Friday, July 31, 2009

August's Book Selection

Two very contrasting books this month with plenty to get your teeth into!

When a man slaps someone else’s child at a friend’s barbecue, the small universe in the backyard begins to unravel. Not only are friends and family divided by the event, but it brings to the surface all the murk from below. The Slap is that rare and mesmerising combination of master storytelling and brilliant characterisation.

Spanning three generations, the eight characters we follow though the novel cover a vast range of emotions, opinions and experience, weaving together to create a maze of complex relationships. We see children coming of age, marriages teetering on the brink, and midlife crises erupting against a backdrop of lust, jealousy, deception and inadequacy.

Despite these raw themes, it is an incredibly sensitive read. The Slapcondemns Melbourne’s middle class; its acute mediocrity is vastly outweighed by the depths of its anger and frustrations. Yet Tsiolkas finds empathy for even the most despicable characters and shows us how to understand them, whether we want to or not. The eloquence, pathos and ruthless honesty of this new novel make it an unsettling, but thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding, read.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society must win some type of award for the most unlikely title for a book!

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July's Book Selection

We are getting a wide variety of books to read over the months. This month a 'classic' set in the 1920's and a very popular novel set in Botswana.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby follows Jay Gatsby, a man who orders his life around one desire: to be reunited withDaisyBuchannan, the love he lost
 five years earlier. Gatsby's quest leads him from poverty to wealth, into the arms of his beloved, and eventually to death. Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is a classic piece of American fiction. It is a novel of triumph and tragedy, noted for the remarkable way Fitzgerald captured a cross-section of American society.

This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency received two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by theTimes Literary Supplement.

Happy reading!