ABBEY'S CHOICE SEPTEMBER 2015
----- When Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure.
It's a season marked not only by the sparsity of whales and the vagaries of weather, but also by the arrival of John Beck, an itinerant whale man with a murky past, on whom Mary promptly develops an all-consuming crush. But hers is not the only romance to blossom amidst the blubber...
Swinging from Mary's hopes and disappointments, both domestic and romantic, to the challenges that beset their tiny whaling operation, Rush Oh! is a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history, when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance with a pod of frisky Killer whales - and in particular, a Killer whale named Tom.
'Hugely funny and peopled with a cast of characters I came to treasure like my own friends, Rush Oh! reminded me why I love reading.' - Hannah Kent
An old woman sits waiting in a village that clings to a Turkish mountainside, where the women weave rugs, make tea and keep blood secrets that span generations.
Berna can see what others cannot, so her secrets are deeper and darker than most. It is time for her to tell her story, even though the man for whom her words are meant won't hear them. It is time for the truth to be told...
Nearly a hundred years before, her father James had come to the village on the back of a donkey, gravely ill, rescued from the abandoned trenches of Gallipoli by a Turkish boy whose life he had earlier spared. James made his life there, never returning to Australia and never realising that his own father was indeed the near-mythical bushranger that the gossips had hinted at when he'd been a boy growing up in Beechworth...
Now, as Berna waits, a young man from Melbourne approaches to visit his parents' village, against the vehement opposition of his cursed, tight-lipped grandfather. What is the astonishing story behind the dark deeds that connect the two men, unknown to each other and living almost a century apart?
The Secret Son is a remarkable debut, a dazzlingly original, audacious and exhilarating novel. At once joyous and haunting, it is a moving meditation on love, honour and belonging, as well as a story about the strength of women and what it means to be a good man...
Where There's Smoke presents outstanding short fiction by Australia's finest male writers. These are tales of love, secrets, doubt and torment, the everyday and the extraordinary.
A man sleeps at the site of a massacre and wakes refreshed. An unassuming piano tuner is sent off to contribute to the war effort. A woman with Alzheimer's is dragged along by her interfering son to visit Uluru. Brilliant, shocking and profound, these tales will leave you reeling in ways that only a great short story can.
Features writing by D.B.C. Pierre, Nam Le, Rodney Hall, J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Patric, Murray Bail, Tony Birch, David Malouf, Shane Maloney, Tim Winton, Patrick Cullen, Alex Miller, Kim Scott, Liam Davidson, Frank Moorhouse, Ryan O'Neill, James Bradley, Patrick Holland, Peter Goldsworthy, Chris Womersley.
At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn't to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too. Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street. Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different. Three lost people needing to be found. But they don't know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.
Tilly Dunnage has come home to care for her mad old mother. She left the small Victorian town of Dungatar years before, and became an accomplished couturier in Paris. Now she earns her living making exquisite frocks for the people who drove her away when she was ten. Through the long Dungatar nights, she sits at her sewing machine, planning revenge. The Dressmaker is a modern Australian classic, much loved for its bittersweet humour. Set in the 1950s, its subjects include haute couture, love and hate, and a cast of engagingly eccentric characters.
It is now a major motion picture, starring Kate Winslet and fine Australian actors including Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Liam Hemsworth and extras from the author's hometown of Jerilderie.
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK
----- Jonathan's wife has left him after many years of marriage - for another woman. Feeling vulnerable and confused, he starts to spend more time at what was their weekender, on one of the Noosa lakes. He's a successful lawyer and certainly not in bad shape for a man in his 50s, and so it seems he constitutes a good catch. He's not too sure if he wants to replace the love of his life, but then again, perhaps he does need someone to fill in the gap. The Landing, where his weekender is, contains a small and close-knit community, and this charming novel keenly observes the variety and connections of people who live there. From the retired Scottish doctor who still has an eye for the ladies, to the put-upon woman caught between her overbearing and impossible mother and her daughter who stole her neighbour's middle-aged husband, to the much-married exotic visitor with a taste for living on someone else's money, to the sadly neglected child who just wants someone to love, this is a modern comedy of manners, and very enjoyable! Lindy
Jonathan Lott is confused. His wife has left him for a woman and he doesn't like living alone. Is it true that an about-to-be-divorced man in possession of a good fortune is in need of a new wife? Would Penny Collins do, divorced herself, school teacher and frustrated artist? What about beautiful Anna, blown in from who knows where, trailing broken marriages behind her? There's a lot happening at The Landing, where Jonathan has his beach house, and he's about to find out how much love matters... Susan Johnson's stunning new novel, written with her trademark wit and insight, brilliantly observes what it is to be human and to love: the betrayals, the long and the short alliances, the disappointments and the joys. The Landing celebrates all of it with verve and style.
Weaving a vivid day-in-the-life narrative through a tapestry of memory, love and loss, The Waiting Room captures the sights, sounds, accents and animosities, of a country overflowing with stories.
