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Freya

Freya

Anthony Quinn

$32.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— A beautifully written portrait of an extraordinary woman. Following the life of Freya Wyley as she tried to find her place in the world and forge a career as a political journalist. I loved this book - so much so I just had to read it twice! Jessica Slade

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London, May 1945. Freya Wyley, twenty, meets Nancy Holdaway, eighteen, amid the wild celebrations of VE Day, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades.

Freya, wilful, ambitious, outspoken, pursues a career in newspapers which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart, while Nancy, gentler, less self-confident, struggles to get her first novel published. Both friends become entangled at university with Robert Cosway, a charismatic young man whose own ambition will have a momentous bearing on their lives.

Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman's life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists.

Beneath the relentless thrum of changing times and a city being reshaped, we glimpse the eternal: the battles fought by women in pursuit of independence, the intimate mysteries of the human heart, and the search for love.  

Stretching from the Nuremberg war trials to the advent of the TV celebrity, from innocence abroad to bitter experience at home, Freya presents the portrait of an extraordinary woman taking arms against a sea of political and personal tumult.
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The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue Des Martyrs

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue Des Martyrs

Elaine Sciolino

$36.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sciolino so perfectly captures the hustle and bustle of one of the liveliest streets in Paris. One of the best travel books I have read in recent times! Siân McNabney

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Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living.

I can never be sad on the rue des Martyrs,  Sciolino explains, as she celebrates the neighborhood's rich history and vibrant lives. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and Francois Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents - the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who's been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers-bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty.

The Only Street in Paris will make readers hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing.
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Good People

Good People

Nir Baram ,  Jeffrey Green

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Good People follows the turbulent lives of a young Russian would-be poet, and a German businessman, two people whom you alternately pity and despise! Both are struggling (and failing) to maintain an ethical morality in 1930's Berlin/Moscow, whilst trying to hold on to ambition and family. The suffocating environment that Baram so effectively invokes leaves you wondering how anyone came out of that period emotionally intact, let alone without a stained character. Siân McNabney

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It's late 1938. Thomas Heiselberg has built a career in Berlin as a market researcher for an American advertising company. In Leningrad, twenty-two-year-old Sasha Weissberg has grown up eavesdropping on the intellectual conversations in her parents' literary salon.They each have grand plans for their lives. Neither of them thinks about politics too much, but after catastrophe strikes they will have no choice. Thomas puts his research skills to work elaborating Nazi propaganda. Sasha persuades herself that working as a literary editor of confessions for Stalin's secret police is the only way to save her family. When destiny brings them together, they will have to face the consequences of the decisions they have made. Nir Baram's Good People has been showered with praise in many countries. With its acute awareness of the individual amid towering historical landscapes, it is a tour de force: sparkling, erudite, a glimpse into the abyss.
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The Trap

The Trap

Melanie Raabe ,  Imogen Taylor (Trans.)

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is the second crime fiction novel I've read recently that has come out of Germany. The first was The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango and now The Trap by Melanie Raabe. Both have been debut novels, both have featured writing and story-telling of the highest order, both have Imogen Taylor as translator and both come from Text Publishing. And both feature fictional authors with secrets to hide.

Another common element is that both authors have links with the dramatic arts, Arango being an award-winning screenplay writer and Raabe being an actor as well as a stage and screenwriter. I mention this because there is a freshness to the intensity of each novel that I think comes about because the authors know they are writing for a sophisticated audience who, having read many thrillers and seen many crime television shows and movies, are very knowledgable of the tropes of the genre. 

Over four days I was drawn in to the hermetic world of Linda Conrads, an author who, despite considerable success, is unable to leave her house due to trauma brought on by her being the sole witness to the escaping murderer of her sister. The murderer was never caught and in the twelve years that have since passed, her illness has meant all her contact with the outside world is through technology and a small cohort of colleagues such as her publisher and agent. Linda Conrads is, despite her wish to be well again, the mysterious reclusive author. Then, on television, she sees the face of the murderer.

Written in the first person, it doesn't take long for the reader to be cocooned in the hothouse paranoia that exists in Linda Conrads' head as she devises a trap to draw out her sister's murderer and extract a confession. This is a super-taut psycho-thriller.

Craig Kirchner


p.s. Melanie Raabe doesn't have a sister and her brother is alive and well.


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"I know who killed my sister. I wrote this book for him."

Twelve years ago, Linda's sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him.

Now, all these years later, she's just seen him again on TV.

He's become a well-known journalist, and Linda–a famous novelist and infamous recluse–knows no one will believe her if she accuses him.

She does the only thing she can think of: she sets a trap, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman.

When Blood Sisters is published, Linda agrees to give just one media interview.

At home.

To the one person who knows more about the case than she does...

The Trap by Melanie Raabe at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Dangerous to Know: Natalie King #2

Dangerous to Know: Natalie King #2

Anne Buist

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Anne Buist's forensic psychiatrist Dr Natalie King has been described as having shades of Lisbeth Salander (Stieg Larsson's tattooed 'Girl') about her, what with the motorbike and rock chic. But her vulnerabilities that come via an ongoing battle with depression also bring to mind a strong impression of a brunette version of Carrie Mathison from the TV series Homeland.

Making her debut in Medea's Curse, Natalie King is a strong personality with intelligence and intuition who is, however, in a struggle with how to move forward in her relationships and lifestyle.

For lovers of medical thriller/dramas, there's plenty of medical jargon and psych-terminology that steep the book in authenticity (Buist is a leading perinatal psychiatrist and Chair of Women's Mental Health at University of Melbourne).

But it is the unnerving presence of new employer, Frank Moreton and his tragic history of pregnant wives that really draw you in. Just what is going on? Is he a murderer? Buist interleaves the action with short chapters written from Frank's viewpoint and this works wonderfully in unsettling the reader. As more and more is revealed about Frank and his creepy family (who hold themselves in such lofty regard), this story really does have you guessing right till the end as to 'who did what?' and 'why?'.

Craig Kirchner

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Natalie King is back: back from a stay on the psych ward. Her reluctance to live a quiet life has contributed to a severe depressive episode, and now it's time for a retreat to the country. A borrowed house on the Great Ocean Road; a low-key research job at a provincial university nearby.

But Natalie and trouble have a strange mutual fascination. Her charismatic new boss Frank is friendly, even attractive. But it turns out his pregnant wife is an old enemy of Natalie's. And when Frank's tragic personal history is revealed - then reprised in the most shocking way - Natalie finds herself drawn deep into a mystery. And even deeper into danger.

Dangerous to Know is the second gripping psychological thriller to feature Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist, following Medea's Curse.
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The Heat

The Heat

Garry Disher

$29.99
ABBEY'S CHOICE NOVEMBER 2015 ----- The last outing for Garry Disher's career-criminal Wyatt was in the 2010 Ned Kelly Award Best Fiction winner (simply titled Wyatt).

In this, the eighth in the series, most of the action takes place on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and it's fun to think that somewhere in Noosa this summer a holiday-maker will be immersed in this perfect holiday read and the fictional mayhem will be just that bit more authentic!

A lone wolf, driven not so much by a desire for material wealth as a desire to work only infrequently, Wyatt is quite different to his criminal milieu. For a start, he's a man very in control of his environment and his behaviours. He moves like a shark among the rest of us and Disher's wry observations, seen through Wyatt's eyes, are enjoyable and revealing. I now also know a lot more of criminal techniques and methods.

Perhaps most astonishing of all, Wyatt is a Victorian with no interest in the AFL! Grab this for a great time following the double-dealing among criminals. Craig Kirchner

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Wyatt needs a job.

A bank job would be nice, or a security van hold-up. As long as he doesn’t have to work with cocky idiots and strung-out meth-heads like the Pepper brothers. That’s the sort of miscalculation that buys you the wrong kind of time.

