Tag Archives: Australian author

The Women in Black by Madeleine St John

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I would have passed over The Women in Black by Australian author Madeleine St John had not Orange Pekoe Reviews called this book “a perfect novel” in her recent review.

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Who would have thought that hiding behind this cover is a novel by a nearly forgotten author which deserves to be shelved with the very best of Australian literature? Not me.

The Women in Black is set in Sydney in the 1950s and tells the stories of four women who work together at Goode’s, Sydney’s most prestigious department store. Goode’s is fictional, and is most likely based on David Jones, which would have been the place to shop in Sydney during this time if you were a woman with discretionary money to spend. The women working in DJ’s also wear black and are frighteningly elegant.

Patty has been married for Frank for over ten years without any sign of a baby coming along to put an end to her employment with Goode’s, but a black lace nightie may change that. Her husband Frank is described as “a bastard of the standard-issue variety, neither cruel not violent, merely insensitive and inarticulate.” Sounds to me like the definition of most Australian man from any era. Personally, I quite like them.

Fay has been swept off her feet by unsuitable men too many times to count. She “never seemed to meet the sort of man she dreamed of: someone who would respect her as well as desiring her; someone who would love her and wish to marry her.” An invitation to a New Year’s Eve party from a workmate opens Faye’s eyes to possibilities other than the usual men she meets.

Young Lisa is on the cusp of becoming a woman, and dreams of becoming a poet, while Magda, who runs the ‘Model Gowns’ section in Goode’s is an elegant ‘New Australian’. Together, the four women work in the Ladies Frocks Department, providing the women of Sydney with beautiful dresses during the lead up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The story is told by an all-seeing narrator who tells the story as it unfolds, and who is not above giving the reader a wink from time to time.

The story is deceptively simple, touching and funny. The characters’ voices are as Australian as all get-out, and the phrases used are things which adults used to say when I was a child. Australia’s population has changed so much that these voices have mostly been lost and reading The Women in Black made me nostalgic to hear them again.

I loved this book so much that I went to my favourite bookshop, Hill of Content in Melbourne, and bought my own copy. I would love to find Madeleine St John’s other books too but was told they are now out of print, so I will be scrounging around second-hand bookshops and op-shops until I can get my hands on them. Australian director Bruce Beresford optioned this book to make into a movie and I wish he would hurry up and make the movie.

 

 

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The Dry by Jane Harper

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The Dry by Australian author Jane Harper came to my attention via a review by Fiction Fan, who often bears the responsibility for adding to my list of ‘want to reads,’ but over the past months I’ve seen this book everywhere; people are reading it on the train, there are displays in bookshops and interviews with the author in the newspapers. Most excitingly, when I picked up the Dymocks Top 101 booklist for 2017, I spotted the title at #17.

https://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/the-dry-aaron-falk-1-by-jane-harper/

The Dry is set in Kiewarra, a fictional Victorian farming community. My guess is that Kiewarra is based on a Mallee district, maybe Kerang, or Ouyen, where the bakery is famous for their Vanilla Slice. Families up that way have owned their land for generations and they do it tough during droughts. In this story, the whole community is struggling financially and emotionally because of drought.

The Dry starts with the tragic death of three people in a family. On the surface, it appears that Luke Hadler shot his wife and primary school aged son before shooting himself because he couldn’t cope with the prospect of losing of the family farm. Luke’s baby daughter was spared and later found in the house, howling her little head off.

Aaron Falk was Luke’s friend when they were growing up and he returns to Kiewarra from Melbourne for the funeral. Falk is now an investigator with the Australian Federal Police, but as a teenager, he and his father were forced to leave town after the death of a girl whom he and Luke had been friends with.

When Falk is asked by Luke’s parents to investigate the murder-suicide he agrees reluctantly. Most of the people of Kiewarra remember him and the circumstances of him leaving town, and he is harassed and threatened by many of the townspeople, including the girl’s father and cousin.

Despite the harassment, Falk sticks around and teams up with the local copper, Sergeant Raco, who has also been poking about on the Hadler farm. Raco is a good bloke, happily married with a baby on the way and he is smart enough to have noticed irregularities in the case. Raco is also an outsider in Kiewarra but he knows enough about the dynamics of small towns to make the locals toe the line.

As Falk and Raco investigate the deaths, further mysteries arise about the death of the girl all of those years ago, particularly about Luke’s possible involvement.

