moments of cancer or the moments the lovers dance and twirl towards each other.

 

Beautifully written, brave and honest. The presentation is stunning

 

Post Script: The Peppercorn Project – Nicki Edwards

The Peppercorn Project

The Peppercorn Project

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan Australia

Momentum

ISBN: 9781760302306

 

 

Description:

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

 

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family’s best chance at a fresh start.

 

 

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he’s found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

 

 

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won’t rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

 

 

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

 

 

A gorgeous rural romance for fans of Fiona McArthur, Rachael Johns and Fiona McCallum.

 

 

My View:

Sited in a rural Australian town, I loved the attitude of “paying it forward” with an opportunity for four families to get a second chance to improve their current lifestyle and circumstances and at the same time instil some lifesaving “new blood” into a rural community, there is plenty of scope for action and personal drama here. This the perfect “pick me up” read; when you need something optimistic, positive, charming and with an obligatory happy ending (and one of the most delicious male love interests around), you will not be disappointed in this read.

 

Take note- this is not a book of purely froth and bubble. Nicki Edwards tackles many contemporary social issues within these pages: diminishing populations of small towns and the repercussions for the community – in particular the depletion of services, the process of grief and healing, drug dealing (and in particular the infiltration of “Ice” into communities big and small)…and the importance of “second chances.”

 

An enjoyable contemporary Australian rural read!

 

 

Post Script: A Single Breath- Amanda Apthorpe

A Single Breath

A Single Breath
Amanda Apthorpe
Atlas Productions
ISBN: 9780994182296

Description:
When the first hate letter arrives in the days after her patient, Bonnie’s death, obstetrician Doctor Dana Cavanagh reads it with shaking hands before placing it next to the small news article of the court’s verdict: not guilty.

Hate letters continue to trickle in, but one stands out from the others—a cryptic message with a tiny marble stone, its origin—Kos, Greece, the birthplace of Hippocrates. She had once proudly sworn his oath, “I will give not deadly medicine.”

Accompanied by her sister Madeleine, Dana follows the mystery of the letter to Kos. The arrival of two more letters, and the strange appearances of a woman, beckon her to Italy and England. Despairing for her sanity, Dana persists in her crusade to come to terms with being implicated in the death of another.

 

My View:
Some great analogies and references to mythology surrounding women, women as nurturers, women in nature, as creators, healers, women and giving birth etc mashed up with a little bit of mystery and spiritualism. This book is quite an interesting read but not quite the full on mystery I was expecting. More a book about self-awareness, self-discovery, blame, grief and coming to terms with the circle of life.
Some beautifully written passages and reflections on life/death and birth/re birth.

There is a very feminist tone to this narrative – women as supporters, healers and nurturers reclaiming the medicalization by men of women’s bodies, in particularly the process of birthing.

An interesting read.

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.