So he contacts a man who in the past put him on the right kind of heist. And finds himself in Noosa, stealing a painting for Hannah Sten.

He knows how it’s done: case the premises, set up escape routes and failsafes, get in and get out with the goods unrecognised. Make a good plan; back it up with another. And be very, very careful.

But who is his client? Who else wants that painting?

Sometimes, being very careful is not enough.

The Heat at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Devil is a Black Dog: stories from the Middle East and beyond

The Devil is a Black Dog: stories from the Middle East and beyond

Sandor Jaszberenyi

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Although categorised as Biography, the short stories presented here are crafted in the way of fiction - dark, sober tales that capture with brutal candidness the difficulties, oddities and horrors surrounding lives in war torn regions of the Middle East and Africa and the itinerant life of the foreign correspondent. Written by a Hungarian war correspondent, this is not straight reportage but rather they are the stories behind the sad headlines we read. Highly recommended for non-fiction and fiction readers seeking a broader perspective. Craig Kirchner

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 'I don't regret anything, really. I never wanted to live a sensible life ...I didn't want a sensible death either.'

War-torn Africa, a Middle East in crisis, and post-Soviet Eastern Europe form the backdrop to the stories told in The Devil Is a Black Dog - stories based on the extraordinary experiences of acclaimed photojournalist Sandor Jaszberenyi.

From Cairo to the Gaza Strip, from  Benghazi to Budapest, his characters contemplate the meaning of home, love, family, and friendship in the face of brutality. Immersed in the societies he reports on and heedless in the face of war and revolution, Jaszberenyi observes mothers, martyrs, soldiers, and lovers who must confront the extremes of contemporary experience.

In spare, evocative prose, he combines fact and fiction to create a profoundly true portrait of the humanity behind the headlines.

The Devil is a Black Dog: Stories from the Middle East and Beyond by Sandor Jaszberenyi at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Purity

Purity

Jonathan Franzen

$32.99
ABBEY'S CHOICE SEPTEMBER 2015 ----- A huge and fascinating read with a cast of characters that you really care about. Very contemporary with a ‘wikileaks’ type organisation. Drama and humour and a strong story make it a compelling read. Peter Smith

Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother - her only family - is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she'll ever have a normal life. 

Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with the Sunlight Project, an organiSation that traffics in all the secrets of the world - including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong. 

Jonathan Franzen's Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder.  The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters - Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers - and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.
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Wendy Whiteley And The Secret Garden

Wendy Whiteley And The Secret Garden

Janet Hawley

$79.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This wonderful coffee-table book is a really striking production that is part-memoir, part-gardening and part-history, covering Wendy's early life, her time with Brett and daughter Arkie, whilst also looking at early Lavender Bay and the neglected land bordering the bay that Wendy and a team of enthusiasts have transformed into a garden for all. Craig Kirchner

This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself. For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. 

Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model. An artist herself, with a finely honed aesthetic sense, she also created the interiors at the heart of Brett's iconic paintings of their Lavender Bay home. When Brett died, followed by the death nine years later of their daughter Arkie, Wendy threw her grief and creativity into making an enchanting hidden oasis out of derelict land owned by the New South Wales Government.

This glorious guerrilla garden is Wendy's living artwork, designed with daubs of colour, sinuous shapes and shafts of light. This is Wendy's story but it's also the story of the countless people who cherish the Secret Garden.

'I've loved making this garden. It's been a great gift to my life. It let me find myself again, and it's my gift to share with the public.' Wendy Whiteley

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Barracuda

Barracuda

Christos Tsiolkas

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This was an eagerly-awaited feat from Tsiolkas, and what a feat it is! Danny wants to be an Olympian. And he can be - he would have been - if only Danny wasn’t… well… Danny. But ‘if only’ is not the central question raised here. Can one man be redeemed by another’s downfall? Is our fate entirely our own? Set in Melbourne and written in classic Tsiolkas prose - which can unite or divide its readers - this novel, like The Slap, is sure to get Australia talking. Meg

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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...

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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A Murder Unmentioned: Rowland Sinclair #6

A Murder Unmentioned: Rowland Sinclair #6

Sulari Gentill

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Having returned to Australia following close scrapes in a Europe rife with fascism, the questioning quartet of Rowland Sinclair and his friends, Edna Higgins, 'Milton' Elias Isaacs and Clyde Watson look forward to spending Christmas safely cloistered in the well-heeled Sydney enclave of Woolahra.

Those plans go awry with news of a murder - the murder of Henry Sinclair, Rowland Sinclair's father. Stranger still, the murder was thirteen years ago.

With this revelation in the sixth novel in this warm series, Sulari Gentill takes us into the darkest corners of the pastoral nobility that is the Sinclair family. The characters of Rowland Sinclair and his brother Wil emerge even more strongly defined as the tensions and drama unfold. Another corker! Craig Kirchner

------

The black sheep of a wealthy grazier dynasty, gentleman artist Rowland Sinclair often takes matters into his own hands. When the matter is murder, there are consequences.

For thirteen years, Rowland has tried to forget, but now the past has returned. A newly-discovered gun casts light on a family secret long kept... a murder the Sinclairs would prefer stayed unsolved.

As old wounds tear open, the dogged loyalty of Rowland's inappropriate companions is all that stands between him and the consequences of a brutal murder... one he simply failed to mention.

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Forever Young

Forever Young

Steven Carroll

$29.99  $10.00
ABBEY'S CHOICE JUNE 2015 ----- I was especially pleased to read Forever Young, the fifth book in the Glenroy series. Carroll aims to reveal the passionate hearts beneath the surface of suburban calm. His writing style for these stories is unusual and addictive, with constant repetition and soothing rhythm. The Glenroy series is The Art of the Engine DriverThe Gift of SpeedThe Time we have TakenSpirit of Progress and now Forever Young. These elegantly written books will be a pleasure for you to discover. I am a great fan. Eve Abbey
 
In his celebrated Glenroy novels, Steven Carroll lulls you into a literary trance with his gentle tales of a family in Melbourne told in rhythmic, hypnotic prose. Craig Kirchner
 
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'And is nostalgia not so much a longing for a place or a time, as a longing for youth itself?'

Forever Young is set against the tumultuous period of change and uncertainty that was Australia in 1977. Whitlam is about to lose the federal election, and things will never be the same again. The times they are a'changing. 

Radicals have become conservatives, idealism is giving way to realism, relationships are falling apart, and Michael is finally coming to accept that he will never be a rock and roll musician.

A subtle and graceful exploration of the passage of time and our yearning for the seeming simplicities of the past, Forever Young is a powerfully moving work - clear. beautiful, affecting - by one of our greatest authors.
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The Truth and Other Lies

The Truth and Other Lies

Sascha Arango ,  Imogen Taylor (Trans.)

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sascha Arango has had great fun with this tale of a famous author with secrets and a wandering (well,... absent) moral centre.

The wicked chain of events are told in an impressively precise manner (and bravo to the translator) - every sentence a stronghold. For anyone who enjoys a darkly humorous tone in the vein of Fargo, with a dash of Crime and Punishment, this is a superb entertainment.

Craig Kirchner

p.s. my imagination had (a younger) Michael Gambon playing the role of the author Henry Hayden - a wonderful performance combining the congenial and the conniving. Not surprisingly the film rights have already been nabbed - I await with interest to see who gets to inhabit devious Henry.

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WINNER Prix Européen du Polar du Point, France, 2015
A dark, clever and hugely entertaining thriller introducing sociopath Henry Hayden, for fans of Tom Ripley and Herman Koch's The Dinner.