The language in this book is spot-on, although Australians swear a lot more than this book would suggest. The evocative details which gave the story an Australian feel were also beautifully done, although I could have done without the image of the huntsman crawling around Falk’s hotel room; as an arachnophobe, I would have killed the spider with my shoe on its first appearance.

The country-town atmosphere also felt rang true. Everyone in Kiewarra knew most of their neighbours’ business and were quick to judge each other. They ignored issues which should have been addressed when they were afraid of their own livelihoods being harmed, but they also rallied around each other in ways which doesn’t happen in the city, where a person or family can be as anonymous as they want to be.

I have to admit that I had a feeling about how this story would end and was very excited when I was proved right. This did not spoil my enjoyment of the story in any way and I strongly recommend The Dry to others.

Force of Nature is the next book by this author featuring Aaron Falk and I cannot wait to read it.

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The Port Fairy Murders by Robert Gott

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The Port Fairy Murders by Australian author Robert Gott is a sequel to The Holiday Murders. The Port Fairy Murders continues the story of Detective Joe Sable, Constable Helen Lord and Inspector Titus Lambert, all members of the newly-formed Victorian Homicide Department in Melbourne in 1943.

In The Port Fairy Murders, the characters have to deal with the fall-out after they infiltrated Australia First, a particularly nasty political party in the previous book. I’m happy to report that Australia First are fictional, although no doubt there were real groups at the time who were genuinely horrible.

Joe was hurt quite badly physically and emotionally, as was Titus’ brother in law Tom, as they worked to stop a deranged madman and his crazy followers in The Holiday Murders. Several weeks later Joe returned to work, (clearly there was no counselling or time off work for traumatised police officers in 1943). Soon after, Joe’s apartment block was burned down by George Starling, an aggrieved member of Australia First. One of Joe’s neighbour’s died in the fire.

Of particular interest to me was the location of Starling’s family farm at Mepunga, half way between Warrnambool and Peterborough on the Great Ocean Road, which is very near to where I grew up. Starling is such a horrible character that I have mixed feelings about the use of this location as I didn’t like him coming from my part of the world, (NIMBY), but I also loved reading about places so familiar to me.

The photo below is of Murnane’s Bay, where The Port Fairy Murders tells us that Starling often went to as a child to escape his abusive father.

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I can’t imagine anyone being lucky enough to come from this part of the world to be a bad person, my imagination just won’t stretch that far. Robert Gott, however, managed just fine.

After the fire, Joe was billeted to stay with Helen, her mother and her Uncle Peter. Joe quickly connected with Peter and has some interesting conversations with him about art after noticing that Peter has had a portrait of himself painted in the style of John Singer Sargent’s famous portrait of Dr Pozzi in his bathrobe.

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Meanwhile, Starling is staying at The Windsor Hotel in Melbourne after a visit to his father’s farm. Starling was delighted to learn his father recently died, and visited the farm to steal cash and burn down the house. He also viciously attacked a number of animals on the farm so that the police would realise the fire had been set on purpose. (NIMBY, NIMBY!) Back in Melbourne, Starling killed a few gay men while waiting for an opportunity to kill Joe.

Meanwhile, Joe and Helen were sent to Port Fairy to investigate a double murder, completely unrelated to Starling and Australia First. The author set the scene in Port Fairy well, particularly when it came to the divide between the religions. All of the family stories I grew up hearing had religion in there somewhere, with one mob going to a particular church, school, dances and shops, while the other mob went to their own church, school, dances and shops, saying hello politely on the street but never going to each other’s homes. Heaven forbid anyone married out of their religion. St John’s and St Patrick’s churches in Port Fairy are pictured below…

I also enjoyed the references to other locations around Port Fairy which I know quite well, including Gipps Street, East’s Beach, Pea Soup and of course the pubs; the Caledonian (otherwise known as The Stump) and the Star of the West.

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As it turns out, Robert Gott was able to imagine horrible people in Port Fairy too. He does not shy away from describing grisly, violent behaviour, and thoroughly explores all types of nastiness.

The town of Warrnambool gets plenty of mentions too, with a very ordinary meal being had at the Warrnambool Hotel. I can confirm that the food served there is actually very good.

