Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 Australian Women Writers Challenge completed!

Once again, looking over my list of books that I read for AWW challenge this year, I have been delighted by the wonderful talent that our local women writers have. I read 11 books and reviewed 6 of them to complete the challenge, and I am now going to sign up for 2017!

  1. The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader (Reviewed)
  2. Thursday’s Child by Sonya Hartnett
  3. Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan
  4. Hope Farm by Peggy Frew (Reviewed)
  5. Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall (Reviewed)
  6. Fine by Michelle Wright
  7. Nest by Inga Simpson (Reviewed)
  8. The Dry by Jane Harper
  9. Fight like a Girl by Clementine Ford
  10. The Good People by Hannah Kent (Reviewed)
  11. Hello Beautiful: Scenes from a life by Hannie Kent (Reviewed)
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The Good People by Hannah Kent

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After reading Hannah Kent’s first novel “Burial Rites”, and absolutely loving it, I was very excited to find out that her second novel was to be released. I have now read “The Good People” and was just as impressed with it.

Her first book was so beautifully written that I was entirely confident that this new book would not disappoint. It is written in the same exquisite style, with gorgeous sentences composed with wonderful words that you want to linger over. I’m sure that it would be a wonderful story to listen to as an audio book, just because her writing is so lovely! However, as I became more engrossed in the actual story, I found myself rushing over some the writing, unfortunately, because I just had to find out what was going to happen next.

Like “Burial Rites”, this story has a rural setting and is based on a true story. Set in 19th century Ireland, this story describes the desperately hard life of survival in the very poor villages. People scavenged a meagre living from the land and had very little contact with the outside world. In this book the story is about a woman, Nora, who after the death of her daughter, is given the duty of looking after her grandson. Although it is not specified, it is obvious that the child has a very serious developmental problem, so Nora keeps him hidden in her home away from the rest of the villagers. Not long after, her husband also dies and so now she must try to manage the almost impossible care of her grandson on her own.

Nora hires a young girl to help her, but the task becomes increasingly desperate. With the local doctor not able to provide any cure and the local priest refusing to give any support, Nora must turn to the village’s wise woman for hope of some sort of cure. As the desperation of the situation escalates, the series of events leads to an inevitable tragedy. This story is a very sad, but accurate description of the ignorance and poverty that the people of this time endured. However, despite the grimness of the tale, it ends on a surprisingly positive note which took me completely by surprise.

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Hello Beautiful! : Scenes from a life by Hannie Rayson

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This charming book had been on my “To read” list for quite some time – it has been a Bookclub favourite for many of my friends. After Hannie Rayson came and spoke to students at the school where I work, I knew that I had to read it! She is a warm, generous and funny speaker, and her book reads exactly the same way. It is as if you are sitting down with her for a cup of tea and just having a chat.

Told as a series of reminisces, Hannie describes times from her childhood, her first marriage, her second marriage, having her son, her friendships and her life as a writer. I live in Melbourne, like Hannie, so I particularly enjoyed reading about her times in the various suburbs of Melbourne and she writes about their particular characteristics in a very entertaining way. This is very much a Melbourne book and many readers will identify with some of Hannie’s  experiences.

This collection of writings is one that a reader can simply dip in and out of, or simply read cover to cover, which is probably the way most will do once they start reading! It provides so many good chuckles that it is very hard to stop reading once you have begun.

This is a book that is perfect for the summer holiday reading list, so it is a guaranteed good book for anyone’s christmas present or even a  bookclub kris kringle. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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