Famous author, loving husband, generous friend—Henry Hayden is a pleasant person to have around. Or so it seems. And when his mistress, who is also his editor, becomes pregnant, his carefully constructed life threatens to fall apart.

So Henry works out an ingenious plan. Craftily and cold-bloodedly, he intertwines lies and truths and all the shades of grey in-between.

But when he tries to get rid of his mistress, Henry makes a terrible mistake. Not only are the police soon after him, but his past, which he has painstakingly kept under the carpet, also threatens to catch up with him with deadly consequences.

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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PRETTY BABY

PRETTY BABY

Mary Kubica

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Engaging and haunting, Pretty Baby will you keep guessing until the very end. With well-developed, memorable characters and a tightly woven plot, you won’t be disappointed by this excellent read.

Heidi sees a young girl waiting for a train. Drenched and dishevelled, with a suitcase at her feet, the girl holds on tightly to the baby in her arms. As she boards her train, Heidi begins to wonder about the girl, what her life is like, and why she is waiting at the station in the rain. The next day the young girl is there again and Heidi’s curiosity is piqued even more. She feels compelled to assist the girl, but just how far will she go to help a stranger?

I devoured this book, just as I did with Kubica’s first book The Good Girl – I couldn’t read it fast enough! With every plot twist and page turn, any ideas I had about the ending were constantly proved wrong. I loved the multiple character narration Kubica uses to slowly and tauntingly reveal the story, which comes together beautifully in the end. Her characters are ones I would love to keep reading about. Another enthralling psychological thriller from an exceptional new crime writer! Jessica Slade

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Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal - or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home. Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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THE GOOD GIRL

THE GOOD GIRL

Mary Kubica

$14.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I could not put this book down! Hooked from the beginning, it kept me guessing – all my theories about what was going to happen were completely wrong. Well written, with realistic characters I wanted to get to know, this book has an ending you won’t see coming. I was most definitely impressed by this debut novel. Jessica

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'I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will. '

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. When he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. 

Mia soon finds herself at the centre of a wild extortion plot. Colin's job was to abduct Mia and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. 

Mia's mother, Eve, and Detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. 

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems...
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Insurrection

Insurrection

Bruce Honeywill

$25.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Who is Brewster? First name unknown (to the reader at least) Brewster appears before us a dishevelled wreck, a man who has lost his way following the death of his wife to illness. He is thrown a lifeline by a colleague and so begins his journey back to normality.

But the legal investigator's first engagement is a tinder box and the thriller unfolds as forces marshal that a fragile Brewster struggles to handle.

Honeywill's Brewster is an interesting character - he loves a laksa and through his somewhat-jaded senses we see, smell and hear Darwin and surrounds and take in the texture of the indigenous culture. I see strong casting contenders for a screen adaptation in Brendan Cowell, Hugo Weaving, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Roxburgh - all of whom wear 'hangover' convincingly as their default demeanour.

Another interesting character is former military officer Sam Hurtle (casting: Bruce Carter?) who, returning from tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, finds himself a fish-out-of-water in his own home town until a community leader proffers a way in which his specific leadership and combat skills can help their cause.

The dialogue is as spare and dry as Darwin is humid and Honeywill's thriller deftly weaves the storyline strands, action and character development such that you will urgently be wanting the next book in the series.

Craig Kirchner

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A powerful and universal story of the tragedy when traditional cultures meet the might of the mining industry.

In the remote north of Australia's 'outback' an indigenous community feel powerless to stop the destruction of a sacred site by a mining giant. As a legal investigator Brewster has been defending the poor and marginalised for years and when he realises that the mine has been approved through a corrupt process, he challenges the legality in court.

But the return to the community of an SAS soldier sees the people take the law into their own hands, forming an armed militia and taking over the mine. In doing so, they bring about the full might of Australia's anti-terrorist strike forces. Brewster is the meat in the sandwich, standing between anti-terrorist forces and a mine under siege. Can he stop the bloodshed?

Bruce Honeywill's explosive thriller tells of making a stand for truth against national anti-terrorism forces and corrupt mining practices.

Insurrection by Bruce Honeywill at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Rendez-Vous with Art

Rendez-Vous with Art

Philippe De Montebello (Director, Metropolitan Museum of Art) ,  Martin Gayford

$39.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Martin Gayford, author of the fascinating portrait of Lucien Freud 'Man with Blue Scarf' has returned with the exquisite new book 'Rendezvous with Art'.

Accompanied by the former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello, the duo travel the world exploring museums, churches and galleries with the simple goal of 'looking at art'. The excitement, passion and knowledge with which de Montebello discusses certain artworks is nothing short of breathtaking and is proof of his distinguished reputation as the Mel's most loyal director.

A charming read for art lovers! Siân McNabney

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This book is about how we experience art, how we look at it, how we think about it. It is structured in the form of a series of conversations in some of the best-known museums in the world, but also outside the museums, where we often look upon art in a completely different way.

The two protagonists are Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for 31 years to 2008, and the art critic Martin Gayford. In the process, both men convey, with subtlety and brilliance, the delights and significance of their subject matter.
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Socrates: A Man for Our Times

Socrates: A Man for Our Times

Paul Johnson

$26.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Paul Johnson brings this remarkable man to life with his extraordinary ability to humanise.What could simply be a discussion of a pivotal figure in history becomes a portrait of a man who we could easily meet on the street today. A man whose voice Johnson so adequately recalls for us.

This is a wonderful book and a perfect starting point for anyone interested in this timeless thinker. Sian McNabney

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This brilliant biography of Socrates by historian Paul Johnson situates the father of philosophy in the fifth century BC Athens that he loved, delving into the geopolitics of the time, his service as a soldier, his wide range of acquaintances and the civic unrest that led to Socrates' trial and death.

This is a fresh and fascinating portrait of the thinker who believed questioning and education were the keys to a virtuous life, proving that Socrates' beliefs and philosophy are as relevant today as in ancient Athens.
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The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, friendship and other circus acts

The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, friendship and other circus acts

David Carlin

$29.99  $4.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sosina Wogayehu is really something. She has 'chutzpah' or 'spunk' or whatever you call it when you get busy when the odds are stacked against you. It is part of the reason she approached her friend (and author) David Carlin to write her story. Sosina is originally from Ethiopia and she met David (originally from Perth) when they both worked at Circus Oz, he in management and she under the bright lights. But this is way down the track. David begins with the 8-year-old selling cigarettes one by one on the streets of Addis Ababa.

What is different is that David's journey into the life of his Ethiopian friend is part of the story too, and the way it is told gives the book the feeling of being a novel - a wonderful tale full of happenings and characters that give us insights into larger themes around our cultures. Comedy and tragedy are all contained within these pages.

David's frankness and Sosina's front-foot approach to life make for a rich story of cross-cultural bonding. This was a joyous, heartwarming story to read.

Craig Kirchner

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Sosina Wogayehu learnt to do flips and splits at the age of six, sitting on the floor of her parents' lounge room in Addis Ababa, watching a German variety show on the only television channel in the land. She sold cigarettes on the streets at the age of eight, and played table soccer with her friends who made money from washing cars, barefoot in the dust. She dreamed of being a circus performer. 

Twenty-five years later, Sosina has conjured herself a new life in a far-off country: Australia. She has rescued one brother and lost another. She has travelled the world as a professional contortionist. She can bounce-juggle eight balls on a block of marble.  

Sosina is able to juggle worlds and stories, too, and by luck - which is something Sosina is not short of - she has a friend, David Carlin, who is a writer. Following his acclaimed memoir Our Father Who Wasn't There, David brings us his 'not-me' book, travelling to Addis Ababa where he discovers ways of living so different to his own and confronts his Western fantasies and fears.
  