The Waiting Room follows Dina, a family doctor living in the melting pot city of Haifa, Israel in the late 90s. Born in the Jewish enclave in Australia of St Kilda, to Holocaust survivors, Dina left behind a childhood marred by misery and the tragedies of the past to build a new life for herself in the Promised Land. But after starting a family of her own, she finds her life falling apart beneath the demands of her eccentric patients, a marriage starting to fray, the ever-present threat of terrorist attack, and the ghost of her mother, haunting her with memories that Dina would love to leave on the other side of the world.
Leah plumbs the depths of her characters' memories, both the sweet and the heart-wrenching, reaching back in a single climactic day through six decades and across three continents to uncover a truth that could save Dina's sanity-and her life.
New South Wales, 1837, and settlers in search of fertile country are venturing far outside the colony. Literally cutting a swathe through the bush with their bare hands, they lay claim to territory beyond government jurisdiction - and the reach of the law. As she accepts a position on one such farm, seventeen-year-old Kate Carter is unaware she is entering a land of outlaws, adventurers and murderous natives. Because the first people of this new world will no longer accept the white man's advance, and retaliatory attacks on both sides have made it a frontier on the brink of war. Into Kate's path comes Bronzewing, a young white man schooled by a settler family yet raised within an Aboriginal tribe. Caught between two worlds, Bronzewing strives to protect his adopted people and their vanishing civilisation. But as he and Kate will discover, 'beyond the outer limits' is a beautiful yet terrifying place, where it's impossible to know who is friend and who is enemy...
'For nearly five years I have wanted to write something about the surrealist painter Emil Bafdescu: about his paintings, one of which hangs in a little restaurant in Melbourne, and about his disappearance, which is still a mystery. But this is probably not going to be the book I imagined. Nothing has quite worked out the way I planned.'
With the inheritance he received upon his father's death, Miles has come to Europe on the trail of the Romanian surrealist, who disappeared into a forest in 1967. But in trying to unravel the mystery of Bafdescu's secret life, Miles must also reckon with his own. Faced with a language and a landscape that remain stubbornly out of reach, and condemned to wait for someone who may never arrive, Miles is haunted by thoughts of his ex-girlfriend, Alice, and the trip they took to Venice that ended their relationship. Uncanny, occasionally absurd, and utterly original, Fever of Animals is a beautifully written meditation on art and grief.
The eighth edition of Award Winning Australian Writing (AWAW) continues its commitment to showcasing the best short stories and poems that have won competitions around the country. This year, AWAW is proudly launching at the Melbourne Writers Festival, on 30 August at 5pm. The collection will feature over fifty writers and competitions. It will include a foreword by Elizabeth Flux, freelance writer and editor of Voiceworks magazine. Both established and emerging writers are featured in this year's anthology, including Kevin Gillam, Emmie Rae, Jessica Yu, Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Chloe Wilson, who won The Age Short Story Competition in 2012, and David Campbell, who has published two books of original Australian verse and a collection of short stories, and has been published extensively in Australian short story and poetry anthologies.
The thing that makes you, it never goes. A sleek high-speed train glides silently through the French countryside, bearing Michael, an Australian writer, and his travelling world of memory and speculation. Melbourne, 1946, calls to him: the pressure cooker of the city during World War II has produced a small creative miracle, and at this pivotal moment the lives of his newly married parents, a group of restless artists, a proud old woman with a tent for a home, a journalist, a gallery owner, a farmer and a factory developer irrevocably intersect. And all the while the Spirit of Progress, the locomotive of the new age, roars through their lives like time's arrow, pointing to the future and the post-war world only some of them will enter.
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.
It's a great country, but never trust it, son. It's beautiful but it's treacherous. Adam Ross had seen the way his country could destroy a man. Growing up in the Australian outback in the first half of the twentieth century with no formal education, no parents and no one to love him, he learned to fend for himself. But when he forms an unlikely friendship with Jimmy, who works in the Opal mines, his luck begins to change. The land that stole Adam's father gives him an opportunity to start anew. Armed with determination and ambition, Adam treks west to carve himself an empire. However, success doesn't come easy and Adam, a man who spent much of his life devoid of love, soon finds himself caught between two women. Torn between his love for his cold-hearted wife and his mistress, Adam must make decisions about his future and the type of man he wants to be.
Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy - including the identity of the baby's father - hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest, even while her own life begins to crumble around her. For Floss, Neva's grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva's situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter's-a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all.
This collection brings together in one distinguished volume a range of stories written over twenty-five years by this internationally acclaimed author. Janette Turner Hospital's sensuous prose reveals the inner lives of a fascinating gallery of characters caught between cultures. Some cross borders of class, gender and race, dislocated in unfamiliar and unpredictable physical worlds; others cross borders between the past and the present, blurring memory and perception in moments of crisis and illumination.
For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-year letter titled 'Hello from the Gillespies'. It's always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself - she tells the truth. The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband seems to be having a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can't stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones. Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together - and pull themselves together - in wonderfully surprising ways.
