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ABBEY'S CHOICE JULY 2015 ----- An elegant and finely written novel examining what constitutes "home". Charlotte is struggling with motherhood and her husband Henry decides they should emigrate to Australia. Set in the 1960s, this will be a contender in all the literary prizes next year! Lindy Jones
Cambridge, 1963. Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes marriage and parenthood bring, with losing the time and the energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, wants things to be as they were and can't face the thought of another English winter.
A brochure slipped through the letterbox slot brings him the answer: 'Australia brings out the best in you'. Despite wanting to stay in the place that she knows, Charlotte is too worn out to fight. Before she has a chance to realise what it will mean, she is travelling to the other side of the world.
Arriving in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on both Henry and Charlotte and slowly reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs and how far she'll go to find her way home...
Vancouver is the story Paul would tell if he were living in plague times-a story that comforts, a story that wards of evil. His story is about the giant that influenced his life, it's about the day the world changed, and it's about what happens when our giants come tumbling down. Think, any one of Giovanni Boccaccio's stories from, Decameron.
"This floored me. The format is a game changer and the linked novellas combine to create the best book I've read in 12 years, since David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.Five complex and distinct stories set in New York, Brisbane, Vancouver, Alaska and L.A. that somehow magically meet-I can't quite believe it. Earls has never had his due but if this doesn't get incredible press from here to Timbuktu, then publishing truly is broken. Or maybe he just fixed it, because Wisdom Tree is a transcendent wonder." Chris Flynn, author of Tiger in Eden and The Glass Kingdom
"Nick Earls is one of Australia's most quietly perceptive writers, and this loosely linked quintet of novellas proves just how observant he is on the ways of contemporary life. Work, family, failure and persistence are the major themes. After finishing the novellas I came away moved, contemplative and appreciative of the power of a well turned novella to convey ideas beyond its word count... Unreservedly recommended." Lindy Jones, Abbey's Bookshop
If you love stories by John Green, Rainbow Rowell or Melina Marchetta you will love this story. Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older... Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second. Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they'd surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning. Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— On an orange orchard in rural Australia, from age three Alice Murray has been learning to play the piano. When her talents are soon recognised, Alice’s mother sends her to boarding school in England. As doors open and opportunities present themselves, Alice continues her musical education abroad all the while trying to reconcile her deep yearning to return home to her mother, with her dream of becoming a concert pianist. It’s during her time spent in a musical summer program at Oxford that she meets Edward, an intriguing, seemingly worldly economics professor. What she believes to be a powerful love, Alice soon realises is a harrowing force threatening to destroy and isolate her from the sanctuary of her music.
This compelling, bittersweet novel is a beautiful exploration of the transcendental nature of music and the restorative powers of love. In later years, as music once again makes its way into Alice’s life, she begins to realise that resurrection is never an impossibility, and that what is broken can, with a little faith and determination, be mended. Lyrical and intelligent in its style, this book will stay with you well after you have turned the last page. Jessica Slade
A gripping and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Elizabeth is Missing and the work of Elizabeth Harrower.
“I have no use for forgiveness, not yet. But other ideas like that, kindness, for example, I think that is fundamental. Resurrection; I like that too. And love, of course, love, love, love.”
Alice Murray learns to play the piano aged three on an orange orchard in rural Australia. Recognising her daughter's gift, her mother sends Alice to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the rest of her childhood. Then she's offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, and on a summer school in Oxford she meets Edward, an economics professor who sweeps her off her feet. Alice soon finds that Edwards is damaged, and she's trapped. She clings to her playing and to her dream of becoming a concert pianist, until disaster strikes.
Increasingly isolated as the years unravel, eventually Alice can't find it in herself to carry on. Then she hears the most beautiful music from the walls of her house. This novel's love story is that of a woman who must embrace life again if she is to survive.
Inspiring and compelling, it explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music and love.
In 1920s Brisbane, Lizzie O'Dea wants to get away from her dad and the memories of her mum that haunt her. At the races, she meets attractive, war-scarred Joe. When he says that he wants to marry her and take her away to far-flung Townsville, Lizzie sees her chance to escape. But Lizzie soon falls through what she'd thought was a safety net. On the fringes of society, she discovers a new sense of independence and sexuality, love and friendship. It's a precarious life, though. Always on the edge of collapse, eventually it spins out of control. Two decades later, Lizzie is sick and worn out. Lying in a Brisbane lock hospital, she thinks about Joe, who's been lost to her for twenty years. But she's a survivor. There's hope yet. Treading Air is the remarkably vivid tale of a young Australian working-class rebel who clashed with the expectations of her world, and a powerful debut from award-winning Queensland author Ariella Van Luyn.