Through Sosina's story he shows us that, with risk and enough momentum, life - whom we befriend, where we end up, how we come to see ourselves - is never predictable.

The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, Friendship and Other Circus Acts by David Carlin at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Philosopher's Dog

The Philosopher's Dog

Raimond Gaita

$25.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It is rare to find a book that approaches the subject of animals with both intelligence and tenderness in equal measure. Here is such a book and what a beautiful book it is! Sian McNabney

How do animals think and feel? Is it mistaken to attribute to them the concepts of love, devotion, grief; even dignity? How can we understand our conception of such things, and what do our relations with animals say about our own humanity?

In this much-loved book, Raimond Gaita investigates such questions through stories of animals he has known and loved, and through the reflections of others. The Philospher’s Dog is moving, sometimes funny and always thought provoking.

Shortlisted, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted, Age Book of the Year
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The Shore

The Shore

Sara Taylor

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I’m not always a fan of short stories however I found this collection just stunning. Set on a cluster or small islands off the coast of Virginia, these subtly interconnected stories share 2 family histories. Beautifully written, riveting, powerful, and at times dark, these stories span centuries connecting generations of women and their experiences to family history and place in a most unique way. An incredible debut novel not to be overlooked. Jessica Slade

The Shore. A collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean that has been home to generations of fierce and resilient women. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it's a place they've inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a brave girl's determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, to a lesson in summoning storm clouds to help end a drought, these women struggle against domestic violence, savage wilderness, and the corrosive effects of poverty and addiction to secure a sense of well-being for themselves and for those they love. Their interconnecting stories form a deeply affecting legacy of two island families, illuminating the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all. 

Dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a richly unique, breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished debut novel by a young writer of astonishing gifts.
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Letters To Poseidon

Letters To Poseidon

Cees Nooteboom ,  Laura Watkinson

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I was instantly charmed by this book! From the moment that Mr Nooteboom decides to write letters to the mighty sea god, whilst toasting the first day of spring with champagne, I was smitten. The alternating childlike fascination and poignancy with which he writes of carrying subject makes for truly beautiful reading. Sian McNabney

'I had been looking for someone to write to for a long time, but how does a man write letters to a god?' From his Mediterranean garden on the island of Menorca, Cees Nooteboom writes to the trident-wielding deity, Poseidon, 'initiating a dialogue not only with the past,' as Alberto Manguel observes in his Preface, 'but with an entire world that seemed lost for ever.' Offering a seductive interweaving of keen observation and the fruits of a vast knowledge, Nooteboom explores questions of human existence through the minutiae of the living world around him, and marvels at the secrets of the deep. He recalls figures in history, places he has travelled to, objets trouves, works of art and literature, and takes a fresh look at the ancient myths. At once playful and poignant, beautiful and bizarre, Nooteboom's Letters to Poseidon are couched in the glittering prose of one of Europe's outstanding stylists.
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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

Christopher Clark (St Catherine'S College, University of Cambridge)

$27.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Clark's book is in-depth yet very approachable, getting into the personalities and geo-political positions that lay behind the decisions that were made, such as England's decision to enter the war. Each nation had its hawks and doves and the threads of events need to be carefully unpicked.

As you make your way through the book, each reader will weight the actions and attitudes of the key players differently. I came away with the observations that Russia's provocative mobilisation was perhaps the single most important flashpoint. Taken as being a declaration of war, it was a point of no return, provoking a matching response from Germany. The other observation that comes out strongly is the absolute disaster of issuing ultimatums when it comes to diplomatic relations, of which both Austria and Germany were prone to do.

A captivating and thorough background to the monumental tragedy of this war for anyone really wanting to understand how sane people could take the actions they did, and essential reading for anyone with an eye on current geo-political developments. Craig Kirchner

 
The pacy, sensitive and formidably argued history of the causes of the First World War, from acclaimed historian and author Christopher Clark. The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era.

An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilisation. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination?

In The Sleepwalkers Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Above all, it shows how the failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans would drag Europe into catastrophe.
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Unreliable Memoirs

Unreliable Memoirs

Clive James ,  P. J. O'Rourke

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- One of the funniest series of books I have ever come across! I have embarrassed myself many times on public transport laughing along with the truly talented Clive James. Sian

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With an introduction by P. J. O'Rourke

"I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me."

So begins the first instalment of Clive James's memoirs in which we follow the young Clive on his journey from boyhood to the cusp of manhood, when his days of wearing short trousers are finally behind him. Battling with school, girls, various relatives and an overwhelming desire to be a superhero, Clive's adventures growing up in the suburbs of post-war Sydney are hair-raising, uproarious and almost too good to be true...

Told with James's unassailable sense of humour and self-effacing charm, Unreliable Memoirs is a hilarious and touching introduction to the story of a national treasure. A million-copy bestseller, this classic memoir is a celebration of life in all its unpredictable glory.
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Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo

Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo

Hayden Herrera

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Herrera's vivid and thoroughly well researched bio brings to life this fantastic artist. A truly courageous woman! Sian

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This beautifully-illustrated and engrossing biography of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality and an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences. Born and brought up near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution, she suffered a devastating accident aged eighteen, which left her crippled and unable to bear children. Her marriage to the muralist Diego Riviera was tempestuous, and she had many love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky. Absorbed in Mexican folklore and culture and a lover of dramatic spectacle, Kahlo's tumultuous life is that of an extraordinary twentieth-century woman.
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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys ,  Andrea Ashworth ,  Angela Smith

$19.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is a fascinating take on the "mad-woman-in-the-attic" character from the much-loved Bronte classic, Jane Eyre. Rhys uses memory, culture and loss to portray a very different and tragic Mr Rochester. Sian

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Her grand attempt to tell what she felt was the story of  Jane Eyre's  'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester, Jean Rhys'  Wide Sargasso Sea  is edited with an introduction and notes by Angela Smith in  Penguin Classics . Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys' brief, beautiful masterpiece. Jean Rhys (1894-1979) was born in Dominica. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before moving to Paris, where she began writing and was 'discovered' by Ford Madox Ford. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their time and only modestly successful.  From 1939 (when  Good Morning, Midnight  was written) onwards she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with her account of Jane Eyre's Bertha Rochester,  Wide Sargasso Sea , in 1966. If you enjoyed  Wide Sargasso Sea , you might like Charlotte Bronte's  Jane Eyre , also available in  Penguin Classics .  She took one of the works of genius of the nineteenth century and turned it inside-out to create one of the works of genius of the twentieth century . (Michele Roberts,  The Times ).
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Letter to D: A Love Story

Letter to D: A Love Story

Andre Gorz ,  Julie Rose

$10.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Letter to D is a beautiful love letter written by a man to his dying wife. This is one of the most intimate and tender books that I have ever read. Very unique. Sian

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'You're 82 years old. You've shrunk six centimetres, you only weigh 45 kilos yet you're still beautiful, graceful and desirable' - so begins Andre Gorz's 'open love letter' to the woman he has lived with for 58 years and who lies dying next to him.  As one of France's leading post-war philosophers, Andre Gorz wrote many influential books, but nothing he wrote will be read as widely or remembered as long as this simple, passionate, beautiful letter to his dying wife. In a bittersweet postscript a year after Letter to D was published, a note pinned to the door for the cleaning lady marked the final chapter in an extraordinary love story. Andre Gorz and his terminally ill wife, Dorine, were found lying peacefully side by side, having taken their lives together. They simply could not live without one another.  An international bestseller, Letter to D is the ultimate love story - and all the more poignant because it's true.
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Man With a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud

Man With a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud

Martin Gayford

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This beautifully illustrated biography provides not only an intimate portrait of one of England's finest painters, Lucien Freud, but an overview of the portraiture genre itself. Sian

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Lucian Freud, perhaps the worlds leading portrait painter, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. Gayford describes the process chronologically, from the day he arrived for the first sitting through to his meeting with the couple who bought the finished painting. As Freud creates a portrait of Gayford, so the art critic produces his own portrait of the notoriously private artist, recounting their wide-ranging conversations and giving a rare insight into Freuds working practice. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs by David Dawson of Freud at work, with paintings by Freud from the 1940s to the present, and images by other artists discussed by Freud with Gayford. The result vividly conveys what it is like to be on the inside of the process of creating a painting by a great artist.
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Shame and the Captives

Shame and the Captives

Tom Keneally

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- During the second world war, in the fictional mid-west town of Gawell, Alice and her father-in-law run the farm while Alice's husband is confined to a prison camp in Europe.  Nearby is an army base and a detention camp for captured Italian and Japanese prisoners-of-war.  This camp is run in a benevolent way by its commanding officer, an Englishman with a difficult marriage and an uneasy relationship with his second in command. 
 
