Book reviews

One Punch by Julie Fison

One Punch is Australian author Julie Fison’s first adult novel.

The story was told in alternating chapters by Yasmin and Evie, who were the mothers of two teenage boys.

The story began with Yasmin, who was skiing with friends in Colorado when she received a phone call telling her that her son, Daniel, was in hospital, unconscious after a one punch attack.

One punch attacks, otherwise known as ‘king hits’ or ‘coward punches’ occur when an attacker knocks their victim unconscious, leaving the victim at risk of further injuring their head when they hit the ground. These types of attacks have been all over the news in Australia in recent years after a spate of deaths and serious injuries occurred around nightclub areas. Offenders face tough penalties and can be imprisoned for 20-25 years if their victim dies.

Yasmin immediately made her way home to Australia to be by Daniel’s bedside, unsure of what condition she would find him but hoping desperately that he would survive the attack.

The alternating chapters were told by Evie, who was the hard-working single mother of Brody. The boys were in the same year at school and both were obsessed with cricket, but they were not friends. Daniel was the captain of the cricket team, popular with his peers and liked by the world, while Brody, who appeared to have an Autism spectrum disorder, alienated everyone around him with his obsessive need for precision.

Once Daniel began to recover Yasmin became consumed with finding her son’s attacker.

Evie suspected almost from the beginning that Brody had assaulted Daniel and instantly went into protective-mother mode, hiding evidence that placed Brody in the vicinity of the attack. When Brody confessed to his mother that he had assaulted Daniel, Evie doubled-down and refused to admit that Brody was responsible.

I didn’t find anything to like in any of these characters. Daniel was a bully. Brody’s nit-picking personality made him unlikeable. Yasmin was condescending and unpleasant and Evie, who refused to do the right thing, was perhaps the worst of them all. Although Evie was a nurse, she didn’t seem to recognise that her son desperately needed help with his social skills, and her morals were so far off that they were laughable. Both Yasmin and Evie had such enormous blind spots when it came to their respective sons that neither mother recognised that Daniel and Brody were both horrible boys.

The story dragged a little and the constant flipping back and forwards between the two women became somewhat repetitive. Both seemed to come to a realisation of sorts about their sons by the end of the story, but the subject matter wasn’t really to my taste.

My purchase of One Punch continues my New Year’s resolution for 2023 to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of this year (March).

The Countess from Kirribilli: the mysterious and free-spirited literary sensation who beguiled the world by Joyce Morgan is a biography of writer Elizabeth von Arnim, who was born Mary Beauchamp in Sydney, Australia. I read The Enchanted April by von Arnim many years ago and at the time was delighted by the writing and the humour in the story. I still get the giggles thinking about an embarrassing incident that a character in the novel experienced after being surprised by volatile bath temperatures.

Elizabeth von Arnim’s Australian connection is quite loose, as by the age of three her parents relocated to London where Mary, or May as she was known as in her family, grew up.

As a young woman she married a much older German aristocrat and went to live with him in Berlin, later moving to his estate in Nassenheide where she wrote the semi-autobiographical Elizabeth and her German Garden in between frequent pregnancies. The book sold well and as it had been published anonymously, set the media off on a chase to learn the author’s identity. May published subsequent books as ‘Elizabeth’ but she was eventually outed by the media as their author.

By this time May and her husband had four daughters despite the enormous strain that pregnancies put on her tiny frame, but her husband was desperate for a son. Their fifth child was a boy, after which time May was better able to avoid her husband and as such, further pregnancies. One of her later books, The Pastor’s Wife contained grueling descriptions of childbirth which were most likely based on her own experiences.

Elizabeth (as she later called herself) moved in literary social circles which led her to engage Hugh Walpole as a tutor for her children (reading between the lines, she bullied the future writer) and later, E.M. Forster as her assistant. I recently read A Room With A View and am now wondering if any of the female characters in Forster’s novels were based on Elizabeth, especially those with sharp wits and dominating personalities.

After the death of her first husband Elizabeth married Frank Russell, a British Earl with whom she had a turbulent relationship. They separated after three years but never divorced. Her novel Vera is said to have been based on their disastrous marriage.

Elizabeth also had an affair with H.G. Wells and with Alexander Frere, who was thirty years her junior. Frere later went on become a publisher at William Heinemann Ltd and when he married, Elizabeth became godmother to his daughter. Continuing with her practice of fictionalising her own experiences, Elizabeth’s novel Love tells of an affair between an older woman and a younger man.