'To tell you the truth, I kinda felt sorry for the kid. There was something in his eyes that stirred a memory inside me. For a moment, I was him, I was that boy hiding by the woodshed...' An elderly man, living alone in the suburbs, thinks back on his life - the missed opportunities, the shocking betrayals, the rare moments of joy. When his ten-year-old neighbour hides in his garden one afternoon, they begin an unexpected friendship that offers a reprieve from their individual struggles. The boy, often left on his own by his mother, finds solace in gardening and playing chess with his new friend, who is still battling the demons of his past. As a sinister figure enters the boy's life, he must choose between a burgeoning friendship and blood ties. Can the old man protect the boy he has come to know - and redeem the boy he once was? A poignant debut novel by a fresh Australian voice, The Promise Seed will move and mesmerise you.
Henri and Isobel are artists. What they do with art, Stella and Allegra do with passion. Isobel tries to unravel the secrets of her family: her kind but crazy mother, Stella; her reprobate but dearly loved father, Henri; and her campaigning, dynamic sister Allegra. Set in Melbourne and Milan, Mad Meg takes the reader through the history of an Australian-Italian family; through a tapestry of interconnecting lives tangled against the backdrop of two very different countries.
Bec Roberts and her husband Andy adore each other. They're also passionate about their beloved station, Coolibah Creek, but are despairing as a relentless drought ravages their property. Bec is worried, too, about her best friend and neighbour, Maggie O'Donnell. Married to a difficult, hard-drinking man who's away for long periods, Maggie finds herself increasingly drawn to a stockman who works for the family. When tragedy strikes, Bec is pushed to the very limits of her endurance. How will her family and Coolibah endure the challenges they're facing?. Suspenseful and action-packed, Coolibah Creek is about a woman who has to muster all the strength and determination she has in the face of adversity. It is also about the power of love.
With the success of her debut novel Thornwood House still fresh, Anna Romer's new novel Lyrebird Hill promises to be every bit as captivating. Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life a loving boyfriend, a career she loves but in one terrible moment, her life begins to unravel.
The discovery that the death of her beloved sister, so many years ago, was not the accident she'd always been told makes her question all she's known about herself. Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, the beautiful bushland property where she grew up with her mother and sister, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been blocked in her memory. Snatches of her childhood with her beautiful sister, and Ruby's only friendship with the boy from the next property, a foster kid she'd play games with in the bush at midnight. Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol. Brenna is about to be hanged for murder, and Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence.
As she reads, the gaps in Ruby's memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.
There is no stretch of land on earth more ancient than this. And so it is blunt and red and barren, littered with the fragments of broken mountains, flat, waterless. Tourmaline, in outback Western Australia, is dying: its mines lie abandoned and drought has taken hold. When the enigmatic diviner Michael Random emerges from the desert, desperate townspeople see him as a messiah. Random begins to spread the word of God-and to promise them water, that most precious resource. Both a complex spiritual parable and an enduring apocalyptic vision, Tourmaline is Randolph Stow's most controversial novel.
Crispin Clare returns to his ancestral home in Suffolk to recover from a tropical disease he contracted while working in the Pacific. His life is now one of quiet mornings and peaceful afternoons spent in the garden. Suffering physically and psychologically, Clare turns to writing as a source of therapy. Intrigued by the local folklore he re-examines his life and the world around him through myth and legend. Ouija-board conversations, illness-induced fever dreams and strange voices in his head blur the lines between reality and these mythic tales. Clare's road to recovery is full of twists and turns. Weaving old-English legends with contemporary fables, Stow creates an imaginative landscape unlike any other. The Girl Green as Elderflower is an exceptional story of loss and exile.
In the quiet seafaring town of Tornwich little goes unnoticed. Neighbourhood gossip spreads like wildfire, leaving few skeletons in closets. But late one night a man is shot dead in his home. A short time later another body is discovered. The town is gripped by fear. The finger of blame is pointed in all directions. False accusations and outlandish charges leave a trail of shattered relationships in their wake - and still the crimes remain unsolved, and the culprit at large. Far more than a murder mystery, The Suburbs of Hell is a profoundly disturbing psychological drama with a devastating conclusion. Inspired by the Nedlands Monster, a serial killer who terrorised Perth in the 1960s, The Suburbs of Hell is an atmospheric thriller from one of Australia's most significant writers.
Exhausted and losing faith, Anglican minister Stephen Heriot abandons his mission in Australia's northwest. Wracked with guilt for his past transgressions, Heriot flees to the vast emptiness of the outback, searching for the islands of the Aboriginal dead. In the soul country of the desert he begins to reflect: was his life's work worthwhile? Are history's crimes also our own? Can any connection to be found in the unrelenting isolation of the land?
When Patrol Officer Alistair Cawdor commits suicide on a small island off New Guinea a colonial inquest is launched. Five witnesses are called to give testimony: the government interpreter, the territory's cadet officer, a planter who claims ownership of the island, one of his servants and the son of the local chief. Each has a disturbing story to tell. Cawdor's secret past will eventually be put together, piece by damning piece. But what of the ominous newcomer Metusela, and the unidentified visitant that has inspired a cargo cult? First published in 1979, Randolph Stow's novel Visitants was informed by the author's own time in the Trobriand Islands two decades earlier. It is one of the most potent examinations of Australian colonialism.