The Italians are sent out to work on farms in the area but the Japanese are not amenable to this practice for their shame at being captured prevents them from co-operating in any way with their guards, whom they despise.  Despite being completely perplexed by the their behaviour and values, their British and Australian captors treat them well, sticking strictly to the Geneva Convention, hoping that by doing so their soldier sons,  in turn prisoners of the Japanese in Asia, will benefit.  
 
Tom Keneally's new book explores the seemingly intractable cultural differences that exist between the two races, differences that will lead to the horrors of the 'breakout'.  Told from both the Australian and Japanese viewpoint this is an unsettling and, towards the end, harrowing read.  It is also a fascinating look at small town country life during the war and at the people there.  Isolation, loneliness, fear of the unknown and the unknowable all combine to erupt the terrible events of August 1944 that really occurred in Cowra, New South Wales. ~ David Hall
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Pacific 360: Australia's Battle for Survival in World War II

Pacific 360: Australia's Battle for Survival in World War II

Roland Perry

$50.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It's hard for those of us who weren't there to imagine what it was like in Australia in early 1942. After Pearl Harbour, the fall of Singapore and the attacks on Darwin, Australia was virtually defends Pacific war, from Prime Minister Curtin and his dealings with Churchill and Roosevelt to the diggers who stopped, then pushed back, the Japanese army. Dave

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On 7 December 1941, Australia was pushed to centre stage as Japan entered World War II and began the offensive which triggered the Pacific War.  Roland Perry captures the drama and detail of the Australian Government's political and military struggle with allies and enemies alike as those at home prepared for a fight to the death, while in the Pacifc theatre Australia's armed forces fought for the nation's very existence.  This chronological dual narrative follows the story of Australia's Pacific War on the front lines and at home, and how such a critical moment in history has affected and shaped Australia's political and social culture.
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The Origin of Species (includes The Voyage of the Beagle)

The Origin of Species (includes The Voyage of the Beagle)

Charles Darwin ,  Ruth Padel

$14.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Great scientists don’t necessarily make great writers, but with these books Darwin showed he was indeed both. The Voyage is part travelogue, part natural history, describing his adventures and observations during the five year voyage of the Beagle. Originally written as part of the official history of the voyage, it was so well written that it was published as a separate book. The Origin is one of the more accessible 'great books of science' and a brilliant example of how to give people a multitude of reasons for accepting your argument. Either of these books would be a bargain for this price, but getting both for that is a steal! Dave

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This title is presented with an introduction by Darwin's great-great-granddaughter, Ruth Padel. When the eminent naturalist Charles Darwin returned from South America on board the H.M.S Beagle in 1836, he brought with him the notes and evidence which would form the basis of his landmark theory of evolution of species by a process of natural selection. This theory, published as  The Origin of Species  in 1859, is the basis of modern biology and the concept of biodiversity. It also sparked a fierce scientific, religious and philosophical debate which still continues today.
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THE RETURNED

THE RETURNED

Jason Mott

$19.99
Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time ... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep-flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
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Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted

Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted

Andrew Wilson

$19.99
ABBEY'S CHOICE FEBRUARY 2013 ----- A much needed and fascinating account of where Sylvia began. 'Life before Ted' for Sylvia was every bit as important as life after, and in some cases  more human, more identifiable and simply more Sylvia.  A 'must' for anyone interested in where the genius of Sylvia began and why. Meg

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On 25 February 1956, twenty-three-year-old Sylvia Plath walked into a party and immediately spotted Ted Hughes. The sensational aspects of the Plath-Hughes relationship have dominated the cultural landscape to such an extent that their story has taken on the resonance of a modern myth.

Before she met Ted, Plath had lived a complex, creative and disturbing life. Her father had died when she was only eight, she had gone out with literally hundreds of men, had been unofficially engaged, had tried to commit suicide and had written over 200 poems. Mad Girl's Love Song traces through these early years the sources of her mental instabilities and examines how a range of personal, economic and societal factors - the real disquieting muses - conspired against her.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with friends and lovers who have never spoken openly about Plath before and using previously unavailable archives and papers, this is the first book to focus on the early life of the twentieth century's most popular and enduring female poet.

Mad Girl's Love Song reclaims Sylvia Plath from the tangle of emotions associated with her relationship with Ted Hughes and reveals the origins of her unsettled and unsettling voice, a voice that, fifty years after her death, still has the power to haunt and disturb.
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Eyrie

Eyrie

Tim Winton

$45.00
ABBEY'S CHOICE OCTOBER 2013 ----- Tom Keely is a broken man. Failed marriage and career, he is searching for redemption. When a woman from his past resurfaces with her enigmatic grandson, Keely finds both his past and present colliding with explosive consequences. Winton’s new book has divided opinion in the shop, but from my perspective I found this an incredibly disturbing and powerful read. The author demands the reader's participation, hence there are definitely loose ends in the story. For me this adds to the book's power and I found myself unable to put it down. Highly recommended. ~ Greg

As Greg says, the novel has drawn strong responses - surely a sign of great art. Click the REVIEWS tab for Meg and Lindy's reviews. 

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Tom Keely's reputation is in ruins. And that's the upside.

Divorced and unemployed, he's lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he's retired hurt and angry. He's done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.

But even in his seedy flat, ducking the neighbours, he's not safe from entanglement. All it takes is an awkward encounter in the lobby. A woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he's never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.

What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.

Eyrie Tim Winton at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Cartwheel

Cartwheel

Jennifer duBois

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for a semester abroad, idealistic, full of energy and looking for the experience of a lifetime. Then her ‘boring’ roommate is found dead and Lily is charged with murder. This novel captures humanity in all forms. From the lawyer with Lily’s future in his hands to the family that Lily has left altered forever to Lily herself. Inspired by, but not based upon, the 2009 Amanda Knox case in Perugia, Italy, this novel will satisfy both crime lovers and literary fiction lovers alike. Meg
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Ancient Light

Ancient Light

John Banville

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- John Banville wooed me with The Sea. Ancient Light cemented him as one of my literary loves. This extraordinary novel is ultimately a story of self discovery and love. A teenage boy falls in love with his best friend's mother, an affair ensues. Years later he is compelled to recall this strange affair with honesty and affection. A work of such gravity soaked in reality I have never encountered. A thousand stars! Meg

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'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.' Alexander Cleave, an actor who thinks his best days are behind him, remembers his first unlikely affair as a teenage boy in a small town in 1950s Ireland: the illicit meetings in a rundown cottage outside town; assignations in the back of his lover's car on sunny mornings, rain-soaked afternoons. And with these early memories comes something sharper and much darker - the more recent recollection of the actor's own daughter's suicide ten years before. This is the story of a life rendered brilliantly vivid: the obsession and selfishness of young love and the terrifying shock of grief. It is a dazzling novel, funny, utterly pleasurable and devastatingly moving in the same moment.
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Summer Lies

