Round up of Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2013

This years reading for my challenge was somewhat sporadic and reviewing basically non-existent. I really didn’t achieve reading too many Australian Women Writers – but I didn’t read a lot of books in total. The Collins Robert French Dictionary was probably my most read book, oh and Trip Advisor! However, the books I did read I truly enjoyed, they well well crafted and all completely different.

I did read a couple of wonderful books for the Challenge and whilst would love to have posted reviews, my other commitments took precedence. It is nearly two months since we returned from our family holiday to Europe, which exceeded our expectations of wonderful experiences shared with our gorgeous kids. One of my favourite images that will remain with me forever, is the children tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome late at night. The fountain was lustrous and it had a real magic about it.

On a beautiful Autumn Evenine

On a beautiful Autumn Evening

I read one of my Australian novels when away, which I downloaded onto my Nexus 7 before we left.

Burial Rites by Hannah kentBurial Rites by Hannah Kent was a standout read for me. I found parallels with the novel Galore, in that they both evoke a cold, isolated world of the Northern Hemisphere in combination with close living characters who are simple but at the same time profoundly complex. Wonderful and another talented South Australian, who I have just discovered will be at Adelaide Festival Writers Week in March!

BitterGreensBefore I went away I read Kate Forsyth’s wonderful Bitter Greens, the re-telling of the Rapunzel fable in 3 different iterations all connecting and coming together in the most clever way. A mix of fable, fantasy and historical novel. I am a fan of the history of the Sun King Louis XIV and his forebears and really enjoyed Kate’s use of this in the book and central character. Highly recommended!

French Promise by Fiona McIntoshI received the second book in Fiona McIntosh’s story of a Lavender grower from the Luberon region of Provence, France as my mothers day gift. A French Promise had been read by most of my book club and they were all a bit ho-hum about it. I was reluctant to pick it up and read it, not wanting to be disappointed. However, I found myself drawn into the story through the experiences of the sisters in a German concentration camp to reconnecting with a dispirited main character. It made sense after all that had happened in the previous story, The Lavender Keeper, I thought the book was true, with a little bit of magic put in for good measure. Again McIntosh doesn’t really rest on sentimentality, it was hard to read at times as I fell in love with characters who met with tragedy. I am amazed how in a short number of words and pages she can create rich characters.

Since New Year I have already read two books for the 2014 Challenge, reviewing may not be my strong suit this year either as we will be embarking on a big house renovation. I will do my best. Now I must head back to my private blog of our trip, as I am getting it ready for exporting to Book Blurb to make into a permanent record of our adventure. Happy New Year! Bonne Annee!

Friday on My Mind

Hello friends,

It has been almost 3 months since my last blog post and this is a pretty good reflection of the amount of reading I have accomplished in this time.

I still have several book reviews to complete and post, however, other more exciting things have been occupying my time, which I haven’t been blogging about (maybe I should). Well, perhaps not all exciting.

  1. I am learning French and with a trip to Europe imminent I have been very consumed with trying to improve. I am a beginner, 2 years of 1.5 hours per week isn’t really improving my skills greatly, but I do love the language.
  2. My daughter is off to Padova, Italy on language exchange for a month, living with a family and going to school. She will be away a total of 9 weeks, including time with us and the studying regime has been pretty intense in the lead up. (not exciting!) I am so very proud of her and know that it will all bring rewards.
  3. Planning and booking our holiday – this has been time consuming, largely due to my need to investigate everything into the minute detail. I hope that the accommodation that I have chosen for our family will not disappoint, but you just never know what a place may be like until you get there. Travelling with teenagers brings a whole new set of challenges, trying to find appropriate accommodation and activities.
  4. My mother in law has been unwell
  5. And finally we are trying to renovate our beautiful Gentleman’s Bungalow!

I recently read a blog post that discussed posting frequency and consistency.  I thought the content was pretty spot on, most people dont notice if you take a hiatus – unless you are prolific and if you are anything like me I like to not be overwhelmed with constant posts – particularly long ones. Does it matter to you how often I post? I would be surprised if it did, but let me know if I am wrong.

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Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Loved the start of this book, the language that Winton uses gives an often Cloudstreethumourous edge to the visual descriptive.  The first time we see the strange, just functioning Pickle family is fishing on the beach. What occurs here sets up a certain mystical vein that runs through the book. It is a vein that had me hooked to see the ultimate outcome of the story to the end.

I really enjoyed the book when it came to the experiences of the families living separately and together in the big house. The unmotivated, complex Pickles vs the Lambs desperate struggle to rise above their situation and improve their lives. Mrs Lamb story was extremely interesting to me and I was so keen for it to be further explored/explained.

It almost seemed to me that Winton wanted to give us a rich tapestry of the two families real lives, but tease us with the suggestion that other more magical and mysterious forces were at work in their world, determining their futures.

I didn’t relate to the location or see this as a particularly ‘Australian’ story, but I am 100% sure that Western Australians would; I’ve never been to WA. Having read the Newfoundland novel Galore last year, I couldn’t help but draw some paralells between the two types of stories. Great familial epics with a suggestion of the other worldliness. although I enjoyed Galore more than Cloudstreet, I still thought Cloudstreet was clever and a fabulous read.

Most of all, I now have some credibility as an Australian reader that I can say I have actually read a ‘Tim Winton’. At times when having book talks with others, this can seem to be a right of passage.