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The Flower Girls surprised me. Just when I thought I knew what sort of book it was going to be I was stunned by the turn of events. There were times I found the book chilling, and it made me wriggle with discomfort, but at the same time I couldn’t look away. And the ending? I’m not sure I have the right word for it. Unsettling is probably appropriate. And I am still grappling with it.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • KIRI FALLS was introduced to the works of English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) when she saw the 2004 BBC production of North & South. Last year, the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, Kiri decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly renovated Manchester home of the great lady. Read on >
  • Read this and the ordinary world disappears,’ says Stephen King of
‘The Passage’ series. ANGUS DALTON talks with bestselling author JUSTIN CRONIN about his post-apocalyptic trilogy, the vampiric creatures he created to end humanity, and the last instalment of the series, The City of Mirrors. Read on >
  • The author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And other inspiring stories of pioneering brain transformation, busts long-held conceptions about how our minds function. Read on >
  • Ed Yong – science reporter for The Atlantic and blogger for National Geographic – has just published his first book, I Contain Multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. We asked him to tell us about his reading life.   What are you
reading now?
 Patient H.M. by 
Luke Dittrich, because 
my editor for my own 
book sent me a galley
 copy! I’m glad she
 did. Henry Molaison 
was arguably the most
influential patient in
all of neuroscience.
 After an operation to
cure his epilepsy, he lost the ability to form new memories – think Memento – and so taught us much about how our memories work. Dittrich is the grandson of the surgeon who operated on Molaison, and he brings a deeply personal flavor to the incisive reporting and colourful writing that characterise this book. What are your three favourite books?
 The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in the age of extinctions by David Quammen is natural history writing at its finest – a witty, insightful tour of the planet’s islands and what they tell us about our increasingly fragmented world. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell offers genre-hopping stories but delivers a deep fable about hope and nihilism; I stared silently out a window for the longest time when I finished 
it. Being Wrong: Adventures in the margin of error by Kathryn Schulz is a wondrous study of human error that blends literature, science and philosophy. Read on >
  • Former pop-punk rocker LEN VLAHOS tells Good Reading about his new YA novel, Life in a Fishbowl, and how Marcus Zusak inspired him to write from the perspective of a brain tumour. Read on >
  • JANINE
 BURKE is an
 Australian
art historian,
author,
biographer,
photographer and
award-winning novelist.
Her latest book, Kiffy Rubbo,
which she has co-edited with Helen Hughes, collects contributions 
from leading figures in the artistic community that all focus on the dynamic figure of Kiffy Rubbo (1944-80), a pioneering curator
in Melbourne in the 1970s. We asked Janine to tell us about this new book and the books that have shaped her life. Read on >
  • It’s often said that whatever happens in our childhoods resonates throughout the rest of our lives – for good or for ill. This was certainly the case for TIM ELLIOTT, who grew up with a father who suffered from bipolar disorder. TIM GRAHAM spoke to him about the lingering effects of a tumultuous childhood and his memoir ofpaternal madness, Farewell to the Father. Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • This book might have the word ‘tax’ in its title, but don’t let that dreary term fool you. The Great Multinational Tax Rort tells the intriguing tale of how, for decades, multinational corporations have been slithering out of their obligations to pay their fair share of tax, leaving governments with shrinking funds to pay for essential services for their citizens. In this extract, MARTIN FEIL, also the author of The Failure of Free-Market Economics, outlines some of the techniques these business behemoths use to cunningly avoid paying tax – leaving us all the poorer. Read on >
  • Most of us think of Australia as a sunny land filled with straightforward, open and candid people. But in ANNA ROMER’s version of the country, it’s a place filled with secrets and people who will do anything to keep them concealed. She talks with ALEX HENDERSON about her new book, Beyond the Orchard, Victoria’s haunted Otway Coast and the power of fear. Read on >
  • For many of the families of servicemen killed in World War I, a terse telegram from the government was never going to be enough to assuage their grief. Families wrote back in their thousands, seeking more information about the fate of their loved ones. It was the task of James M Lean to reply to these families and, as author CAROL ROSENHAIN outlines in The Man Who Carried the Nation’s Grief, he did so with extraordinary empathy and sensitivity. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This is a stunning novel. The Victorian world is alive on every page, from the treasures displayed at the Great Exhibition to the squalor and misery on dark streets. The writing is as beautiful and evocative as the art it describes. Despite The Doll Factory’s historical setting, its themes of love, obsession and the power balance between men and women remain relevant in the modern world. The characters are sympathetically drawn, even when they display the worst of human nature, and Iris is a captivating heroine. Read on >

  • I was really surprised at the direction this story took. The plot was interesting, allowing characters to show a genuine human fragility and compassion for the life circumstances in which they found themselves. While the two women were the primary focus, each reflected on the relationship they had with their former husbands, albeit created through different circumstances. A lovely Australian novel from an accomplished writer. Read on >

  • The mystery is well devised and central to this novel, and the book gives us a lovely, often witty and quite reverential homage to an Australian suburban childhood in the 1990s. You can go back in time with the turn of a charmingly written page. Read on >

  • This is a wonderfully rich thriller. Bartz drags the reader onto the meandering paths memories take as we shape and reshape our sense of loss after the death of a loved one. She leaves us to walk beside Lindsay as she digs out the truth hidden inside the walls of her own grief, hoping that we all make it to the other side in one piece. Read on >

  • The Wall allows us to recognise both the potential and the danger in what our modern world is tipping towards. This story will entice readers who enjoy diving into issue-focused dystopic speculative fiction and challenges us to think about what it means to exclude others, and what may be gained from welcoming outsiders and working together. Read on >

  • There is passion and an abiding affection for all libraries in this new work by the author of the bestselling book about orchid obsession, The Orchid Thief. The LA Central Library opens its doors freely to homeless people and provides services for them. This is challenging sometimes for staff but is part of the commitment by libraries around the world to be open to all people. Read on >

  • This book had me captivated and brought home to me the wonder of symbiosis. It is a must for all libraries so as the children can understand how these incredible relationships have evolved. Read on >

  • There’s plenty of political analysis in Blackout but it comes without a hint of spin. He strives to make the story of electricity and energy policy accessible and engaging in a way that cuts through the jargon and ideological bias that so often mars discussion of these issues. Warren admits that even he isn’t ‘fluent in Electricity’ – because it is indeed a language, and a technical and unromantic one. But the production of electricity has a fascinating story. Read on >

  • This novella is about a lifelong friendship between a girl called Mary and a golden snake called Lanmo − a friendship which teaches them how ‘wonderful and terrible and strange’ love is. Read on >

  • Belinda’s absent father refuses to pay for her schooling so she leaves her village in Ghana to become a housegirl in Aunty and Uncle’s house in Kumasi. She represses painful memories of her village, and is a compliant and meticulous housegirl. Read on >

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