This biography includes snippets of letters written by Elizabeth’s father which show him to have been an engaging writer, too. Talent obviously ran in the family as her cousin was New Zealander writer Katherine Mansfield.

Based on where Elizabeth lived her life, I think using the Sydney suburb name Kirribilli in the title of this book was a stretch. The writing style used in this biography reminded me of reading a newspaper article and sometimes became slightly dull with too many uninteresting facts.

The Countess from Kirribilli shows Elizabeth to have been charming, enormously clever and talented, but also as someone who could be merciless towards others. I was left with the feeling that I would prefer to read Elizabeth von Arnim’s novels rather than be friends with someone who wouldn’t hesitate to skewer the people around them if she was in the mood to make fun of them, or worse still, rip them to shreds when she was feeling bad-tempered.

Finally I get what other people see in E.M. Forster’s writing! I loved A Room With A View! I even liked some of the characters in it! E.M. Forster has more than redeemed himself in my eyes with this fabulous story, after making me suffer through A Passage to India and Howard’s End.

Don’t get me wrong, there were characters in A Room With A View who I disliked and felt annoyed by. But I am convinced that the author wrote these characters on purpose to be annoying and horrible and to have them annoy and be horrible to the characters who I liked.

The heroine of this story was Lucy, a young, upper-middle class English woman who eventually realised she could shake off the old-fashioned values that she was expected to live by.

The story began with Lucy travelling in Italy, chaperoned by her passive-aggressive (annoying and horrible) cousin Charlotte. The pair arrived at their accommodation in Florence and were given rooms that looked into a courtyard rather than onto the river Arno despite being promised rooms with a view. Charlotte complained about their rooms in the hearing of another guest, Mr Emerson, who offered to swap rooms, saying that he and his son George did not value the view as much as the two women would. Charlotte was offended by Mr Emerson’s manners and could see that the unconventional Emersons were not socially acceptable to the other English guests, but in spite of her reluctance to be beholden to someone she didn’t want to associate with, they exchanged rooms and Charlotte and Lucy got their view.

Lucy and George were thrown together while sight-seeing in Florence and experienced a life-changing moment together when a man was killed in the street. Later, on another sight-seeing trip where they became separated from the rest of their party, George unexpectedly kissed Lucy. Charlotte witnessed the kiss and hustled Lucy off to Rome.

The setting then moved to Lucy’s home in Surrey, where she lived with her mother and younger brother. On her return to England Lucy became engaged to Cecil, a snob who made no secret of looking down on Lucy’s family, her home, her friends and her community. When George and Mr Emerson came to live in their neighbourhood, Lucy got to know them better and eventually realised that she did not have to live her life according to the values of those around her.

I found Lucy, her mother and brother, the Emersons and several other characters in this story to be very likeable. Lucy’s mother and her much-younger brother were funny and wise while Mr Emerson and George had the strength of character to live their lives according to their own unconventional values.

On the other hand, Charlotte was dreadful, small-minded and often used passive-aggressive tactics to achieve her own ends. Cecil was malicious. Other characters were gossipy, rude and hypocritical.

Whatever their manners or values, all of the characters became very real to me. I enjoyed them very much, along with the glorious settings, the humour and the wonderful writing used to tell Lucy’s coming-of-age story.

A Room With A View was book forty-six of my Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics before my challenge end date of August 26, 2023.

I picked up my copy of The House on the Hill by Emmeline Morrison at an op shop (charity shop) as I was intrigued by the distinctively 1960s-style artwork on the cover.

I hadn’t heard of this author previously so was surprised to find approximately 70 book titles she had written on one of the inside pages. The House on the Hill had been published in 1966 for The Romance Book Club of Charing Cross whose other authors were listed on the back fly-cover and included Barbara Cartland.

The House on the Hill wasn’t the soppy romance that I had expected. Instead, it was the story of an elderly woman returning to England during the 1960s only to find that the elegant and gracious home she grew up in had been pulled down to make way for flats. On meeting with an old friend from childhood they reminisced about playing with other local children from their class in the gardens of the Regency House. In particular, Catherine wondered what had happened to Larry Eliot, who been her ‘knight’ when she was a child.

