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8 June  marks National Best Friends Day, so we’re celebrating with some of literature’s most enduring friendships. Grab a BFF and test your knowledge of friends in old classics and new favourites!
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author AMY STEWART stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with an officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series, set in New Jersey in 1915, based on Constance and her two sisters. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, ANGUS DALTON finds out more. Read on >
  • Sydney-based novelist LAUREN SAMS, author of She’s Having Her Baby, has worked for magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Her new book, Crazy Busy Guilty, reprises the heroine Georgie Henderson, who tries frantically to juggle work and family. We spoke recently with Lauren, who talked about the US election, writer’s block and wacky parenting strategies.  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 >
  • AOIFE CLIFFORD is the winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award for one of her crime stories, but All These Perfect Strangers is her first novel. The Melbourne-based crime novelist talks with us about New Year’s resolutions, her Irish poet grandfather and the similarities between writing a novel and creating a papier-mâché puppet.  Read on >
  • gr highlights cookbooks to buy for the discerning foodies in your life. Read on >
  • This first foray into crime fiction by Australian author Melina Marchetta, best known for her award-winning fiction for young adults, is a cracking read.   Read on >
  • Most of Lonely Planet’s publications can fit snugly at the bottom of a backpack, but The Travel Book is a volume best left at home on the coffee table to inspire adventures.  Read on >
  • In the early 1900s, the luminescent properties of radium – a highly radioactive metal – had just been discovered, and entrepreneurs were quick to identify its marketing potential. They flooded supermarket shelves with radium-based products, and thousands of young women in North America were hired to paint clock dials with radium. The girls would go home with their hands aglow, oblivious to the bone-destroying radiation they had been exposed to. We spoke with London-based author KATE MOORE about these workers’ stories, which appear in her new book, The Radium Girls. Read on >
  • Following on from her two-million-selling historical novel Orphan Train, CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE has delved into the backstory of a famous painting by Andrew Wyeth to write her new novel, A Piece of the World. ANGUS DALTON talks with the author.  Read on >
  • Best known for his role as a team captain on ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks, ALAN BROUGH has also worked as a radio presenter,
actor and stand- up comedian. In the 1990s he also appeared in a series of TV commercials as a drag queen called Marge. He had always wanted to write, and now he has fulfilled that ambition with his new children’s book, Charlie and the War Against the Grannies. He tells us about the books that have made him the reader and writer that he is today. Read on >
  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author Amy Stewart stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with a officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series based around Constance and her two sisters, set in New Jersey in 1915. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, Angus Dalton finds out more. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I adored this book. The captivating Allegra leads a strong cast of characters. A delightful, uplifting read. Read on >

  • It’s tempting to read this novel in one sitting, as every chapter demands your undivided attention. This account of the protagonist’s dangerous hitchhiking from Alice Springs towards Melbourne on the Stuart Highway is urgent and full of suspense. Lucy the dog is a beguiling character and plays an important part in the narrative. Animal lovers will enjoy her doggy reactions. Read on >

  • It is beautifully written, with Nunez musing on all kinds of topics, particularly about writing, within each chapter as the woman slowly remakes her life, and that of Apollo, while carrying on her work with students, negotiating life in her apartment building that forbids the keeping of pets and recalling conversations with her dead friend. Read on >

  • This short, powerful read escalates gradually with chilling suspense until the final breath-stopping parade. Eggers stirs up my feelings of helplessness in understanding the wars of other nations and their concept of peace. Read on >

  • Odette is a gentle yet fiercely protective woman and a powerful character. Her story of trying to keep her family together in the face of racism – from belittlement, sneers and aggression to the kind that manifests in systematic, government-sanctioned discrimination – is one of heartbreak, courage and hope. Though set in the ’60s, the story in The White Girl remains relevant. Last year it was revealed that since Kevin Rudd’s 2008 apology for the Stolen Generations, the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care has doubled. Indigenous leader Richard Weston said at the time, ‘The system keeps failing Aboriginal families and communities because it is punitive, not supportive.’ The White Girl certainly speaks to that. Read on >

  • This is a wonderful debut from Tabitha Bird. It deals with dark themes – what child Willa is forced to endure is heartbreaking – but this darkness is offset by the beautiful writing, full of evocative images, and an uplifting story about the power of forgiveness, the ability to heal and the magical idea of being able to travel back in time to fix a broken future. The three Willas are wonderful characters, stronger and braver than they believe, and I cheered them on the whole way. Read on >

  • Antonina is a member of the Koryo-saram: a group of Russians of Korean descent that Stalin labelled the ‘Unreliable People’ in the 1920s and exiled en-masse to the furthest reaches of the Soviet Republic, despite whatever services they may have offered the regime. Antonina’s people have been at best, ignored and, at worst, persecuted. Read on >

  • The three stories are presented after the preface and the reader is given the choice to read the stories conventionally, one after the other, or follow the wishes of the Baroness. I chose the Baroness sequence, because duh. And I was absolutely swept away. Read on >

  • A hitchhiker, Gabriel, shows up at the outback police station of Wilbrook in torn clothing stained with sun-dried blood. He says he escaped a killer named Heath, who picked him up from the highway, gave him poisoned water, and strung him up in chains. Heath had gloated to Gabriel that he’d be his 55th murder victim. Read on >

  • Kingdom of the Blind is a cozy crime novel, a tale of love, revenge and tragedy. It’s an accomplished whodunnit with witty dialogue and quirky, eccentric characters. An enjoyable read. Read on >

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Great Love stories