19 reviews this month so a lot of us have been busy! And not just Christmas shopping. Many of the reviews are very familiar titles that I have featured over the last few months – The Strays by Emily Bitto, The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, The Wild Girl and The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth, A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French, The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham and Swimming Home by Mary-Rose MacColl so I won’t repeat here.
I’ll kick off with Give the Devil His Due by Sulari Gentill, the seventh novel in the series. “In this novel, Rowland Sinclair is planning to race his yellow 1927 Mercedes S-Class at the Maroubra speedway for a charity race in aid of the Red Cross. When a journalist who interviews him is killed.” Jennifer from Goodreads writes: “I really enjoyed this novel. There are plenty of twists and turns as Sinclair and his friends try to find out who killed the journalist. Ms Gentill has a great mix of characters, and the use of actual newspaper articles from the period as chapter openings serves to reinforce the setting. I loved the depiction of Errol Flynn (he fits right in, naturally) and wanted to know more about Arthur Stace. Carol at Reading, Writing and Riesling observes, “Gentill’s passion for this era is obvious on every page. The tone, style and colour of this narrative paints an evocative and very visual account of Australian society in the 1930’s.”
Back 70 odd years to 1861, the year of the first Melbourne Cup and The Horse Thief by Tea Cooper. “India KIlhampton will breed a horse to win the coveted trophy.” Brenda at Goodreads says, “The Horse Thief by Aussie author Tea Cooper is an exquisitely written historical fiction novel which is set in the beautiful countryside of the Hunter Valley in NSW. Wonderfully descriptive, the landscape was brought to life for me – Morpeth, the steamer to Sydney via Newcastle – all familiar.” I love Morpeth so maybe I should have a look at this one!
Brenda at Goodreads also reviewed Tallowood Bound by Karly Lane. “When Erin Macalister heads to her home town to help take care of her beloved grandmother she’s relieved to be leaving behind both the city and the remnants of a broken marriage.” Brenda writes: “I thoroughly enjoyed Tallowood Bound by Aussie author Karly Lane – the alternating time frames between the war years in Townsville 1943 and current day in the early part of the book were poignant and moving.” Veronica at Goodreads concludes: “Karly Lane has done it again, Tallowood Bound is a truly heartbreaking and touching read. Be prepared to put all else “aside for the day, you will not want to put this book down.”
Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh is a time slip novel set in 1978 and 1715. Ellen Konstantine at Goodreads was enthralled. “I loved the imagery and the two settings of 1716 and 1970s. For me going back and forth helped create the tension of the ‘will she/won’t she’. Definitely would love to read more of the historical adventure romances of Fiona McIntosh.” Who can resist time travel?
Olmec Obituary by L J M Owen, Tracey from Carpe Librum observes, “is essentially a crime novel come cozy mystery (with stunning cover) where Dr Pimms will need all of her skills if she has any hope of unravelling a 3,000 year old mystery.” Tracey writes: “I enjoyed this debut, but two things kept me from rating it higher. The first being the few chapters set 3,000 years ago. The dialogue between the characters seemed very 21st Century…and my second issue was the number of times the character’s cats were mentioned.” Interesting reservations!
Another review by Jennifer at Goodreads is a book with a very strange title – The Curer of Souls by Lindsay Simpson. “In London in 1865 Lydia Frankland finds a love letter written twenty years earlier by her late stepmother, Jane, to a natural historian at Port Arthur, Louis Lempriere. In the letter Jane confesses she is in love with Louis.” Jennifer concludes, “I’d recommend this novel to those interested in Tasmania’s past as a colonial penal colony, its natural history and the life and times of Lady Jane Franklin. A fascinating and energetic woman, but not without flaw.”e
Last but not least as they say is We Are the Rebels by Clare Wright. “The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is the most talked-about work of Australian history in recent years. Now here is Clare Wright’s groundbreaking, award-winning study of the women who made the rebellion in an abridged edition for teenage readers.” Rochelle at Inside My Worlds writes enthusiastically: “Clare Wright has done an amazing job of presenting the women and men who made Eureka. She has painted a vivid picture of their lives, their struggles and gave us personal accounts so the figures become as real as they once were and made it feel as if we knew these people.”
So where would you like to go during the holidays? To the Eureka Stockade, Melbourne in 1861, Tasmania in the 19th Century or take a wild step back 3,000 years? Maybe England 1715, Townsville 1943 or Sydney in the 1930s?Take your pick and have a good Christmas. I’ll see you in the New Year.
My name is Debbie Robson and I am a bookcrosser, booklover and author. I love researching the 20th century and finding those small but relevant details that can make the past come alive. You can find me on twitter: lakelady2282