Catherine’s story then returned to the 1920s when at the age of 29, her Great Uncle Robert bequeathed the Regency House and his entire estate to her.

As it turned out, Catherine’s Great Uncle Robert had also been Larry’s grandfather, although he hadn’t married the beautiful Indian woman that he gotten pregnant because of his Victorian attitude about their differences in class. Larry had a wild streak and after being caught in a crime, had been disinherited. Larry then lived on his wits until he learned that Catherine had inherited everything and was unmarried, so he decided to try his luck with her.

Catherine wasn’t stupid but she fell in love with Larry despite knowing that he was unreliable. It wasn’t long before their marriage ended on a sour note but luckily for Catherine, the Regency House and all of Great Uncle Robert’s money were still in her name.

Although there was something of a happy and realistic ending, this story was generally unhappy. When I look at the cover art, I don’t think Catherine looked particularly happy either as a young or as an older woman.

The characters constantly harped on about Victorian values and class status which seemed terribly out-of-date to me, but the story was interesting. I read the story in the course of an afternoon and enjoyed my little bit of time-travel.

All That’s Left Unsaid is the debut novel of Australian author Tracey Lien.

The story is set during the 1990s in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. Cabramatta then and now has a large Vietnamese population, many of whom migrated to Australia as a result of the Vietnam War. During the mid-1980s to the late 1990s Cabramatta was known for drugs, gang wars and for the assassination of John Newman, who represented Cabramatta in the NSW State Parliament.

All That’s Left Unsaid began with Ky Tran’s family having been devasted by the recent death of her brother Denny while at a restaurant celebrating his high-school graduation with friends. Ky returned home from Melbourne where she was working as a journalist to support her family through the funeral and visits from their community, although very few family friends actually visited as they didn’t want the Tran family’s bad luck to rub off on them.

Ky’s father asked her to find out what had happened to Denny, but when she learned from the police that her parents had not allowed them to carry out an autopsy she was furious. The police officer Ky spoke with gave her a list of the names of people who were at the restaurant at the time and she started interviewing them, although soon found that no one was willing to risk saying anything of use to her because of their fear of the gangs.

Ky found it impossible to believe that her brother, who had been nerdy, good-hearted and a brilliant student, had been involved with the heroin trade, but her investigations into Denny’s death led her to doubt everything she thought she knew.

Most of the chapters followed Ky as she went about her investigation, but some followed other Vietnamese-Australian characters who were at the Lucky-8 Restaurant when Denny died.

Ky’s frustrations with her own hard-working mother were echoed throughout the story in her frustration with the entire Vietnamese community. Ky and her mother butted heads constantly, partly because they were mother and daughter, but partly because of their very different life experiences. Ky’s parents had been traumatised by the Vietnam war and by their time in refugee camps, but as migrants they remained fiercely loyal to Vietnamese culture and language, while Ky wanted to be Australian, speak English and fit into a broader Australian life.

Who murdered Denny was revealed to the reader about half way through the book, but learning why he was murdered didn’t become known until the end of the story. Despite Denny’s murder, the story is more about family relationships and the Vietnamese community in Cabramatta during the time the story was set. While I didn’t feel emotional about any of the characters I did gain a better understanding of the fears that they had. I learned that in some circumstances parents use their children as interpreters because of their fear of being racially abused because of their own poor English, and that PSTD causes issues for generations to come. I learned that in Australia there were (and possibly still are) some places where parents tell their children to run home after school as fast as they can and when they get there, to lock the door behind them.

All That’s Left Unsaid was a visit to an Australia that I didn’t recognise, but one which was well worth the effort. I am looking forward to reading future books by this author.

My purchase of All That’s Left Unsaid continues my New Year’s resolution for 2023 to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of this year (February).

Catch The Moon Mary by Australian author Wendy Waters began with an unusual idea, that of the archangel Gabriel flying across the Pacific Ocean to Australia searching for someone he could use to spread his message. In the Bible, Gabriel acted as God’s messenger by visiting the Virgin Mary to tell her she would give birth to a son, Jesus.

A single note of music from Mary, a child in Sydney was enough for Gabriel to know that she was the person he had been hoping to find. Mary wasn’t particularly surprised to learn that the visitor to her bedroom was an angel as she was in the habit of leaving gifts on her windowsill hoping to entice fairies to visit her.