When a new family moves in next door, it takes Anna just two days to realise something is very wrong. She can hear their five-year-old daughter Charlie crying, then sees injuries on the little girl which cannot be ignored. Anna reports the family to the police and social services but when no one comes to Charlie's aid, Anna understands that she is alone with her fears for the child's life. So when Charlie comes to her door asking for help, the only thing Anna can think to do is take the girl and run. Raising delicate but deeply felt questions about our individual responsibility for the children around us, Promise is a novel that obliges the reader to ask: if Charlie were my neighbour, what would I do?
The doyenne of women's fiction West Australian Over the years, the residents of Emerald Street have become more than just neighbours, they have built lasting friendships over a drink and chat on their back verandahs. Now a new chapter begins with the children having left home. Helen and Dennis have moved from their high maintenance family property to an apartment by the river with all the mod cons. For Joyce and Mac, the empty nest has Joyce craving a new challenge, while Mac fancies retirement on the south coast. Meanwhile, Polly embarks on a surprising long-distance relationship. But she worries about her friend next door. Stella's erratic behaviour is starting to resemble something much more serious than endearing eccentricity...
Line by line, Cahill's writing is musical, assured: cumulatively, her seriousness is evident, her ambition impressive. - Hilary Mantel Letter to Pessoa is the first collection of short stories by award-winning Goan-Australian poet Michelle Cahill. It is an imaginative tour de force, portraying the experiences of a whole range of characters, including a scientist, a cat and a young Indian female version of Joseph Conrad, in settings across the world, from Barcelona to Capetown, Boston to Chiang Mai, Kathmandu to Krakow. Like the poet Fernando Pessoa, who gives the collection its title, and who created as many as seventy versions of himself, Cahill displays a remarkable inventiveness, making distant landscapes and situations come alive, in compelling detail, as they express the fear and longing, obsession and outrage, of the people caught up in them. Displaying its awareness of the power of writing to create realities, the collection also includes a number of fictions in letter form, to Jacques Derrida, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet and Margaret Atwood - and to JM Coetzee, from his character Melanie Isaacs.
Wiremu Heke of Aramoana joins a sealing boat on a voyage from Tasmania to Western Australia. He is on a quest to avenge the destruction of his village but soon finds himself a part of the violent and lawless world that has claimed the lives of those he's known. It's a world inhabited by men from many nations. Men who plunder seal colonies and steal women and children from the indigenous communities who live on the islands and shorelines of Australia's south.
This stunning sequel to Adam's Empire, centred on his remote sheep station Kalinda, tracks the development of Adam's family. Having grown up as a poor orphan child, Adam finds himself financially secure, in love and a father. But Adam's new found bliss is short lived. His relationship with his lover, Nellie, collapses under societal pressure and lawyers are threatening to take away his young daughter. When WWII breaks out, Adam enlists in the army and finds himself stationed in Nazi-occupied Greece. Heartbroken and far away from everything he knows, will he decide to give love another chance? As the decades pass, the lives of Adam and his family will intertwine in ways they never expected. Kalinda, set against a backdrop of some of Australia's most stunning scenery, explores the lengths people will go to for love and what it really means to be a family.
Sixteen exquisite stories exploring recent Chinese migration to Australia and elsewhere, exploring intergenerational and interracial relationships, the search for meaning, and the effects of isolation and the inability to express oneself in a second language. Best-selling author, Debra Adelaide, says Isabelle Li's prose is powerful, exquisite and finely tuned, and each story draws us deeper into the complex emotional and cultural dilemmas of characters who are solitary, sensitive, perceptive and powerless, sometimes all at once. 'What does it take to master a second language, to be so skilled in that language that you're published in it? Chinese/Australian writer and translator Isabelle Li reminds us that learning to love an adopted language does not come without its struggles.' ABC Radio National
'Meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Perfumer's Secret solidifies McIntosh's place as one of Australia's most loved storytellers.' 2015 Booktopia Book of the Year 'I am at one with Nature's perfection - her beauty, her colours, her fragrances - and she has allowed me to glimpse it in a man.' On the eve of the First World War, Fleurette, the only daughter of the wealthy Delacroix perfume dynasty, is being forced to marry a man she loathes, Aimery De Lasset, head of the pre-eminent perfume house in France. It is only the rally to the frontlines that saves her from sharing his bed. When she receives an unexpected letter from Aimery's estranged brother, Fleurette is left holding a terrible secret, and the sparks of a powerful passion. Her discoveries risk shattering the two families, bringing tragedy to both their perfume empires. The Perfumer's Secret is an intoxicating feast for the senses, a dramatic story of duty, deception and desire.
Landscape with Landscape is Gerald Murnane's fourth book, after The Plains, and his first collection of short fiction. When it was first published, thirty years ago, it was cruelly reviewed. 'I feel sorry for my fourth-eldest, which of all my book-children was the most brutally treated in its early years,' Murnane writes in his foreword to this new edition. In hindsight it can be seen to contain some of his best writing, and to offer a wide-ranging exploration of the different landscapes which make up the imagination of this extraordinary Australian writer. Five of the six loosely connected stories also trace a journey through the suburbs of Melbourne in the 1960s, as the writer negotiates the conflicting demands of Catholicism and sex, self-consciousness and intimacy, alcohol and literature. The sixth story, 'The Battle of Acosta Nu', is remarkable for its depth of emotion, as it imagines a Paraguayan man imagining a country called Australia, while his son sickens and dies before his eyes.