The Port Fairy Murders left the door open for another book in the series as there is plenty of unfinished business. Helen and her mother have secrets from each other, and Joe and Helen have chemistry. George Starling is still on the loose which means that all of these characters, plus Titus and his wife Maude, who I have become quite fond of, are still in danger…

 

 

 

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Merciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas

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Merciless Gods is a collection of short stories by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas, who is best known for writing The Slap. I read and enjoyed both The Slap and Barracuda, which although occasionally brutal, are well written contemporary stories which are set in my home town of Melbourne.

I finished reading Merciless Gods some time ago, and have been dithering about whether to post a review or not. The writing in Merciless Gods is up to the author’s usual high standards, but this book did not leave me feeling good about myself. I felt squeamish and anxious reading most of these stories, many of which depict physically and emotionally violent exchanges between characters, as well as graphic (and again, sometimes violent) sex between gay men. The characters in this collection are absolutely brutal to each other.

The first story in the collection is the title story and tells of a group of friends telling each other true stories. One of the characters tells a story of revenge which left me and the other characters feeling emotionally shattered. Merciless Gods is an amazing story, but had I realised each story in the collection was more confronting than the last, I probably would have stopped reading after the second story.

Reading so many stories about unhappy, sometimes unpleasant people behaving viciously towards each other flattened me. I wish this author would show people at their best more often, rather than always at their worst.

I’ll continue reading books by Christos Tsiolkas for the quality of the writing and for my enjoyment of the familiar locations and times, but this confronting collection of stories is not for everyone. I’m prudish at the best of times and if you are too, then give this collection a miss.

 

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Of a Boy by Sonia Hartnett

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Of a Boy (published as What the Birds See outside of Australia) is one of prolific Australian author Sonya Hartnett’s earlier stories. Sonya Hartnett is best known for her books for young adults, although she also writes for children and adults. I’m a latecomer to her work having only read Golden Boys previously, but am a fan and intend to make my way through her work.

Of a Boy brought back every terrible memory from childhood, from being unhappy because of bullying, worrying about not fitting in, to thinking I was unloved and feeling frightened of being abandoned.

Sonya Hartnett’s writing is clear and simple and very, very good. Of a Boy won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the Age Book of the Year in 2003.

The story is set in an Australian suburb in the 1970’s, where three small children set off to their local milkbar to buy ice-creams one day and were never seen again. The children’s disappearance shocked and frightened their community, including a nine-year old boy, Adrian, who was dumped on his grandmother after his mother was deemed unfit to look after him. Adrian is the loneliest, saddest little boy around. He is in trouble all the time with his grandmother, who seems to be unable to show Adrian that she loves him. My heart went out to this poor little character.

In Adrian’s grandmother’s defense, she was grieving her husband when Adrian came to live with her. She was also looking forward to a retirement free of obligations, after looking after her sick husband for many years, so resented Adrian for tying her down again even though she knew he is not to blame for their family’s circumstances.

Adrian suffers horribly at school. He lacks confidence and struggles to find friends. Children in this story are just as cruel as children are in real life, and being different to the other children is a licence to be picked on.

Eventually Adrian makes friends with the girl who lives across the road. She has her own cross to bear in the form of a mother who is dying. The story ends with Adrian and Nicole searching for the three missing children, when things comes to a shocking and tragic end. I had to read the last pages twice, because on my first read I couldn’t take in what happened to Adrian at the conclusion of the story.

In Of a Boy Sonya Hartnett tells exactly how it is to be a lonely, frightened and sad child. This story may not be for everyone, but it is exceptionally well told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life in Seven Mistakes by Susan Johnson

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I’m going out of my way at the moment to read more novels by Australia authors, so picked up Life in Seven Mistakes by Susan Johnson. Ordinarily I would have avoided a book with a black cover and a pink rose petal as the combination screams romance, potentially with lurid details that would make me cringe with embarrassment, but happily for me I could not have been more wrong about Life in Seven Mistakes, as there were no icky sex scenes at all.

Life in Seven Mistakes tells the story of the Barton family, who are more dysfunctional than most families.

Patriach Bob Barton is retired and lives with his wife Nance in a penthouse at Surfer’s Paradise, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. For all of you non-Australian readers, the Gold Coast is where Australians go to party, our version of Las Vegas or Ibiza. Loads of cash and flash, not much substance, but the beach certainly photographs well.

