I bought this book way back in 2016 and it has been languishing in my digital pile – I feel slightly ill when I think about that digital pile.
Here’s the blurb …
Black Rock White City is a novel about the damages of war, the limits of choice, and the hope of love.
During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children.
Intensely human, yet majestic in its moral vision, Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humour
I am not sure why this one languished so long I think I thought it was going to be political. It is about the immigrant experience in Australia – no one can say your name, no one is particularly interested in your past, your qualifications aren’t recognized, etc.
I thought this was beautifully written. It has two points of view – Jovan and Suzana. Jovan works in a hospital as a cleaner (his hospital has a series of malicious graffiti/damage) and seems content with his new (simpler) Australian life. Suzana (also a cleaner but domestically) is angrier. She is writing a novel and is fascinated by the English language (why does knife and knickers have a k, but not nine?)
The story unfolds gently as we follow their ordinary days – more graffiti, an affair, friends, an escape to an hotel. It’s about starting in a new place after terrible things have happened – finding peace and possibly happiness.
I got this from the library and probably too soon after Normal People– they are very similar.
Here’s the blurb …
WINNER OF THE SUNDAY TIMES / PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR SHORTLISTED FOR THE KERRY GROUP IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2018 SHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2018 SHORTLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2018 A SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER AND TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR
Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex menage-a-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.
Look at all of those prizes and short lists.
This is beautifully written and contains an exploration of class in Dublin society. I don’t want to be disparaging, but I also found it to be a lot of twenty-something angst. I suspect I feel this way because I read this and Normal People within a few months of each other.
I saw this in Dymocks and bought it based on the title (the cover is good too).
Here is the blurb …
From the author of How Paris Became Paris, a sweeping history of high finance, the origins of high fashion, and a pair of star-crossed lovers in 18th-century France.
Paris, 1719. The stock market is surging and the world’s first millionaires are buying everything in sight. Against this backdrop, two families, the Magoulets and the Chevrots, rose to prominence only to plummet in the first stock market crash. One family built its name on the burgeoning financial industry, the other as master embroiderers for Queen Marie-Therese and her husband, King Louis XIV. Both patriarchs were ruthless money-mongers, determined to strike it rich by arranging marriages for their children.
But in a Shakespearean twist, two of their children fell in love. To remain together, Louise Magoulet and Louis Chevrot fought their fathers’ rage and abuse. A real-life heroine, Louise took on Magoulet, Chevrot, the police, an army regiment, and the French Indies Company to stay with the man she loved.
Following these families from 1600 until the Revolution of 1789, Joan DeJean recreates the larger-than-life personalities of Versailles, where displaying wealth was a power game; the sordid cells of the Bastille; the Louisiana territory, where Frenchwomen were forcibly sent to marry colonists; and the legendary “Wall Street of Paris,” Rue Quincampoix, a world of high finance uncannily similar to what we know now. The Queen’s Embroiderer is both a star-crossed love story in the most beautiful city in the world and a cautionary tale of greed and the dangerous dream of windfall profits. And every bit of it is true
I thought it would be about embroidery and embroiderers (probably should have read the blurb). I expected sumptuous materials and social detail about the lives of embroiderers. I did not get what I expected – it is about the machinations of the Chevrot and Magoulet families. Having said that, I wasn’t disappointed. It is an incredibly fascinating story with an enormous amount of information life in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was easy to read and by that I mean despite the obvious historical research there is no jargon and it has a nice narrative flow.
I am reading this one because I am going to see Esi Edugyan at the Writers Festival.
Here’s the blurb …
ESCAPE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING…
A stunning new novel of slavery and freedom by the author of the Man Booker and Orange Prize shortlisted Half Blood Blues
When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.
Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.
From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again
I knew nothing about this novel I just downloaded the kindle version – I didn’t even read the blurb. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have read it as I don’t like slavery novels (I find them too brutal), but that would have been a mistake as this is a well-written coming of age/tale of adventure. Don’t mistake me their is brutality and violence but it is more than that. The ‘world creation’ is fabulous – Barbados, the arctic regions of Canada, Newfoundland, England and Morocco.
Wash starts of a young slave – with no control of anything and ends his own man in charge of his destiny. On the way there is action and adventure (almost swashbuckling adventure) and an eccentric cast of characters.
This was recommended by a few people (even Barack Obama had it on his list).
Here’s the blurb …
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.
I enjoyed it. I found the premise interesting – how does a relationship survive that degree of separation (not to mention anger, shame and despair)? This novel felt quite foreign to me and I realise that is because I haven’t read any other black american stories – something I definitely need to rectify.
I thought the characters were beautifully portrayed (I didn’t like Roy, but that’s a sign of good writing). This novel shows a section of american life, which then highlights the endemic racism in society.
This was a last minute decision made by my book club and, at first, it was impossible to find – in the end I bought it as a Kindle. Impossible to find because it was sold out everywhere. I am always a bit nervous about very popular books (and I have to say the title and the cover art weren’t helping)
Here’s the blurb …
A novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane’s violent working class suburban fringe – from one of Australia’s most exciting new writers.
Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.
But if Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.
A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year.
I love it – found it compelling. The writing is beautiful and the characters are fabulous and sympathetically (and generously) written. I also enjoyed all of the Australian cultural references (sometimes it’s nice to read something that feels familiar).
Trent Dalton is coming to the Perth Writers Festival and I am looking forward to his session (just how much is autobiographical, did the red telephone ring?)
Below is an article about the writing of Boy Swallows Universe.
I hadn’t heard of this novel until Mercedes mentioned it on Mercy’s Musings.
Here’s the blurb …
Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.
Sally Rooney’s second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it’s also a novel about love. It’s about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It’s wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. It will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.
I enjoyed this – the writing is beautiful, but the stand outs for me were the characters and character development. Marianne and Connell are our narrators – chapter about. It’s about relationships, coming of age, finding or making your way in the wider world. Marianne and Connell are bright and articulate with thoughts about themselves, the world and relationships.
This has been in my pile for quite sometime and I am not even sure why. I enjoyed Miss Buncle’s Book– too many good things to read.
Here is the blurb …
In this charming follow-up to Miss Buncle’s Book, readers will follow Barbara Buncle’s journey into married life in a new town filled with fascinating neighbors…who may become the subjects of Barbara’s next novel! Miss Buncle may have settled down, but she’s already discovered that married life has done nothing to prevent her from getting into humorous mix-ups and hilarious hijinx. Readers will continue to fall in love with Barbara as she hilariously navigates an exciting new beginning
When I read a book from this era I always think I should read more. This is a witty, gentle, clever story that still highlights the follies, foibles and selfishness of human nature.
Here is the Persephone page – I read the Persephone edition, but loved the image above so much I had to use that one instead of the (beautiful) Persephone grey cover.
I read The Dry and enjoyed it. Not enough to read her second novel and when this was suggested by my book club I wasn’t very keen. However, it was recommended by so many people I thought I should give it a go.
Here’s the blurb…
Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper
They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…
Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature
I really enjoyed it – much more than her first novel. The sense of place was brilliant and the relationships were particularly well done. It was compelling – I couldn’t stop reading “just one more chapter”. And I didn’t pick the murderer!
Once again I think this would be a fabulous movie.