Summer Lies

Bernhard Schlink

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is a collection of stories that are essentially about love. Old love, new love, scared love, uncertain love. Schlink explores beautifully the human condition and succeeds in laying bare all those thoughts and emotions that come with all types of love and relationships, whether they be unconditional or unrequited. For every Schlink fan and those soon to become fans. Meg

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ABBEY'S CHOICE OCTOBER 2012 From Bernhard Schlink, the internationally best-selling author of The Reader, come seven provocative and masterfully calibrated stories. A keen dissection of the ways in which we play with truth and less-than-truth in our lives. Summer Lies brims with the delusions, the passions, the outbursts, and the sometimes irrational justifications people make within a mélange of beautifully rendered relationships. In ”After the Season,” a man falls quickly in love with a woman he meets on the beach but wrestles with his incongruous feelings of betrayal after he learns she’s rich. In “Johann Sebastian Bach on Ruegen,” a son tries to put his resentment toward his emotionally distant father behind him by proposing a trip to a Back festival but soon realizes, during his efforts to reconnect, that it wasn’t his father who was the distant one. A philandering playwright is accused of infidelity by his wife in “The Night in Baden-Baden,” but he sees her accusations as nothing more than a means to exculpate himself of his guilt as he carries on with his ways. And in “Stranger in the Night,” an obliging professor becomes an accomplice—not entirely unwittingly—to the temporary escape of a charismatic fugitive on a delayed flight from New York to Frankfurt.
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Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Annotated Edition

Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Annotated Edition

George Orwell

$27.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I have only just caught up with the rest of the world with my recent reading of 1984. I loved every page! I shouldn't have waited this long. If you haven't read it yet or know someone who hasn't read it - do it, then make them do it. Love, love, love! Finally understand all the fuss! Meg

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This is the essential edition of the essential book of modern times, 1984 , now annotated for students with an introduction by D. J. Taylor. Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.
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Tales from the Political Trenches

Tales from the Political Trenches

Maxine McKew

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Maxine McKew's brilliant career as a journalist who was not afraid to ask the hard questions provides a perfect background a perfect background for her recent expose on the turbulence of the Labor Party in recent years. Starting with (but not exclusive to) her overthrow of John Howard for the seat of Bennelong in 2007 and throwing us onto the rollercoaster of the last five years. Maxine writes with passion, astute observation, humility and above all a sense of wonder of how it went wrong for the Labor Party. Meg

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'Julia Gillard was impatient for the prime ministership, and either worked with or allowed others to manufacture a sense of crisis around Rudd's leadership. She then cut down a prime minister in his first term and tried to pretend it was in the national interest to do so. Since then, she has been the architect of her own misfortune.' In Tales from the Political Trenches Maxine McKew counters the view that Julia Gillard was a reluctant deputy who was forced to move against a chaotic and dysfunctional Kevin Rudd - and offers a different version of events. Her story is an intimate account of one of the most tumultuous periods in Australian politics, as well as a tale of personal change. She brings a reporter's eye and an insider's knowledge to a story that has caused despair among Labor supporters and produced disillusionment among the electorate. After winning a spectacular victory against Prime Minister John Howard in 2007, McKew was one of the many casualties of the disastrous 2010 election campaign, when Labor was left clinging to the wreckage and forced into minority government.  Still dealing with her own disappointments in a political career cut short by the machinations of her own party, and with more questions than answers, McKew has spent the past year talking to her colleagues in an effort to understand what went wrong. Tales from the Political Trenches is a must-read for those who have followed the events of the past few years and are still asking, 'What the hell happened?'
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami ,  Jay Rubin

$14.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Murakami writes with such conviction that you are instantly immersed in the characters' lives, their struggles and confusion. Suburban reality is quickly turned into what most might regard as nightmare or suspended eroticism. If you haven't read any Murakami yet you should start with this novel. Murakami's imagination dances with you upon the pages and you will be left breathless with anticipation. A beautiful love story combined with suspense and ambition. Brilliant from the first word to the last. Meg

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Toru Okada's cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell. A reading guide is included.
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Bossypants

Bossypants

Tina Fey

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Tina Fey is one of those women you would love to hate - but can't! Funny, smart, sexy, successful and respected for all of the above. A beautifully crafted work of hilarity and information, Ms Fey will not disappoint - her bio's not bad too... Meg

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Before Liz Lemon, before Weekend Update, before Sarah Palin, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy. ( Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!).
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A Fraction Of The Whole

A Fraction Of The Whole

Steve Toltz

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- A grand, brave and surprising novel. Combining typically Australian 'laugh out loud' humour (without being cliche'd), rollicking adventure and tenderness. This heartwarming tale is for anyone who has a father who requires being parented and who you roll your eyes at, at least twice a day. Meg

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The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them.  Heroes or criminals? Crackpots or visionaries? Relatives or enemies? It's a simple family story.. From the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to strip clubs, from the jungles of Thailand to a leaky boat in the Pacific, A Fraction of the Whole follows the Deans on their freewheeling, scathingly funny and finally deepy moving quest to leave their mark on the world.
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In The Winter Dark

In The Winter Dark

Tim Winton

$24.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Winton displays a rare aptitude for subtle horror in this novel. In my humble opinion, Winton perfectly conjures the Australian bush, with imagery you won't be able to shake for months. Winton delivers a perfect novel so real you will think you too, were privy to this unsettling time. Meg

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Night falls. In a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jaccob sees a moving shadow. Across the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the veranda of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will ever be the same again.
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Jamie's 30-Minute Meals

Jamie's 30-Minute Meals

Jamie Oliver

$49.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- As an avid Jamie fan I always delight in his latest release. Everyone is busy and for those who love cooking as much as I do but haven't got time to scratch themselves, Jamie has perfect solutions neatly, easily and deliciously laid out for you within these pages. This book is genius! Meg

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In the bestselling Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver will teach you how to make good food super fast! Jamie proves that, by mastering a few tricks and being organized and focused in the kitchen, it is absolutely possible, and easy, to get a complete meal on the table in the same amount of time you'd normally spend making one dish! The 50 brand-new meal ideas in this book are exciting, varied and seasonal. They include main course recipes with side dishes as well as puddings and drinks, and are all meals you'll be proud to serve your family and friends. Jamie has written the recipes in a way that will help you make the most of every single minute in the kitchen. This book is as practical as it is beautiful, showing that with a bit of preparation, the right equipment and some organization, hearty, delicious, quick meals are less than half an hour away. With the help of Jamie Oliver and Jamie's 30-Minute Meals , you'll be amazed by what you're able to achieve. There is only one Jamie Oliver. Great to watch. Great to cook . (Delia Smith). Jamie Oliver's career started as a chef at the River Cafe, where he was quickly spotted by the television company that made him famous as The Naked Chef. He has since published a huge range of bestselling cookery books, including The Naked Chef , The Return of the Naked Chef , Happy Days with the Naked Chef, Jamie's Kitchen , Jamie's Dinners , Jamie's Italy , Cook with Jamie , Jamie at Home, Jamie's Ministry of Food , Jamie Does , Jamie's Great Britain and Jamie's 15-Minute Meals.
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Nights At The Circus

