Australian fiction

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The Golden Age by Joan London: The healing power of love

Both Joan London’s previous novels – Gilgamesh and The Good Parents – stand out for me as fine examples of clean, elegant writing, free of unnecessary ornament. Both also share the theme which runs through The Golden Age: the plight of the outsider, or in this case, outsiders. Frank is the thirteen-year-old son of Jewish-Hungarian …

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The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr: A theremin reprise

Back in what passed for a summer here in the UK, I read Sean Michaels’ Us, Conductors which told the story of Leon Theremin, inventor of the strange musical instrument that bears his name. Thoroughly enjoyable, it has what remains one of the best lines I’ve read in fiction for some time: ‘I had never …

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The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop: An Unexpected Treat

This was the first book I read for review after coming back from my hols. I was looking for something uncomplicated, nothing very taxing, and Stephanie Bishop’s novel with its gold-type adorned jacket looked like it might fit the bill but it took me by surprise. The Other Side of the World turns out to …

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When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett: The story of a sailor, a girl and the Nella Dan

I was drawn to Favel Parrett’s novel by the slimmest of synopses when checking out titles for my Books to Look Out for in November post. Antarctica was the lure. I’ve read several non-fiction books about it and had particularly enjoyed Jenny Diski’s Skating to Antarctica. In the event it’s not really about that but …

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Floundering by Romy Ash: Leading the way to more Australian writing

Romy Ash’s Floundering comes shortlisted for what must be just about every Australian literary prize there is, including the Miles Franklin Award which most of us literary poms have heard of. Aside from Tim Winton and Peter Carey, I don’t read much Australian fiction mainly, I suspect, because not much is published in the UK …

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The Night Guest

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane: Tiger, tiger burning in the night

Old women are not a particularly common subject for contemporary fiction. They’ve been memorably portrayed in several books I’ve read by established authors – Helen Dunmore’s Enid in Burning Bright, Liz Jensen’s Gloria in War Crimes for the Home and Lesley Glaister’s Trixie in The Private Parts of Women for instance, and Angela Carter’s sassy …

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Nine Days by Toni Jordan: A cleverly constructed heartbreaker

If you’re the kind of reader that trawls through all the bits and pieces at the start of a book – the dedication, review quotations and credits, biographical notes (often at the back but useful to know while you’re reading a novel) – you’ll spot Toni Jordan’s note telling you that Nine Days was inspired …

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