A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is.

April 2019

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, March 29, 2019
After several months of reading and writing about somewhat serious and literary novels, I’ve been enjoying some lighter reads this month. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was actually recommended to me by a customer who works for another bookshop! We book people just can’t help sharing when we love a new book or discover a new writer. Daisy Jones and the Six were a band in the 70s—I was thinking Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, as DJ & the Six puts together a bestselling album which sounds a bit like Rumors—a part of the novel which is a fascinating insight into songwriting and recording in itself. The story is told in the form of interviews with the band members, their partners and others as the unknown interviewer attempts to uncover why the band broke up while still at the height of their fame. This is a great evocation of LA in the 70s and the rock music scene, but what makes it such a terrific read is how the reader invests in the characters—Daisy and Billy, the songwriters and lead singers, Camila, Billy’s wife and the other band members ... all of course with different memories of what happened and why. While the book is a lot of fun, it is also very moving in parts and I confess to a few tears. Look, it’s not brilliant by any means, but it is a pleasure to read and I’m not surprised Reese Witherspoon has snapped up the rights for a 13 part TV series. (I just googled a review and the US reviewer said exactly the same thing about Rumors and Fleetwood Mac—I feel quite clever!)

After She’s Gone is an unimaginatively titled Scandi crime by Camilla Grebe. But, title aside, Grebe had me completely sucked in to the story of a young cop, Malin, who has to return to her backwater Swedish village in the middle of winter (of course) to investigate a cold case (Ha ha). Malin herself had discovered the skeleton of a small child as a teenager, but now the body of a woman has been found in exactly the same place in the forest—25 years later. How do the two murders relate to each other? What has befallen Hanne, their colleague who has early  onset dementia and has been found bloodied and barefoot in the snow, unable to 
remember anything. And what of Hanne’s partner Peter? Grebe sets the crime against the backdrop of this small village where the mill and ironworks have shut down, and unemployment is high—as is the resentment towards the Syrian refugees housed nearby. The writing (and translation) are better than much crime writing and there are several brilliant twists. Most satisfying, if you like that kind of thing.

Lastly, a new Australian novel by Miriam Sved called A Universe of Sufficient Size. Weaving between Hungary in 1938 and Sydney in 2007, this book is understandably being likened to Anna Funder’s All that I Am. Based on the true story of her own grandparents, Sved gives us a wonderful recreation of Hungary before the war, and of a group of young mathematicians too engrossed with their work to fully understand what is about to befall them. I’m half way through this stunning novel and can’t wait to get back to it, which I’m going to do right now. Happy Easter! See you on D’Hill, Morgan

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