Nights At The Circus

Angela Carter

$14.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Angela Carter's writing is always a playground of wonder and Nights at the Circus is a playground of all sorts of delights. Sophie Fevvers is the talk of the town. A woman with a pair ofwings growing out of her back usually stirs up conversation and Fevvers is no exception. Carter was unashamedly feminist and she injects this into Fevvers, who embodies the 21st century woman with elegance and pride. However it is not a novel preaching feminism, it is simply an adventure which crescendos into pure joy. A journalist (who prides himself on being a noted sceptic) takes it upon himself to investigate the phenomenon of Fevvers, and in doing so gets sucked in to a world he could never have even dreamed existed. Through events beyond his control he follows Fevvers and her entourage - some old friends, some circus members, some simply lost souls - through Petersburg and Siberia and ultimately discovers more than he set out to. Carter demands you run alongside her in this eccentric and vivid novel, there is no room for scepticism nor pre-conceived ideas. The reward? A feeling of such enchantment you will wonder whether you yourself haven't just run away to join the circus… Meg

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Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe's capitals, part swan ...or all fake? Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney's circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St Petersburg and Siberia.
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Tolerance, Prejudice and Fear: Sydney Pen Voices the 3 Writers Project

Tolerance, Prejudice and Fear: Sydney Pen Voices the 3 Writers Project

Christos Tsiolkas ,  Gideon Haigh ,  Alexis Wright ,  J. M. Coetzee

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The meanings of these three words have begun to be misused and misinterpreted more than ever. This book is essential reading for the current political period in Australia. These essays really will make you think... Meg

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In early 2007, Sydney PEN commissioned the 3 Writers Project, a series of essays and public lectures in which three of our leading and acclaimed writers - Alexis Wright, Gideon Haigh and Christos Tsiolkas - tackled topics of vital importance to contemporary Australia: tolerance, prejudice and fear. Allen + Unwin is honoured to publish the essays in one collection, with an introduction from Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee. Christos Tsiolkas questions why the notion of tolerance has replaced the language of justice, equality and rights in today's political vocabulary. He asks why the liberal left has failed to counter the rhetoric of the 'clash of civilisations'. Tsiolkas claims this is a failed logic which damns multiculturalism in favour of nationalism. He argues that in this new globalised world, we need to create a set of ethics that goes beyond tolerance. Gideon Haigh traces the phenomenon of nationalism from its enlightenment origins through its fascist excesses and examines how Australia arrived at its own sense of nationhood. What underlies our latest incarnation: a shrill, aggressive, brittle politics of narcissism, pioneered by Pauline Hanson, and pandered to by John Howard.  It also ponders how the process reduced the liberal left to mute onlookers.  Alexis Wright asserts that Australia's lack of tolerance and adoption of prejudice as patriotism has led to a fear that paralyses both Aboriginal and white Australians. She asks whether fear can rob hope, and argues passionately that we must resist personal and collective fear and trust literature to tell the truth about 'the darkness inside'. This impassioned and provocative trinity of essays is testament to the linguistic power and fierce intellect of these important Australian writers.
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Meg and Mog: Three Favourite Stories

Meg and Mog: Three Favourite Stories

Helen Nicoll

$19.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The Meg and Mog stories are children's classics. Children everywhere love the bright colours and the adventures they have. Meg

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There are surprises galore for Meg, Mog and Owl in these three classic Meg and Mog stories:  Meg's Eggs ,  Meg at Sea  and  Mog in the Fog . As ever, Meg casts her spells with the best of intentions but always with hilarious results. Children will love exploring the colours, sounds and shapes in this bumper volume, perfect for sharing or reading alone.
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Murder In Mississippi

Murder In Mississippi

John Safran

$22.99
NED KELLY AWARD WINNER 2014 TRUE CRIME

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It's probably safe to say that John Safran's approach to true crime writing is very different. His style recreates his documentary approach so vividly that I 'see' John leaning in to frame as he explains what has just occurred. Or gripping his hand-held video recorder as he does a 'selfie' to camera. The writing is engaging, with many amusing turns of phrase that paint an interesting picture of what it's like being a 'newbie' sleuth in action.

It's also a really tightly structured book, cleverly revealing more details along the way, making it compulsive to read. I found my own assessments of the key people getting tangled at times. That is a big part of this book - different versions and opinions can leave you perplexed as to what the real truth is. Is there an objective truth? How deep do you want to go? Philosophy rears its ugly head. At one point John expresses this struggle: 'In Mississippi, the more layers of the onion I peel, the more I'm standing in a mess of onion.'
 
Those who might condemn Safran for his tactics and modus operandi cannot fault his heart. He has followed his ingrained fascination with those who seek to vilify and categorise humans with a zeal that befits the most ardent white supremacist or religious zealot:

"I've been on a piece of elastic my whole life, being drawn closer and closer, to this meeting in this forest today. There is no one in the world - not one of the seven billion - who would appreciate this bizarre scene more than me."

Craig Kirchner
 
When filming his TV series, Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists, Richard Barrett. A year later, he heard that Barrett had been murdered, and what was more, the killer was black.

At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime?

Seeing his 'Truman Capote moment', he jumped on a plane from Melbourne to Mississippi to cover the trial. Over the next six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.

Murder in Mississippi is a brilliantly innovative true-crime story. Taking us places only he can, Safran paints an engrossing, revealing portrait of a dead man, his murderer, the place they lived and the process of trying to find out the truth about anything.

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Demokrasi: Indonesia In The 21St Century

Demokrasi: Indonesia In The 21St Century

Hamish McDonald

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Like many Australians, my knowledge of Indonesia was next to nil. When it did cross my mind, the picture ranged from that of a mythical tropical land of exotic and mystical delights, to a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. With the recent elections in one of the largest democracies in the world, my interest was piqued with this book by Hamish McDonald, a Walkley Award-winning journalist who has a long association with Asia.

McDonald takes us on a sweep across the history of the archipelago as the ebb and flow of colonial and military power and cronyism are revealed. The structure is well thought-out as each chapter focuses on a key facet of the society or history. The 'disguised coup' from which Major-General Suharto assumed power from Sukarno is the subject of The Crocodile Hole. The embedded nature of the military within the fabric of civil, economic and political life is covered in Beyond Dwifungsi (Dual Function). Capital takes us through the development of the economy and the strained relations with non-indigenous tycoons and nepotism. Moving through history, later chapters deal with Papua (their claim for independence from Indonesia is a sore that won't heal) and the battle against pollution and environmental plundering.

The peppering of Indonesian words throughout also provides a strong sense of the culture. We learn of 'preman' (gangster-thug-enforcers for hire) and 'cukong' (roughly meaning 'boss' but which evolved to also imply a Chinese businessman who had thrived under military patronage).

All-in-all we get a strong picture of emergence. Indonesia is on the rise but it is certainly not a straight line. Key reforms in education, welfare, anti-corruption and democracy run alongside brutal suppressions and corruption. The pattern identified by McDonald is of good intentions, policy and reforms at the top level being watered down or simply ignored by entrenched corruption and poor administration, combined with inadequate resources for enforcement.

The dust is still settling on the Presidential election and it appears that the triumph of Joko Widodo is a lucky escape for the nation, with his defeat of the Suharto-era former general Prabowo Subianto representing a further break from the military regimes of the past.

Craig Kirchner

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Indonesia, a nation of thousands of islands and almost 250 million people, straddles the junction of the Pacific and Indian oceans. The world's biggest Muslim nation has long been one of Australia's important strategic partners, and the relationship has become closer - if occasionally fraught - under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

As Indonesia undertakes its 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections, its future direction is open. It is a force in the world - but for what? Award-winning Asia-Pacific journalist Hamish McDonald's Demokrasi is an accessible and authoritative introduction to the modern history and politics of this fascinating country.

demokrasi by Hamish McDonald at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Breakfast with the Borgias

Breakfast with the Borgias

DBC Pierre

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- DBC Pierre has grabbed this tribute challenge with gusto, tapping into the sense of unease and mystery, the 'all is not as it seems' hallmark of Hammer Horror. The result is a very British parlour 'play' - a novel set out in three Acts.

