I predict almost every wrap-up-the-year column and article this year, no matter the subject matter, will comment on this ‘annus horribilis’, so take it as a given here. What I like to do at this time of year when all the big books are out, is to alert you to lesser known titles, those that may get buried under the Flanagans, Daltons, Garners et al.
Murmurations by Adelaide author, Carol Lefevre, is a beautiful novella—a collection of inter-related stories about a group of women, all of whom are affected by the possibly mysterious death of the local doctor’s wife, Ellis Cleary. As Debra Adelaide notes on the back cover ‘There is not a false note here, not a single word out of place, not one detail that is irrelevant.’ This is a gentle, lovely book to be savoured by those who love good writing.
Another short, wondrous book is Help Yourself—three longish stories by the fabulous Curtis Sittenfeld (Rodham, Eligible). Sittenfeld’s unique humour shines through as does her deep insight into the human condition. The first story White Women LOL is a story about a woman who makes a terrible mistake with some black people which goes viral. You cringe and laugh at the same time.
I’m reading the most gorgeous book by American writer, Valerie Martin, who won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her earlier book Property. Set in a villa in Tuscany (sigh!) and America over different time spans, this is (partly) about the role and responsibility of the writer as the title, I Give it To You, relates to what the Italian Beatrice says to her guest, the writer Jan, about the story of her family’s tragic experiences during WWII. Engrossing and beautifully written.
And just to include a bloke, Doom Creek, Alan Carter’s second crime novel set in the Marlborough country of NZ and featuring the rather attractive Nick Chester, is another superbly plotted page-turner with excellent characterisation and stunning scenery. To be honest, things get slightly confusing towards the end, with overlapping crimes and too many characters…but still, well worth the ride.
See you on D’hill, but if not, have a wonderful festive season and summer. And a big Thank-you to my wonderful staff, Louise, Olivia, Isabel, Sofia and Dasha. Morgan