In exchange for protecting Mary from her father, who had subjected her to sexual abuse from a young age, Gabriel secured Mary’s promise to work with him to eventually share her music with the world.

Soon after Gabriel’s intervention, Mary’s father left her mother, never to be seen again.

As Mary grew up her music became increasingly mesmerising, although once she was old enough to leave school Mary’s mother, who wanted job-stability for her daughter, encouraged Mary to train to become a paralegal. In due course, Mary entered the work force.

Before long though, Gabriel became impatient for Mary to honour her promise to him and began killing those who he saw as standing in his way to force Mary to do what he wanted.

Although it was never said, Mary appeared to be autistic. She didn’t have friends or lovers, and during her first job interview she explained to her would-be boss that she didn’t understand jokes. She heard music around other people and one of her coping mechanisms when anxious was to play the music she heard in her head on an invisible piano. In many ways Mary was as much a victim of Gabriel, who had manipulated her for his own ends, as she had been of her own father as a child.

Gabriel’s character was also quite complex. He had been adored in Florence by the many women who had loved him over the years and by artists such as Da Vinci, who had wanted to paint him. Gabriel had been away from Heaven for so long that it came as a shock to him when he eventually returned there and discovered that God himself had given up and left to make another world somewhere else. Gabriel had prided himself on having assisted God in creating the world and he took his responsibility for spiritually saving the world very seriously. He was certain that through Mary’s music he would be able to restore God to this world. It was an interesting twist in Gabriel’s character that he was prepared to murder human beings in order to complete his task.

Other characters in this story besides Mary had also suffered abuse similar to hers, while others struggled with mental illnesses, substance abuse and addiction.

I loved that each chapter began with a musical term and an explanation of that term, for example, the first chapter, which introduced Gabriel, Mary and their story to the reader was the Overture, while the last chapter was of course the Finale. In between, the chapters were titled Fantasia, Dissonance, Spirito, Grandioso and eventually, Dolce. The story advanced in each chapter according to the meaning of the musical term in the title.

As one of the main themes of Catch The Moon, Mary was the sexual abuse of the main character as a child this story will not suit every reader, however I was left with a sense of hope. Knowing that for Mary, her beautiful music had been more important and precious to her than anything that had been done to her was also a comfort.

I can imagine Catch The Moon, Mary as a film with a glorious soundtrack. The settings used in the story, from Sydney, Florence and various concert halls of the world, to Da Vinci’s studio and Heaven, would be stunning to see depicted in film.

Many thanks to Wendy Waters, the author of Catch The Moon, Mary who sent me a copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Georgette Heyer is a comfort read for me, so I turned to Bath Tangle after becoming a little tired out from everyday life. As always with Georgette Heyer this is a fabulously amusing story with a happy ending and by the end, I felt that all was right with the world again.

After the death of her father, Lady Serena Carlow’s fortune was tied up in the hands of her former fiance, Lord Rotherham who had also been given authority by her father’s will to decide if Serena could marry or not. If she married without Lord Rotherham’s approval, she would lose her fortune.

Along with being rich Serena was beautiful (goes without saying), quick-tempered (goes without saying – look at that beautiful red-haired woman on the novel’s cover) and a fabulous horsewoman (goes without saying). She was also fearless, which was useful during her frequent arguments with Lord Rotherham, whose ferocious face and blunt manners were enough to make all of the other characters in the story, including Serena’s widowed stepmother, Fanny, shake in their boots.

Fanny was also beautiful (in a much less showy way than Serena), kind to the point of being soft-hearted and generous. Fanny was also several years younger than 25-year old Serena, as the late Earl had married Fanny in a last-ditch attempt to have a son who would inherit the family estates. After the Earl’s death Serena and Fanny retired to the Dower House to see out their mourning period, but as Serena couldn’t stand to watch the new Earl make changes to her former home (and worse, not take Serena’s advice) the pair upped stumps and moved to Bath.

Bath is exactly where I’d go if I was in England and on the lookout for a rich and handsome fellow, especially if I wanted one who wore a ruffled shirt, cut-away coat and a tall hat, and sure enough, not long after they’d arrived in town Serena ran into her old flame, Major Kirkby. In the meantime, other characters were also getting romantically involved, although as the title of the story suggests, with the wrong person.