It's been eleven years since Dr Peta Woodward, born into a horse-breeding dynasty, fled the family stud in the wake of a deadly tragedy that split her family apart. Carrying wounds that have never truly healed, Peta has focused on helping others. But when an injury during a solo trip through the Australian high country leaves her stranded, the man who comes to her rescue is Craig Munroe, a born and bred high-country horseman, and the kind of man legends are written about. Stuck in the tiny town of Yarraman Falls while she recovers, Peta is surrounded by prying eyes and heartbreaking reminders of all she has lost. But while she resolves to leave as soon as she can, fate has other ideas...
At the turn of the last century, in the first years of the new nation, Clytie Hart, bareback rider, travels with her mother and her circus family through the back roads of rural Victoria. Wildebrand’s Circus has seen better days and when they are persuaded to perform at Hufnung, a small, forgotten town in the Gold Triangle, Clytie’s life is changed forever.
Little does she know that her chance meeting on the side of the road with Rom, a handsome stranger, will be the catalyst that stops her roving ways and sees her settling into life on the edge of a small country town. Love for her mother and Rom cements Clytie's place in town, but soon she is left to fend for herself as tragedy and war strike. And without the help and the love of friends found in the most unlikely of places, Clytie will never solve the tragic mystery that threatens to blight her life forever.
Golden Hope is a story is as wide and sweeping as the landscape itself, told by a master storyteller at the peak of her powers.
'Shirm is a writer of deft skill. Her prose is gentle, uncluttered, and suffused with a compassionate, clear-eyed intelligence. Delicate, restrained and sensitive, Where the Light Falls is nonetheless steadfast in its examination of our responsibilities as artists, and as people'. Peggy Frew, author of Hope Farm..'In lean, elegant prose Shirm explores the silences and mysteries that shape the artist's mind and work. The novel's landscapes are vivid and charged - the mystical Lake George, the frozen streets of a scarred Berlin. Against these atmospheric backdrops guilt and regret, memory and sensation, art and life collide. Through her acutely observed portrait of Andrew, Shirm asks how deeply the artist must know himself before he can make art from the lives of others.' Mireille Juchau, author of The World Without Us..Andrew, a photographer compelled by 'the honesty in broken things', returns to Australia when he hears that his former girlfriend has disappeared. By the time he gets back, no body has been found. He prolongs his stay in Australia to investigate her shadowy past, putting his current relationship at risk for reasons he barely understands. At the same time he meets a damaged girl whom he knows will be a riveting subject for his new series of photos. As he struggles to make sense of his motivations, Andrew realises that photography has become an obsession predicated on his need to hold on to the things he has lost in his life. He finds himself re-evaluating his past and his art in this deeply moving and insightful debut novel from a rising star of Australian literature.
Caro and Anna are best friends... they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed... There's been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days, as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets...The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don't tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame... A hard-hitting, provocative and gripping read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.
Tender and brutal and blazingly brilliant, the new novel from the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap takes an unflinching look at modern Australia - at our hopes and dreams, our friendships and our families - and asks what it means to be a good person, and what it takes to become one.
He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.
His whole life, Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done-every thought, every dream, every action-takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys-he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.
He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.
Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?
A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families. It is about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. Barracuda is brutal, tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.
'Michelle Wright's stories are beautifully drawn portals into complex, layered, sometimes painful worlds ...Every story surprised me in a different way; I was by turns, unsettled, saddened, delighted and uplifted.' Sofie Laguna, Miles Franklin-winning author of The Eye of the Sheep..Fine shines a light into the quiet corners of human life. By observing the traumas, doubts and isolation of its characters, the book reveals the strength and fragility of people and relationships...These stories explore the silent sorrows, desires and regrets that we choose to hide when we say that we are 'fine'. As they describe moments big and small in the lives of ordinary people, they invite us to think about who we are when no one is looking...By illuminating these quiet moments in ordinary lives, Michelle Wright follows in a tradition which includes Olga Masters, Amy Witting and Alice Munro. Many of these stories have won Australian and international awards, and this collection was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Fine is a remarkable debut of stunning grace, breadth and beauty...' Fine is indeed a welcome new contribution to the Australian short fiction renaissance.' Maxine Beneba Clarke, award-winning author of Foreign Soil..'I was absorbed in every story's world. Utterly real and moving ...Wright creates whole worlds in a few pages of sharp tuneful prose.' Paddy O'Reilly, award-winning author of Peripheral Vision