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Patchett is a master novelist of family life. Her compelling characters struggle to maintain their relationships. They all have different attitudes to the demands of forgiveness. Some struggle to forgive the past, while others overcome this by the greater desire to accept and enjoy the present. This gives the plot many surprising twists and turns and Danny’s memories blend in effortlessly with the present action, just like our ghosts from the past often do.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Heart surgeon PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY has worked for 35 years to save ailing hearts and, in many cases, give his patients a second chance at life. In his new memoir, Fragile Lives, Westaby recounts remarkable and poignant cases, such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks before reaching six months of age. We asked him to tell us a bit about his life as a surgeon. Read on >
  • The town of Sorrento in southern Italy sits high on a clff above the Tyrrhenian Sea, whose waters are sobuoyant and warm that you can doze off while floating on its surface. But as author KATE FURNIVALL found, the nearby city of Naples is steeped in a history of danger and wartime poverty. The UK author tells gr her latest novel, The Liberation, was inspired by the secret tunnels, mafia strongholds and the of child street gangs she encountered on a recent visit to the Bay of Naples. Read on >
  • ABC journalist and science writer IAN TOWNSEND cut his teeth as a novelist in 2007 with Affection, which told the story of a plague outbreak in 1900. His next novel, The Devil’s Eye, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2009. Now with Line of Fire, he turns his pen to narrative non-fiction to tell the story of Richard Manson, an 11-year-old boy who was accused of espionage and shot by the Japanese during World War II in New Guinea. Read on >
  • 'Books, and lovers or friends, mark and change us. And we, in turn, mark and change them.' Melbourne novelist CATH CROWLEY writes about her longtime love of secondhand bookshops, and how the histories she found and imagined there led her to write Words in Deep Blue. 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 >
  • If you think of the German navy in World War II, then you probably conjure up images of grand-scale conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic or the Baltic Sea campaigns. But not so many people are aware that German ships were also on the prowl down in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, where they disguised themselves as ordinary freighters before launching their deadly assaults on unsuspecting Allied craft. False Flags, a new account by Canberra author STEPHEN ROBINSON, tells the story of four German raiders, including the infamous attack by one of them, the Kormoran, on the HMAS Sydney in 1941. GRANT HANSEN reports. Read on >
  • The symptoms of boredom, loneliness and heartache can often be alleviated by exposure to a good novel. But poetry can also have a similar healing effect. If you suffer from any of the following undesirable conditions, try these three poetic prescriptions that might just do the trick. 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 >
  • Creativity is often thought of as a special gift bestowed on only a handful of lucky people. But as Australian novelist SUE WOOLFE points out, it’s a skill that you can cultivate. Here are five tips she used to create her latest collection of stories, Do You Love Me or What? 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 >
  • 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 >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This gripping story ranges from the late 19th century in Finland to 1930s Oregon, taking in WWI; industrial unrest; farming and logging; salmon fishing; bootlegging during Prohibition; births, deaths and marriages; and, always, the importance of family in Aino’s life. Those fictional Finns who tamed the wilderness, coping with family tragedy as well as extreme weather, did it all with ‘sisu’ that Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. Finns themselves believe it expresses their national character. Read on >

  • The Secrets We Kept is enjoyable and the characters are interesting. The film rights for this novel have been sold, and I imagine it will make a splendid and entertaining movie. Read on >

  • This author’s first bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, was variously described as self-indulgent or marvellous. In a nod to some critics who found that contentious memoir portrayed an indulged, privileged white woman, Gilbert has this novel’s narrator to be just that, and what’s more, eventually realises it. Read on >

  • Quichotte is a fabulist tale that is satirical, speculative and sometimes bewildering. You’re either going to love Rushdie’s verbosity or you’ll take violently against it. Quichotte is for people who like their sentences long, their characters complex and gravitate to high-concept narrative themes. It’s highly unlikely you’ll read anything quite like it. Read on >

  • Lucy Treloar has conjured a world that is not so different from our own but the political, social, environmental and legal consequences that climate change has brought are slowly revealed. The best and worst of human nature is on display: from suspicious bystanders to trigger-happy vigilantes to those who offer help, even if it is in small ways. Kitty is a tough character and her journey is memorable. Part The Road, part western, part mystery, this is a brilliant novel. Read on >

  • The littlies will love the rhythm and rhyme in this enchanting tale. And the beautiful woodland paintings on each page bring such magic to the story. And there’s a lovely little twist at the end. A perfect bedtime story. Read on >

  • Today, at 10 Pomegranate Street, there are delicious smells coming from each apartment. You see, everyone at Number 10 is preparing a special dish to share with their neighbours. Mister Ping is stir-frying broccoli with sesame and soy while across the hall Maria is mashing avocados for her guacamole. Upstairs Senora Flores is cooking up a black bean soup while on the third floor Miss Ishida is making Oyako Don which is chicken & egg rice. And way up on the fifth floor there are wonderful smells of Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Cookies and Strawberry Crumble. Read on >

  • This is such a clever little story that is so easy to relate to especially as the author’s illustrations are so evocative. And the colours he uses help to tell us exactly how Ravi is feeling. There’s a tiger in all of us isn’t there, especially when we are children. Read on >

  • From the Great White Shark wickedly smiling at you on the first page to the big, friendly Green Sea Turtle on the last, it’s a delight from beginning to end. Don’t miss it. The kids will love it and drive you crazy with all the new facts they’ve learnt. Read on >

  • Many stories are a journey in self-discovery and Abi Elphinstone’s first novel in the ‘Unmapped Chronicles’ is no exception. Elphinstone has presented an enjoyable, exciting and at times humorous story. I look forward to the next instalment. Read on >

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Books for Boys