While I enjoyed Bath Tangle it isn’t one of my favourite Georgette Heyer romances, mostly because I got sick of Serena and Rotherham’s constant bickering, arguing and on occasion, Serena’s attempts to inflict physical violence on her former fiance. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why people would rather be miserable with someone rather than being perfectly happy with someone else.

As always though with Georgette Heyer’s works, the story was clever and the writing and language were a joy to read.

The Golden Maze: A biography of Prague by Australian author Richard Fidler* was probably the most unexpectedly enjoyable non-fiction book I’ve ever read.

The book is a biography of the city of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and is told as if the reader is having a conversation with Fidler. He has a lovely chatty style of writing, one where the reader learns all sorts of things they didn’t know they were interested in and best of all, doesn’t have to try very hard to keep up or pretend that they already know things that they didn’t.

There was far too much history for me to sum up since the city’s story began around 500 BCE so instead I’ll share a few stories that particularly piqued my interest.

The folk tale about the Astronomical Clock that was built for the Town Hall during the fifteenth century is an absolute ripper. The clock itself is stunningly beautiful, with statues and a moving display. It tells the local time, Old Czech time, Babylonian time, and it shows the path of the sun and the moon with a calendar on a second, lower dial. The folk tale has it that the town’s councillors were so happy with the clock that they held a banquet at the Town Hall for the clock-maker, Master Hanus, who became very drunk. The mayor gave Master Hanus a bed for the night in the clock tower but while he was sleeping the town’s executioner blinded the clock-maker with a red-hot poker. The executioner later begged Master Hanus’ forgiveness while explaining his actions by saying that the people of Prague could not risk him making a better clock elsewhere.

King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol was a real person. Vaclav the Good (Wenceslas 1) was the Duke of Bohemia during the tenth century and a Christian who was murdered by his brother. The brother acted on behalf of their mother, who was a pagan.

Religion was a major theme throughout the city’s history, beginning with Paganism, then the Holy Roman Empire became important throughout the Habsburg Dynasty, Reformation and re-Reformations with many people dying for their beliefs. Jan Hus, a church reformer, was burned at the stake. During World War Two Jewish people were either annihilated or expelled from the city.

All of the stories about the people of Prague were interesting, regardless of whether they were Kings and Queens, politicians, writers, musicians and artists, scientists or everyday people. I loved the stories of bravery and subversive behaviour by people fighting for their country’s independence while Communism ruled. Stories of betrayal by informants and people’s sadness and fear were harder to read, although these were also told with compassion.

The author included his own personal history of visiting Prague soon after the Velvet Revolution, then returning thirty years later and visiting the Black Palace, which had been the headquarters of the Nazi SS. During this visit Fidler met and spoke with people who had been the victims of the secret police while communism reigned.

The Golden Maze: A biography of Prague was a fascinating look at an extraordinary city.

*Yes, that Richard Fidler. The one who was in The Doug Anthony All Stars and who presents Conversations with Richard Fidler on ABC’s Radio National.

Be careful what you wish for. When I spun up Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham in the Classics Club most recent spin, I immediately wished that I’d spun a longer book, as I was expecting to have more time than usual to read over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Not so, as my free time vanished in other directions and to make it worse, I seriously underestimated the length and depth of this fabulous book.

Be careful what you wish for is also a warning that the main character of this novel would have done well to heed.

The story began when Philip Carey was nine years old and newly orphaned. He went to live with his aunt and uncle, who meant well but were unable to provide Philip with the unconditional love and emotional support that he needed, and he was a particularly needy child. Philip wasn’t good socially and was always being offended when none was intended, partly as a result of having been born with a club foot. His school years were particularly difficult.

Philip was good at school, especially when he made an effort with his studies but against the wishes of his aunt, uncle and his teachers insisted on leaving school and moving to Germany for the life experience instead of trying for a scholarship to Oxford. On returning to London Philip started an apprenticeship to become a chartered accountant, despite being temperamentally unsuited to the work and the constrained lifestyle. A year in, he chucked in his apprenticeship to become an artist in Paris. That didn’t last either, as Philip realised that his art would never be any better than mediocre and so he returned to London, this time to become a doctor.

Philip’s lack of commitment to a career, along with his obsession with a nasty young woman caused him misery, both emotionally and financially. Before and after meeting Mildred Philip had heedlessly broken the hearts of several women who cared for him along the way, only to fall in love with a woman who did not even like him, and who Philip himself recognised was physically unattractive, not even close to being his intellectual equal, and who had a horrible nature to boot.

