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Monday, January 30, 2012

Rediscovering Reading

This may sound a strange blog title...particularly coming from a writer but the sad truth is that in this busy world, I have lost the art of reading. Reading has been reduced to a self indulgent pleasure or a few snatched chapters before switching off the light at night.

To my shame, I get hopping mad when my husband starts to read because he is utterly single minded. He will sit and read a book from cover to cover in one sitting given half a chance and while I'm flitting around the house being busy and doing "stuff", he is sitting there READING A BOOK. He will then take it to bed and read it into the wee small hours without a thought that the light is driving his companion crazy!

I have just returned from a week in beautiful New Caledonia, most of which I spent by myself in a hotel in Noumea. DH  (who was doing a site visit in the north of the island) joined me for the weekend. The 4 days I spent by myself, I DID very little. Normally I have to train for holidays which are spent madly rushing around trying to see and do as much as we can in a short space of time.

Instead I wrote, I thought, I plotted and I read.

In keeping with my commitment to the Australian Women Writers Challenge I read Australian Women authors and here is the list.

A small child is found alone on a dock in Australia 1913 with nothing but a small white suitcase containing a book of fairy tales. This story traces the story of that little girl and the search for her identity. It is told through the eyes of the child as an older woman, her granddaughter and the mysterious "authoress" of the fairy tale book. What unfolds is a complex story of social class and rejection in the late nineteenth century. It is not a pretty tale and the fairy stories themselves give more clues to the true story and hints at a darker story than the one revealed on the surface. As the story moves between not only the three women's point of view, but also a fair smattering of the secondary characters, it is not an easy book to "get into". However once the rhythm is established it is a compelling with a satisfactory ending, at least for the granddaughter, Cassandra, who has her own demons to bear. 

INTRODUCING THE HONOURABLE PHRYNE FISHER:  The first 3 Phryne Fisher novels:  Kerry Greenwood
The wonderful Phyrne Fisher is the subject of seventeen books and is shortly to appear on our screens (ABC) in a series of single episodes based on a number of her books. Phryne is a "modern woman" of the 1920s, totally confident in her abilities and sexuality. Of course it helps to gorgeous and independently wealthy! The first 3 Phyrne books establish Phryne in Melbourne society and her cast of characters that surround her. Kerry's portrait of 1920s Melbourne is not tinged with rose. It was a rough and ugly world if you were poor and even though the root of the book is firmly local, the stories are universal (and just the right length for an easy holiday read).

Fiona Lowe writes as HMB "medical author" and Boomerang Bride is her first venture outside that sub genre into the wider world of romantic fiction with a "feisty" Australian bride turning up in small town Wisconsin looking for her online fiancee. Instead she meets Marc the viking. This is a wonderful story, written with a deft and light touch. Fiona's deep affection for a part of the USA she know well comes through and the cast of secondary characters are beautifully drawn with the right amount of pathos/humour. Despite knowing this is a romance and it will end HEA, there are enough credible twists and turns along the way to keep the protagonists at a distance while they come to know not only each other but their inner selves.

I did what my husband normally does...I read this book from cover to cover in one day. Admittedly most of that was spent on a long boat ride to an island, followed by an extended sit on a tropical beach. This is the last of Anne's Devil Rider series and I've loved them all. What I particularly like about Anne's writing is that she doesn't shy away from the reality of the period. Most of Regency England was spent at war and the men who returned from the war were inevitably damaged - physically and emotionally. Anne doesn't hold back in depicting the horror of what they endured and Luke, more than any of the other Devil Riders, is a badly wounded hero (all right I am a complete sucker for wounded heroes!) but so is Bella and together they have to heal the wounds of their horrible war. 

I also started:  HOUSE OF WOMEN:  Ann Whitfield also writing as Anne Brear

All Aussie women writers and all different! The only actual book I took with me was the Anne Gracie, the rest were transported via Kindle (imagine lugging that many books in your suitcase!). I am a total convert to ebooks!

In his few days with me, DH polished off his latest book (Dan Brown...say no more!) and "in desparation" picked up and read the Anne Gracie - in twenty four hours. A great fan of Bernard Cornwell and the wonderful Sharpe series, he chuckled his way through Luke and Bella's adventures and when he finished (with a smile on his face) pronounced it a "lovely story". Consider that a review!

What have you been doing for your holidays (summer or winter!) and what reading has taken your fancy?

Monday, January 16, 2012


Hot off the press:  

I am thrilled to announce that GATHER THE BONES, the book I have been loosely describing as "Downton Abbey with ghosts" (I will come up with a better description!), has been bought by Lyrical Press and will be published as an ebook in the mid year.

Watch this space!

A very excited...

Alison xxx