"Exactly. She does not shine as a wife even in her own account of what occurred. I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson, but my experience of life has taught me that there are few wives having any regard for their husbands who would let any man's spoken word stand between them and that husband's dead body. Should I ever marry, Watson, I should hope to inspire my wife with some feeling which would prevent her from being walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was lying within a few yards of her."
Friday, 21 April 2017
Thursday, 20 April 2017
I purchased Maus a long time ago, back when I had grand plans to do a series of reviews on Pulitzer Prize winning novels that, sadly, never really got off the ground. It seemed like an important inclusion--after all, it is the only graphic novel to have ever won the prestigious and coveted award. Anyway, I re-read Maus recently and decided that it is certainly worth talking about.
In the 1980s Art Spiegelman, an American comic book artist, came up with the idea of interviewing his father about his experiences of the Holocaust. What transpired was a deeply personal story about a Jewish man living in Poland who suffered persecution at every turn, the loss of friends and immediate family members (including his oldest son,) and who managed to survive both by intelligence and a lot of luck. The story was then made into a graphic novel, Maus, featuring Jews as Mice, Nazis as Cats, Poles as Pigs and Americans as Dogs. This novel was eventually followed by a sequel Maus Volume II.
The brilliance of Maus is that it tells the story of the Holocaust in a very personal way. This is one man's story. One ordinary man, who found himself in the most horrific of circumstances. Despite the odds, he managed to survive. The novel also highlights the after-effects of living through such an ordeal.
This is one of many books that I have read in the past year that I really do think should be required reading for high school students. Maus is an upfront, honest and personal account of one of the most horrific events of the twentieth century.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Well, it's only April and this year has probably been one of my best yet for the Aussie Author Challenge. I am two thirds of the way there, toward my goal, which is:
To read twelve titles by Australian authors, fiction or non-fiction.
At least four of these titles must be by authors who are new to me.
At least four of these authors must be female.
At least four of these authors must be male.
There must be at least three genres.
So lets see how I'm doing so far ...
I have read nine titles:
Hot or What by Margaret Clarke (Fiction, YA.)
An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire (Literary Fiction, Author is new to me.)
Magpie by Peter Goldsworthy and Brian Matthews (Literary Fiction.)
In Two Minds by Gordon Parker (Literary Fiction, Author is new to me.)
Lochie Leonard: Human Torpedo by Tim Winton (Fiction, YA.)
Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher (Fiction, children's.)
Paris Lights by CJ Duggan (Fiction, New Adult Romance.)
The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster (Fiction, Psyhological Thriller.)
The Case Against Fragrance by Kate Grenville (Non-Fiction.)
Eight titles are fiction. The genres represented include Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Children's and New Adult Romance.
One title is non-fiction.
So far, only two authors are new to me, Emily Maguire and Gordon Parker. Technically, Brian Matthews is a new author as well, but, alas I've read titles by his co-author Peter Goldsworthy.
Six titles have been written by women; three titles have been written by men.
This means that out of the next three titles I read for the challenge, at least two must be by authors who are new to me and at least one of these titles must be written by a male author. It's probable that I'll read other titles by Australian authors that do not fit these requirements in the meantime, but for fun, I'm hoping to link those reviews back to the challenge as well. After all, the whole reason I am doing this challenge is to share my love of Australian books and authors with the world.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
While author Kate Grenville (best known for her novel The Secret River*,) was on a book tour, she became dogged by ill health. Her headaches seemed to have one common element--they happened every time that she was exposed to any kind of fragrance, whether it be from perfume, an air freshener or something else. She decided to investigate what was in fragrance. The result is The Case Against Fragrance a short, non-fiction work that examines what is in fragrance, how is it regulated in Australia and why are we all so hung up on something that might be bad for us?
The possibility that fragrance might pose a threat to some individuals is something that I have been aware of since I was in my teens. What I was unaware of is just how widespread that threat may be. Certainly, in The Case Against Fragrance Grenville points out some unpleasant realities--that what we find in the chemicals that are used to create fragrance are many, many times more potent than anything that we find in nature, and that some fragrances may be carcinogenic. And if the author's goal is to stop and make readers think about what they are applying to their body, then her argument is compelling. (And that something I might dab on in the morning in small quantities could cause suffering to another person made me pause. Was I as ignorant as someone who lit a cigarette in front of an asthmatic?) The prose is easy to read, and Grenville never bogs the reader down in scientific language.
If you've ever questioned what is in that bottle of perfume or after shave (or even if you haven't,) this one poses an interesting argument.
This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017
*Personally, my favourite Kate Grenville novel is The Idea of Perfection.
Friday, 14 April 2017
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Eleanor is a lonely young Australian woman who is keen to escape the demons of her past. Living with her Uncle and his family in London, she has found a position at a prestigious publishing house. Then Arabella, a glamourous and charismatic employee is found dead in the River Thames after the work Christmas party. No one knows how she died, but Eleanor may have the answers ... if only she could remember what happened that night.
The Hidden Hours is certainly an intriguing novel. In some respects, Arabella reminded me of the title character from Daphne Du Marier's Rebecca (a novel I love,) but this is a very different story, with different outcomes. Eleanor is an interesting protagonist whose life is weighed down by some fairly traumatic events. The author weaves between the past and the present to offer readers a sympathetic portrait of a young woman whose life has been shaped by a tragic event, and her portrayal of Eleanor is commendable. That said, much like London weather in December, parts of this story left me feeling cold. (Then again, I doubt some scenes were suppose to leave readers feeling warm and fuzzy.)
The eventual answers to the mystery are as satisfying as they are believable.
If you have enjoyed Sara Foster's previous novels then I have no doubt that you will enjoy this one.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of The Hidden Hours.
This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017