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Anyhoo, (I’m getting my Aussie on here) Bob is a self-made man. He started out as a labourer on the Snowy scheme, which was the biggest engineering works ever done in Australia. He quickly worked his way up in the world to run a global company, and earned massive amounts of money. Bob fell in love with Nance at first sight back in the day, and she with him. An awestruck Bob described Nance to a mate as being more beautiful than Ava Gardner, since Ava’s “face is sort of cruel.” *

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Together, Bob and Nance had three children, Elizabeth, Robbo and Nicky, who are all in their forties when they join their parents a few days before Christmas at the Gold Coast, along with an assortment of husbands, wives and children. Everyone except Nicky, that is, because he is in jail.

In the present story, Bob is aggro to the point of being unreasonable, blustering and swearing constantly. It is clear from the beginning of the story that he calls the shots and pays the bills in the Barton family. Nance is a bit of a dragon too, who backs Bob right or wrong.

The current story is told from Elizabeth’s point of view. She is nearly 50, up to her third husband, and has three children with different fathers. She is an artist who is not successful enough to pay her own bills, and behaves like a petulant teenager in her parent’s company. Elizabeth has spent most of her adult life avoiding spending time with her parents.

Robbo is very like his father, successful and blustery, but unlike Bob, Robbo married a woman who wears the pants in their relationship. One of Robbo’s children has an eating disorder.

Nicky’s escape came from drugs, and eventually from being sent to prison, where he found God. I’m fairly sure that when he gets out he will discover drugs again.

Things came to a head in the story on Christmas Eve when Bob’s health suddenly deteriorated. I think underneath it all the Barton family actually loved each other, but it was hard to tell from their behaviour.

Reading about the Barton family made me feel uncomfortable. The story is quite well written and the location and time is familiar and true to life, but I can’t imagine living in such an unhappy family and as a result struggled to empathise with the characters. The book’s title comes from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, from the part that says a man has ‘seven ages,’ from being a baby through to old age. I think the title must have referred to Bob particularly, although all of the characters were struggling emotionally

I’m not sure where it all went wrong for Bob and Nance. They certainly loved and understood each other and in the beginning their little family seemed perfect. By the time their children were teenagers though, Bob and Nance’s parenting mistakes were clear. They interfered in their children’s lives, didn’t allow them to express their own opinions, and constantly put them down when they expressed a view different to their own. Unfortunately for the happiness of the family, this behaviour was continuing in the present day part of the story, as their almost middle-aged children were still attempting to rebel against Bob and Nance’s rules. By the end of the story Elizabeth recognised that even though she doesn’t want to, she needed to start showing her parents that she loves them.

Susan Johnson has written quite a few novels, including one based on the life of Australian writer Charmian Clift. I will look out for this, although if it is true to Charmian Clift’s life, it won’t have a happy ending either.

*This was the only photo I could find where Ava Gardner’s facial expression looked “sort of cruel.” She just looked beautiful in every other photo…

 

 

 

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The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott

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The Holiday Murders by Australian author Robert Gott is set in Melbourne near the end of World War 2. I chose to read this book as the author has written another book called The Port Fairy Murders, and because I occasionally holiday in the actual Port Fairy, I’m keen to read this book. However, the two books appear to be a part of a series, and The Holiday Murders is first.

The Holiday Murders begins on Christmas Eve in 1943, with a phone call to Inspector Titus Lambert informing him of the vicious murders of a Melbourne father and son. The family are rich and influential, and the murders have been performed with a nod to unusual aspects of the victim’s personalities. A daughter of the family who is an up and coming radio star has been spared, and she goes into hiding.

Inspector Lambert calls in Detective Joe Sable and Constable Helen Lord to assist him in the investigation, which quickly ramps up to involve Military Intelligence, who work out of Victoria Barracks. Military Intelligence suspect that the murderer is linked with a political party which draws on National Socialism for inspiration. The party is alternatively named Australia First, Australian Patriots and Our Nation, which made me snort. I expect supporters of Australia’s current One Nation party dislike the similarity of the names ‘Our Nation’ and ‘One Nation’, which the author must have chosen on purpose. Since One Nation also stirs up trouble and hatred though, the similarity is apt. (Don’t get me started on Australian politics though, as I’ll get up on my soapbox and call the supporters of this type of party idiots, and worse).

Oh yes, The Holiday Murders. Where were we? The characters. Joe and Helen both have difficulties in life and in the investigation. Joe is Jewish, at a time when horrible political parties and gullible fools were attempting to emulate the Nazis and Helen is a woman working in a male field, which can be difficult enough now. Seventy years ago it must almost have been impossible for a woman to be a police officer.

