Monthly Archives: April 2010

Good to a Fault – Marina Endicott

I read about this novel on Cornflower Books – I can’t find the reference now it might even be in a comment somewhere – anyway I thought if I see it around I’ll grab a copy and then, on the very day, I find it in a second hand book store. I had no idea what to expect, but I loved it. It contains a wealth of domestic detail about raising three children and just how hard (and messy) that can be.

This is the description from Allen &  Unwin

In a novel reminiscent of the work of Penelope Lively, Anne Tyler, and Alice Munro, acclaimed author Marina Endicott gives us one of the most profound and most memorable reads of the year.
Absorbed in her own failings, Clara Purdy crashes her life into a sharp left turn, taking the young family in the other car along with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara – against all habit and comfort – moves the three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house.
We know what is good, but we don’t do it. In Good to a Fault, Clara decides to give it a try, and then has to cope with the consequences: exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love. But she must question her own motives. Is she acting out of true goodness, or out of guilt? Most shamefully, has she taken over simply because she wants the baby for her own?
What do we owe in this life, and what do we deserve? This compassionate, funny, and fiercely intelligent novel looks at life and death through grocery-store reading glasses: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance on the precipice.

The writing is magnificent. Marina Endicott using free indirect style to great effect – we move in and out of the heads of most of the characters and therefore understand and sympathise with their lives.

Do we do our good deeds expecting gratitude or recognition? I think we probably do and I felt for Clara when things didn’t turn out quite how she expected.

I think this is domestic fiction at it’s best – it forces us to think about own motivations and assumptions.

Here are some other reviews …

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Filed under Recommended, Serious

The Legacy – Kristen Tranter

I read a review of this novel in The Australian and simply had to have it. Here is the description from Harper Collins …

What has happened to Ingrid?

Beautiful Ingrid inherits a fortune and leaves Australia, and her friends, and Ralph who loves her, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world. There she becomes the stepmother to Gil?s teenage artist daughter Fleur, a former child prodigy, and studies ancient curse scrolls at Columbia University.

But at 9am on September 11, 2001, she has an appointment downtown. And is never seen again.

Or is she?

Searching for clues about Ingrid?s life a year later, her friend Julia uncovers only further layers of mystery and deception.

Both an unputdownable mystery and a compelling meditation on the nature of art, truth, friendship and love, THE LEGACY announces the arrival of a major new talent.

This novel is a modern re-telling of James’s The Portrait of a Lady plus a bit of an extension. It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Portrait of a Lady but I remember after a couple of false starts that I loved it. This novel is in three parts and the first part closely resembles James’s novel (although obviously with a modern setting), part two and part three move into new territory. I really enjoyed reading this novel – I didn’t want it to end. The things that have really stuck in my mind was first how well she described an Australian university experience (it reminded me of my time at Uni), secondly the effect of the collapse of the World Trade Center on New Yorkers and thirdly the sense of place Ms Tranter created. The writing is spectacular (and unobtrusive). I didn’t once think it needed more editing (very unusual) and the characters are fabulous, completely believable. Here’s a reading guide, and a review and another review.


Filed under Recommended, Serious