Mullumbimby

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Read 12/11/2017-19/11/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge

Mullumbimby is the story of Jo Breen, a former musician, divorced from her husband, bringing up her daughter Ellen as a single mum. Jo lives in Mullumbimby, a town in New South Wales, where she earns a living mowing the grass in the white people’s cemetery. Jo is a Goorie woman from the Bundjalung nation. Her ex-husband Paul is a white Australian. Jo wants to reconnect with her Aboriginal roots. She is instantly likeable, warm and ready to laugh, easy going and a hard worker for the things she believes in – family, identity, and respect. Mullumbimby focuses on Jo’s attempts to re-establish herself on tribal land and reveals the conflict that forms the history of land appropriation and informs the native title claims process in Australia, as well as the conflict between different generations of Aboriginal people. Continue reading

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The Current

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Read 10/11/2017-12/11/2017

Rating: 2 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge.

Eighteen months ago, Weezelle over at Words and Leaves interviewed Yannick Thoraval about his novel about climate change, The Current. I downloaded a free copy from his site, because I liked how he came across in his answers to Weezelle’s questions. I especially liked his perspective on self-publishing.

I read bearing in mind that this is a self-published novel, that despite employing a team to help polish the work in the way an independent publisher would, it might not feel like a traditionally published book. Continue reading

Half Broke Horses

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Read 02/11/2017-05/11/2017

Rating: 3 stars

I chose this book for Arizona on my US Reading Challenge. It has good scores on both Goodreads and LibraryThing, and a review in the New York Times praised it for its reminder of what life was like for many in the western states of the US from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. The publisher, Simon and Schuster, has this to say:

Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.

Wow, right? Continue reading

The 19th Wife

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Read 16/10/2017-30/10/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Onward in my tour of US authors by state, and to Utah. All that I know about Utah is it has a Salt Lake and is the home state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. All that I know about the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, is gleaned from being an archivist and having watched a couple of episodes of Big Love once. Continue reading

My Ántonia

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Read 08/10/2017-16/10/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I chose this book for Nebraska in the US Road Trip reading challenge that The Reader’s Room ran from July to September. I didn’t manage to complete the challenge, but I’ve decided to carry on because I’m enjoying discovering new-to-me American authors. I hadn’t heard of Willa Cather. My Ántonia has a 34-page introduction in the Oxford World’s Classics edition that I borrowed from the library, which I skipped to read the novel, but then didn’t return to because I didn’t want someone else’s academic critique to spoil the book with earnest dullness. Maybe it wasn’t dull at all. (It looked dull.)

Anyway, to my hopefully not dull critique of the novel! Jim Burden, a New York-based lawyer for a railway company, encounters an old friend on a train journey across Iowa. They begin to reminisce about a woman, the Ántonia of the title, whom they both knew in Nebraska when they were young.

Continue reading

The Maid’s Version

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Read 17/09/2017-20/09/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Road Trip Challenge

According to a quote from Roddy Doyle on the front cover of The Maid’s Version, Daniel Woodrell is one of the world’s greatest novelists. I hadn’t heard of him until Missouri came up on the US Road Trip Challenge and I was hunting around for a book set there or written by a local author. I discovered that he wrote Winter’s Bone, on which the film I’ve started watching a couple of times but never finished is based. My local library doesn’t have its own copy of Winter’s Bone, so I borrowed The Maid’s Version instead. I found the opening scenes of the film version of Winter’s Bone visually dark and grey, so I was expecting The Maid’s Version to be the same. I was wrong. It started muted but, as it progressed, there were bursts of colour. Continue reading

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

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Read 12/09/2017-17/09/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Road Trip Challenge

It’s a funny old thing, time. Gwen and I have been chatting in the comments over on her blog about how our attitudes to books and their authors change over time, and how where you are in your life can affect how you react to a book, from thinking it’s the best thing ever written to throwing it down in disgust before you’re even half way through.

That’s almost where I am with Bill Bryson. Continue reading