The book caught my attention because of the use of very real scientific ideas to explore some long-held horror tropes. Pierre brings up quantum physics, in particular the curious phenomenon of 'entanglement' wherein two sub-atomic particles can exchange information, becoming entangled, and 'later in our time' impart that information in a manner that seemingly disregards Einstein's maxim that nothing can exceed the speed of light. To that Pierre adds Everett's 'Many Worlds' explanation of the quantum, as he takes Polish-American applied scientist, Ariel Panek, into a situation where the mathematician's models and algorithms of reality increasingly come under challenge.

"Enough of this boffin bluster!" I hear you say, "I just want a scary story." Spooky is most definitely in the air, though without rivers of Hollywood blood-lust. And relax, it's not heavy on the science.

Other elements wrapped into this tale are our relationship to, and reliance on technology for connectedness and also, like any author worth their salt, a good measure of psychological observation as to why we humans behave the way we do.

Very entertaining and best enjoyed in one sitting (or a close approximation). Craig Kirchner
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DBC Pierre plays with the notions of time and space in this chilling, page-turning Hammer novella by the Booker-Prize-winning author of Vernon God Little.

The setting: a faded, lonely guesthouse on the Essex coast. Outside, it's dark, and very foggy. Inside there's no phone or internet reception, no connection with the outside world.

Enter Ariel Panek, a promising young academic en route from the USA to an important convention in Amsterdam. With his plane grounded by fog at Stanstead, he has been booked in for the night at the guesthouse. 

Discombobulated and jetlagged, he falls in with a family who appear to be commemorating an event. But this is no ordinary celebration. And this is no ordinary family. As evening becomes night, Panek realises that he has become caught in an insidious web of other people's secrets and lies, a Sartrian hell from which for him there may be no escape.

Breakfast with the Borgias by DBC Pierre at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Killing Adonis

Killing Adonis

J M Donellan

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- With a whole lot of mystery and some grisly business, this quirky, brisk and very enjoyable novel also riffs on a lot of modern life along the way. At one point the mood even verges on horror. Yet all of these mysterious happenings are carried along over a comic undertone.

This comic aspect comes through with the characters being drawn large and in high relief and the rapid-fire, pithy banter which sets the pace. Donellan's style is very self-aware and knowing, mugging to the camera and sashaying confidently towards the reader.

The mystery even taunted me from the cover. What was that ill-defined black image on the cover? And why is this very modern story styled in this rustic 'olde worlde' faux-leatherbound look? (beautifully done by the way) All is revealed...

More importantly, it was a book I found myself ravenously seeking out in any free moment, eager to chase the mystery. It's been some time since I've felt the addiction of such a 'page-turner'. Craig Kirchner

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LIGHT DUTIES
LARGE PAY
NO QUESTIONS ASKED
...OR ANSWERED

Freya is a fiesty, flame-headed nurse who has finished her studies and who has had a Florence Nightingale influenced dream from childhood of heading to East Timor to continue her work. But for now, she needs a break - a 'cakewalk' job.

After seeing a curious flyer, Freya takes a job caring for Elijah, the comatose adult son of the eccentric Vincetti family, billionaire owners of the Halcyon Corporation. She very quickly discovers that the labyrinthine Vincetti mansion hides a wealth of secrets, their corporate rivals have a nasty habit of being extravagantly executed, and Elijah is not the saint they portray him to be. And there’s something very strange about the story that Elijah’s brother Jack is writing …

A tragicomic tale about love, delusion and corporate greed.

Killing Adonis by J M Donellan at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Autobiography

Autobiography

Morrissey

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- For any Morrissey fan, this is a joy to read for the language alone. Steven Patrick Morrissey does most definitely enjoy and employ a poetic turn of phrase and indulge his passion for alliterative word play. The effect is such that you could just about take any passage from the book and, in your best Moz impersonation, sing it aloud (yes, of course I did this). More importantly it was a page turner which, for a big book with small print and no chapters(!), is a good thing.

My fandom is always focused on the art alone which in Morrissey's case is his unique vocal delivery so perfectly matched to his extraordinary lyrics. That meant I really knew nothing of Morrissey apart from the fact he came from Manchester. The first part, telling of early family life, school and the streets of Manchester, read very much like a Dickens novel - full of grim menace and florid characters. Striking observations paint the mood, such as the appearance of any man at the door being taken as a sign of danger.

We move through early music influences and the emergence of his own desire to create, and throughout the book there are instances of Moz's own fanboy impulses, nearly always and not surprisingly deflating experiences.

The Smiths. Here the battle begins. Morrissey's early artistic life seems almost entirely full of incompetence - that of label executives, managers, and also his own and Johnny Marr's. Everyone bumbles along. The young artist is easy prey. The invective is ripe.

When the book arrives at the legal battle that was to destroy The Smiths, the scar is a chasm. The bile that Morrissey spews onto the judge is infectious and I feel the rage, although I'm aware that I'm only getting one side of the story. Mike Joyce's name is mud and the possibility of a Smiths reunion seems laughable in the extreme.

The book then moves on to life post-Smiths and a gradual emergence and point-scoring against a perceived perennial snubbing by England's music press, and a succession of world tour love-ins where he finally receives the accolades and adoration he craves. I had noticed, with minor annoyance, the US spelling throughout the book. Odd for an autobiography from a person from the UK published by a UK imprint, but not so odd when we appreciate the world-wide nature of his fan-base and in particular that of the US.

Is Morrissey difficult? I guess so, but that is probably the prerogative of an artist trying to pull something out of the morass of mediocrity.

Is Morrissey happy? I guess so. Laughter is not something that features in the book and it would seem, in his life generally. If it was, could he have written the lyrics he does? Morrissey writes his life in his songs. He notes a memorable exchange with a producer who asked "Do you ever get tired of singing 'I,I,I,I,I,I,I'?" to which Morrissey replies with dripping derision, "I?".

Craig Kirchner

p.s. Sitting alongside Morrissey's glorious hardback edition (full of interesting colour pics not included in the Penguin Black Classic edition) I spy a book titled Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy. On the cover, at the bottom, is a quote by Geoff Travis, who was head of The Smiths' label, Rough Trade. Of Cowboys and Indies Travis says "If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good." It makes me smile to think of Morrissey's response.

Autobiography by Morrissey at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Ask

The Ask

Sam Lipsyte

$29.99  $3.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK
This book really grew on me. The style has that very American fast-talking, leftfield-kooky-cleverness, by which I mean, no-one ever really talks like this, or perhaps they do somewhere in a niche pocket of New York. I'm just glad I'm not involved in these conversations.

So it took me a while to relax into. Gradually, some well-crafted observations gave it heart and I came to be fully on Milo's side, wanting things to work out for him. He's a nice guy just trying to keep things moving along on an even keel, grounded and real. But he's surrounded by some quirky types and battling a class-war with his rich friend from college days and his world view is being seriously challenged. Good stuff.

Craig Kirchner

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When Milo Burke, a balding, slope-bellied 'donations' officer at a minor New York university, has a disastrous run-in with a rich undergraduate, he winds up on the unemployed scrap heap. Grasping at odd jobs to support his wife and young son, he's offered one last chance: he must reel in a potential donor - a major 'Ask' - who, mysteriously, has requested his involvement.

It turns out that the 'Ask' is Milo's sinister college buddy Purdy Stuart, and the 'give' won't come cheap. Before long Milo finds himself serving as a queasy mix of factotum, bagman, client state and sounding board to Purdy, who assigns him the task of delivering hush money to his secret illegitimate son, a legless and spectacularly embittered Iraq War veteran.

Can Milo win back his job, reclaim his manhood and do justice to his marriage, or is he destined to chug down the gurgler, becoming yet another sad statistic of modern-day America?
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