I enjoyed travelling around Melbourne in this story, particularly the references to Victoria Barracks, the Manchester Unity Building and the Windsor Hotel, all of which I am familiar with. (High tea at The Windsor is a Melbourne institution, by the way). During the 1940’s, the Windsor Hotel was the place for the wealthy to stay in Melbourne. The Manchester Unity Building was only ten years old and was at the heart of Melbourne’s business and shopping district, and during World War 2. Victoria Barracks housed the Australian War Cabinet. I think the author chose these iconic buildings very well.

The reader knows from the beginning who carried out the murders, but we don’t know the whole story, (we know ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’, but are missing ‘why’, the most interesting component). We are on the side of the police as they try to find out who the murderers are and what their motives are. I was starting to get a bit worried by the end of the book, as there weren’t many pages left and there was a lot of loose ends to be tied up, but it all came together quickly, with a motive that I didn’t see coming. Things don’t end happily for all of the characters either. The story was a lot darker than I had initially expected, too.

I didn’t enjoy the psychopathic angle of the story, because I’m bit squeamish about gory details. This may not bother other readers though. I didn’t enjoy was the constant sexual references from some very twisted characters either, because I’m a bit prudish, but eventually I got bored with these weirdos and their fetishes, and eventually started thinking, ‘not again’ when they became repetitive.

However, I did enjoy the writing, the familiarity of the Melbourne locations, the goodness of some of the characters, and most of all, that the story made sense. All in all, I’m looking forward to reading The Port Fairy Murders next.

 

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The December Boys by Michael Noonan

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The December Boys by New Zealand author Michael Noonan was made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame.

The story is narrated by a boy called Choker, who along with his mates Maps, Spark, Fido and Misty, are collectively known as ‘the December boys’ because they were all left at an outback Catholic Orphanage during the same December as babies.

The story is set in the 1930s, in the aftermath of the Depression. Choker and his mates have been shouted a summer at the beach by a wealthy benefactor of the orphanage. On holidays at Captain’s Folly, an isolated beach settlement, they experience freedom in a way they never have before, roaming around and exploring the area, all the while getting to know the people who live permanently in the area.

Most of the people living in shacks, caves or sleeping rough at Captain’s Folly have been there since the Depression, and are mostly hermits and people who are unable to cope in mainstream society, but the boys are most interested in and impressed by a beautiful young woman, Teresa, who cartwheels into their hearts on their first day at the beach. The boys are even more impressed when they meet Teresa’s husband, Fearless Foley, who was once a trick motorbike rider.

When Choker overhears Fearless telling another settlement dweller that he would like to adopt one of the boys, the boy’s emotions run wild. Each boy is desperate to stay with Fearless and Teresa, to the point where they would throw each other under a bus to be the lucky one.

This is a slow story, with a lot of detailed descriptions. The story is sometimes sad, but there is a lot of fun and a strong sense of Australian humour. Australian colloquialisms are frequently used in the character’s conversations, to the point where the language could be a deterrent for non-Australian readers.

The boys’ first look at the Pacific Ocean, or according to another character, the ‘Specific,’ is a gorgeous start to the story. The boys are overwhelmed by the immensity of the ocean, the colour and the movement of the waves. The description of their first experience of entering the water is much the same, joyful and gives you the feeling of being there with them, egging each other on, experiencing the feel of the water, the strength of the waves and the taste of salt.

While I haven’t seen the movie, I believe there are a number of important differences between the book and the film. For example, the book is set during the 1930s but the movie uses the 1960s, the book tells the story of five boys while there are only four in the movie, and there are no girls or love interests for the boys in the book but there are in the movie (*sarcastic eye roll*. I don’t know why every movie needs to have a romance).

I enjoyed The December Boys, but would be hesitant to recommend it to non-Australian readers. I would be interested to learn what other people thought of this book, or the movie if anyone has seen it. Having read a blurb about the movie, I think it is a shame that the story has been altered so much, but perhaps it would be better to think about the book and the movie as two separate stories.

 

 

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Reckoning: a memoir by Magda Szubanski

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Magda Szubanski is one of my favourite Australian comedians. She was ‘Michelle’ in Michelle and Ferret (go on, Google a skit on YouTube, you know you want to), played Pixie Anne Wheatley, Chenille, and Joan Kirner in Fast Forward, which was the most popular comedy television show in Australia in its day. Magda played Mrs Hoggett in Babe, and topped that off as Sharon in Kath & Kim. It turns out she can write, too. I read Reckoning: a memoir from start to finish without stopping.

