For the purposes of this challenge ‘general fiction’, is defined as fiction set post mid 1900′s, which does not fit neatly into a specific literary genre.
The Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett
‘Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to.
But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.‘
Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest writes; “Like of all of Hartnett’s stories, there are many layers – I haven’t even mentioned the significant theme of children realising faults in their parents OR her wonderful analogies with seawater OR the brilliant scene where the Jenson’s above-ground swimming pool is filled OR how Hartnett slowly, slowly build the evidence and the tension OR how the violence jumps off the page OR how much I loved the character of Syd OR how the back-stories of Garrick and Avery were very, very cleverly constructed.” Bree from All the Books I Can Read concludes; “a highly skilled novel, well crafted and written and it’s the sort of story that sneaks up on you and leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve completed it.”
Mothers and Daughters by Kylie Ladd
‘Four mothers. Four teenage daughters. An isolated tropical paradise with no internet or mobile phone reception. What could possibly go wrong? There’s tension, bitchiness, bullying, sex, drunken confessions, bad behaviour and breakdowns – and wait till you see what the teenagers get up to…
How can we let our daughters go to forge lives of their own when what we most want to do is hold them close and never let them go? How do we let them grow and keep them protected from the dark things in the world at the same time? And how can mothers and daughters navigate the troubled, stormy waters of adolescence without hurting themselves and each other? A clear-eyed, insightful and wildly entertaining look into the complicated, emotional world of mothers and daughters.’
“Thematically, Mothers and Daughters hit the spot. However, the overall emotional impact given those themes was less than I expected.” asserts Monique from Write Note Reviews. Lynette from The Clothesline thinks; “…Ladd does provide a nuanced look at life in a remote Aboriginal community. Mason, an Aboriginal man and Tia’s father is an interesting character with an authentic voice. Ladd addresses problems and deep-seated racism, facing them head on usually through Amira’s empathetic eyes, and it is possible to feel you have glimpsed some of the complex difficulties facing Indigenous people in Australia, and also to have an insight into a possible solution where healthy, functional, self-managed Indigenous communities can exist.” Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out writes; “I glimpse elements of my own relationship with my mother, and my teenage daughter, in this story of these women and girls, and pieces of mothers and daughters I have known in the characters.”
Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer
‘When all that you know comes crashing down, do you run? Or face the truth? Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life – a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career – but in one terrible moment, her life unravels. The discovery that the death of her sister, Jamie, was not an accident makes her question all she’s known about herself and her past.
Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been forever blocked in her memory . . . Snatches of her childhood with beautiful Jamie, and Ruby’s only friendship with the boy from the next property, a troubled foster kid. Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol where she is imprisoned for murder. As she reads, Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence. Slowly, the gaps in Ruby’s memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core – about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.‘
“Beautifully written, richly characterised and intricately plotted, Lyrebird Hill is one of those books that draws you in and doesn’t let go …:” writes Monique of Write Note Reviews. Debbish says; “I found myself very eager to discover Brenna’s story in particular. And although it didn’t feature heavily, I also loved the insight into the challenges and injustices being faced by the Indigenous community (and to a lesser extent, women) over a century ago. ”
When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett
‘Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything. Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all. For Isla, those two long summers will change everything. Favel Parrett delivers an evocative and gently told story about the power fear and kindness have to change lives.’
Brenda’s opinion is effusive; “What an amazing novel! Evocative, pure, resonating and powerful, this second novel by Aussie author Favel Parrett is absolutely beautiful. The writing is inspiring, the descriptions of Hobart, Antarctica and Bo’s home in Denmark are such that I felt I was there, experiencing the icy cold and frigid beauty.” Kathryn; “…was quickly seduced by the style and rhythm of Parrett’s prose and read the book in just a few hours. “
The Golden Age by Joan London
‘He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home. It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At the Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond. The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.‘
The Incredible Rambling Elimy suggests; “This is not a novel which is heavy in plot; in fact were we to focus on the plot it would be a rather short book indeed.” “The Golden Age is a beautiful book – melancholy and sad, uplifting and hopeful, the word pictures are painted with a passion that shows the fragility of life, the deep impressions of a childhood love and the strength of coping with what life sometimes throws at you.” writes Brenda.
You can browse more general fiction titles reviewed by participants on the AWW review site
My name is Shelleyrae Cusbert I am a mother of four children, aged 8 to 18, living in the mid north coast of NSW. I am an obsessive reader and publish my thoughts about what I read at my book blog, Book’d Out. In 2012 I read and reviewed a total of 109 books for the AWW Challenge and in 2013 a total of 117. I juggle caring for my family with a part time job and volunteer at both the town’s local library and the children’s school library.