Philip’s thoughts and emotions were always known to the reader and through sharing his joys and sorrows, I came to care for him enormously and wanted the best for him, but he was his own worst enemy and could be counted on time and time again to make the worst possible choices for his own happiness and success.

I loved Maugham’s simple and clear story-telling style and am very keen to read more of his work.

Of Human Bondage was book forty-five of my Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics before my challenge end date of August 26, 2023.

Abomination by Ashley Goldberg is set in my Melbourne. The characters drink at pubs I’ve been to, walk the streets I’ve walked and their stories are taking place in Melbourne, Australia right now, same as mine are.

In 1999 Ezra and Yonatan were best friends at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school when allegations of sexual abuse to children by a teacher split the school community in two. Both sides of the community were outraged, but only one side wanted the perpetrator to be charged and punished according to Australian laws. The other side of the community wanted to keep the matter ‘in-house’ and deal with the issue internally, according their own religious laws.

Ezra’s father, who described their family as ‘twice-a-year Jews,’ immediately pulled his son out of school and took the family on an extended caravan holiday up the east coast of Australia, and on their return, enrolled Ezra into a state school, while Yonatan’s family supported those who helped the teacher to flee Australia for Israel. Ezra and Yonatan tried to continue their friendship, however Yonatan’s parents preferred him not to see Ezra and eventually they lost contact with each other.

Twenty years later, activists were still working to have the teacher extradited to Australia and sent invites to a rally to Ezra and Yonatan through social media, where they met at Parliament House in Melbourne, at the top of Spring Street.

By this time, Ezra and Yonatan’s characters had been formed and their lives were vastly different to each other’s. Ezra now identified as an atheist and worked for the government. He lived with his girlfriend who was not Jewish, and, much to his shame and self-loathing, continued to pursue other women for sex.

Yonatan had continued to live within the rules of the Orthodox Jewish community and was now a respected Rabbi and teacher at the school he and Ezra had attended. Yonatan’s marriage had been arranged, and after seven years of marriage his wife was pregnant.

By attending the rally, however, Yonatan had stepped outside of his community’s rules. He then took a further risk by inviting Ezra and his girlfriend to dinner for Shabbat, reminding his disapproving wife that one of their commandments was to try to return black sheep to their religious fold. The dinner went surprisingly well, until Ezra’s girlfriend let slip that the two men had reconnected at the rally, instead of at Glick’s Bakery as Yonatan had told his wife.

Although the characters in this story live within a community in Melbourne that I don’t know much about, I have enjoyed a pastry from Glick’s Bakery in Balaclava. The bakery is known for bagels and challah bread, although I didn’t realise the religious significance of the bread until I did some research while reading this novel.

But, back the the story. After Yonatan was caught in a lie to his wife, his position in the community fell until the way he was treated became untenable to him.

Abomination was a fascinating look at a religious world I don’t know much about, although I could see similarities to other religions, including hypocrisy relating to what was expected of the people in the community and what was actually happening. Another similarity related to my own religious upbring, what I was taught was supposedly ‘right’ and all other religious teachings ‘wrong,’ or at the very least, ‘misguided’.

There was a lot going on in this story and I’m not sure that all of the plot lines needed to be included. Yonatan’s story was particularly compelling and could have been the focus, although his and Ezra’s story provided a strong contrast to each other.

I also felt that the details of Ezra’s affairs and the pornographic ads that popped up on Yonatan’s computer screen were described too explicitly. These could have been conveyed with less detail and for me, the crudity of the accounts jarred with the rest of the story.

The book could also have done with a glossary of Hebrew words. By the end of the first page of the second chapter I had already looked up the meaning of words and expressions such as Chumash (the Torah in book-form), Modeh Ani (a prayer said by one of the characters on waking) and tzitzit (knotted fringes or tassles which are worn as a reminder to bring God’s love into action by practising other mitzvot {rules or commandments}). The flow of the story was constantly being interrupted by my need to learn what these words or phrases meant before I could move on in the story.

Despite these minor criticisms, I found Abomination to be a fascinating read. The characters were generally kind and thoughtful, their stories were believable and it goes without saying that I loved the contemporary Melbourne setting.

My purchase of Abomination begins my New Year’s resolution for 2023 to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of this year (January).

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