Reckoning is Magda’s story, interwoven with the story of her family and particularly that of her father, who was an assassin in Poland during World War 2. After the war he went to Scotland, where he met Magda’s mother. They married, had three children, of which Magda was the baby, and moved to Melbourne, Australia during the 1960s.

Magda tells her family’s story with enormous respect, pride and affection. It sounds as if her aptitude for comedy came from her mother, who I would have liked to have read more about, but her father’s story is stronger. She also identifies more with her Polish heritage than her Scottish side, and seems to have craved her father’s approval more than anything else. Happily, it sounds as if Magda had that, and also knew she was loved and respected by her parents too.

The family and personal stories are told very honestly. The family stories from Poland during the war are quite traumatic, and on Magda’s visits to her extended family it is clear that she and her Polish relatives continue to live with sadness and survivor’s guilt from the events of that time. Magda doesn’t hide any of her own difficulties either, such as wondering where she fits into in the world, dropping out of university, her sexuality and most of all, seeking approval from her wonderful but alpha-male type father.

My favourite part of the story was Magda’s entry into comedy. Her realisation that she needed to write her own material if she was going to get airtime was interesting and the never-before heard stories about the shows she worked on were filled with funny stories about people who I have been watching on television for years. I didn’t watch D Generation, but can see I’ll have to rectify that. Since reading the book I’ve watched some old clips of Michelle and Ferret from Fast Forward… which still make me laugh.

Magda is hilarious in Kath & Kim too, where she plays Sharon, Kim’s second-best friend. My only regret from the book is not hearing more about pashing Shane Warne, when he appeared on the show as Sharon’s boyfriend. The pash-rash on those episodes were spectacular.

I think what makes the best performers so successful is that they don’t leave anything on the table, and as a comedian, that is exactly what Magda does. Reckoning is a successful memoir for the same reason because she has let so much of herself be shown while telling her story. I can’t imagine Magda ever being anyone’s second-best friend… she is much more likely to be everyone’s favourite.

 

 

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The Lake House by Kate Morton

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My mother recommended Australian author Kate Morton to me ages ago, and I ignored her recommendation. Mum only ever read beauty books by Sophie Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, biographies about old film stars, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Queen Mother, and Agatha Christie novels. I love Agatha Christie’s stories, but the rest of Mum’s reading matter I can do without. (I’m fairly sure Sophie Loren was blessed with wonderful genes, and no matter how much spaghetti I eat, I am never going to look sultry or glamourous. Sometimes you just have to accept that what works for one of the most beautiful women in the world may not work for you). Anyway, I’m not sure what made Mum start reading novels, but after she read one book by Kate Morton, she promptly went out and bought every other book she had written.

Eventually, under sufferance, I picked up The Lake House by Kate Morton and sat down to read, fully expecting to roll my eyes and sigh like a petulant teenager at my long suffering mother’s choice of novel, before recommending a much better book to Mum. (I know, I know. I deserve a smack).

Half an hour later I was completely absorbed in the story of a family living in a lovely country house in Cornwall during the 1930s, and the mysterious disappearance of their child. There is also a present day story involving a disgraced detective becoming absorbed by the mystery of the now abandoned house and the child’s disappearance and of course, she sets out to solve the mystery. The story moves easily across the timeframes.

The characters in The Lake House are lovely too. They are believable and on the whole, good people. Even when their behaviour is immoral or suspect, the reader still sides with these characters and wants the best for them. And while I liked the characters, particularly Alice Edenvale, I loved the family’s home, Loeanneth. The house is charming, with secret tunnels, beautiful gardens, a swing in a tree, a boathouse, lake and river. What more could anyone want?

My only criticism is that the story’s central mystery, which kept me going for nearly 500 pages, was tied up in the last few pages with a string of coincidences. (I tried to discuss my dissatisfaction regarding the ending with Mum, but she wasn’t having any of it. She said the ending was perfect).

I actually have a great idea for how the story could have ended, but can’t go into details here without spoiling the book for other readers as my idea involves some changes to the earlier part of the story.

I’m planning to read more books by Kate Morton and can happily recommend The Lake House, particularly as a comfort or holiday read. Thanks, Mum.

 

 

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