Where has the year gone? Spring is already here and we haven’t posted a roundup of general fiction since autumn. Because there have been so many books reviewed since then, I’ve decided to break it down and start with authors’ surnames ending in A-G. I’ll ignore books already highlighted elsewhere or listed under other forms, such as Literary and Diversity.
River Run by Nicole Alexander (Random House, 2016) is set in rural NSW in the 1950s on a shearing farm. Teaser: “Fleeing a failed love affair back in Sydney, Eleanor Webber hopes for some time and space to heal. But with shearing of over 25,000 sheep about to commence, and the infamous and moneyed Margaret Winslow and her husband Keith staying in the main house as her mother’s guests, that dream is quickly dashed.” Jeanette from readroundoz found it un-put-downable.
Next is Look Closer by Rachel Amphlett (self-published 2015): “A bungled assassination attempt on a London street uncovers a disturbing conspiracy fuelled by organised crime and political ambition.” Rowena writes the story has lots of twists and it stayed with her for days.
In A Single Breath by Amanda Apthorpe (Atlas Productions 2015), obstetrician Doctor Dana Cavanagh receives hate letters after the death of a patient. Carol from Reading Writing and Riesling notes that the book wasn’t the mystery she was expecting, but it was interesting: “There is a very feminist tone to this narrative – women as supporters, healers and nurturers reclaiming the medicalization by men of women’s bodies, in particularly the process of birthing.”
The Woman Next Door, by Liz Byrski (Pan Macmillan 2016), is set in Fremantle in Western Australia. According to Brenda on Goodreads, it’s “a wonderfully warm and emotional story about lasting friendships and love.”
In Broken Threads, by Maggie Christensen (Cala Publishing 2015), “Jan Turnbull’s life takes a sharp turn towards chaos the instant her eldest son Simon takes a tumble in the surf and loses his life.” Carol writes: “A great family drama full of situations no parent would ever want to be in. Guilt, blame, denial, grief; all emotions are explored and laid bare.”
Another book by Maggie Christensen is Madeline House (Cala Publishing 2015). Teaser: “When Beth Carson flees her controlling husband, a Sydney surgeon, and travels to Florence, Oregon, she is unsure what her future holds. Although her only knowledge of Florence comes from a few postcards found in her late mother’s effects, she immediately feels at home there and begins to put down roots.” Brenda on Goodreads describes the novel as having an “intriguing plot with a touch of mystery and drama.”
Up and In, by Deborah Disney (Harper Collins 2014), is described by the publishers as “The Devil Wears Prada at the school gates”. Rowena found this book to be a: “light-hearted look at how far mothers will go to ensure their child’s happiness.”
Bush Oranges, by Kay Donovan (Bolinda Audio 2001), is a story set in a sugar town in northern Queensland about the relationship between mothers, daughters and sisters.
Jools on Goodreads found The Memory Tree by Tess Evans (Allen and Unwin 2012) “by no means a light read”. Teaser: “When Hal’s adored wife Paulina dies suddenly whilst dancing with her seven year old daughter Selina (Sealie) in the kitchen of their home, it is more than he can comprehend or bear.” Tess notes that this story charts the emotional and mental decline of Hal over a period of 40 years.
The Bright Side of Life, Annette Freeman (self-published 2014), appears to live up to its title. Teaser: “Charlie Brightman is an Australian in London. He has an acting scholarship, and is looking for a job in the theatre. He’ll do anything, well almost anything, to make it in the theatre. And, even in the Dengate Theatre in Soho, there seem to be opportunities – even if Charlie has to work without pay. But then his acting scholarship is cancelled, and Charlie desperately needs money. So, what’s an aspiring young actor to do?” Jennifer on Goodreads laughed her way through this novel: “It’s light, it’s funny and it’s well worth reading – just don’t take it too seriously.”
Simone from Great Aussie Reads was hooked by Evergreen Falls by Kimberly Freeman (Hachette 2014). The teaser: “Lauren may be 30, but her extremely sheltered life has left her with little life experience and a burning desire to get out and be a part of the real world. Breaking away from the prison of her mother’s emotional neediness, she has taken a job at a cafe near the historic Evergreen Falls Hotel. Currently in the throes of a major renovation, Lauren happens across a key to the hotel and it is when she goes exploring inside that she discovers a series of love letters that almost beg her to unravel their secrets.”
The last book to be mentioned today is Desert Flame by Janine Grey (Penguin 2015). “When her beloved father dies, Eliza Mayberry’s privileged world comes crashing down around her ears. On the verge of losing the business that has been in her family for generations, she has no option but to take over the last remaining case: tracking down the elusive Fingal McLeod in outback New South Wales and bringing him back to Sydney.” Carol from Reading Writing and Riesling writes: “This Australian rural narrative/romantic mystery, is full of spectacular scenery, vibrant characters and with an interesting plot that has the requisite dramas (standover men, vengeful sister of ex-boyfriend, corrupt mining companies etc) and the necessary happy ending…” But it is also peppered with what Carol describes as vivid and unnecessary sex scenes.
That’s it for now. I’ll aim to write another catch up soon, as time permits.
About me: My novel Snowy River Man was released in print in August 2016 in the Country Secrets anthology put out by Mira, along with novels by Mandy Magro and Sarah Barrie. It was previously available only as an ebook, along with my second novel, By Her Side.
Note: Our founding General Fiction editor for AWW, Shelleyrae, has had to step down from her role with AWW due to ill health. Hope you get better soon, Shelleyrae!