Last year I read The Mistake by Wendy James; it ended up being one of the best books I read all year. Here’s a snippet of my review:
A provocative and compelling book, I read The Mistake on the recommendation of another positive review. It was a good reading choice; the book kept me involved with every page turned … Exceptionally written, The Mistake is fast-paced, thought provoking and hard to stop thinking about long after the book has ended. I recommend it highly.
To read the full review, click here.
I’ve just been offered two of James’ earlier books to review: Out of the Silence and The Steele Diaries. They’re being republished as eBooks next month by the team at Momentum, which is great news. They’ve also given me five (5) of each to give away! Which one would you like to win? I think it’s a hard decision.
Out of the Silence won the Best First Australian Crime Novel, Ned Kelly Crime Awards 2006 – here’s a teaser:
I hold Jacky close, fix my eyes on the door and walk as fast as I can.
‘Oh, please, don’t run away. Think of your child, if you cannot think of yourself.’
‘What we are suggesting is nothing,’ the man mutters darkly, as I pass through the door and into the brightly lit hall. ‘Nothing. Far worse can happen.’ Far worse.
I have a baby, two shillings, no reputation and nowhere to go, but even so I cannot imagine what far worse might be.
Synopsis: Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and the remarkable Vida Goldstein, the suffragist who was to become the first woman to stand for Parliament. When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change. The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900’s not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power.
The Steele Diaries is the one that I’d pick, based on first impression. I love the idea of diaries revealing peoples’ inner thoughts. Here’s a teaser:
It is as if I am slowly sinking in the water, just occasionally making it back to the top for a gulp of air to a sort of memory of what life can be what life should be and then down down down I go again. And each time the surfacing gets harder and harder and requires a greater feat of will, kicking and turning and fighting against the undertow … What I fear most is that as the memory gets fainter and fainter that eventually I will just give into it and go under, relieved that I don’t have to struggle anymore, that I can just sink into to this blessed oblivion, give into this siren song of domesticity.
Synopsis: The only child of two famous but self-absorbed artists, Zelda Steele is adopted by her parent’s patrons when she is just a baby. Great things are expected of this privileged young woman, but at twenty-seven Zelda is dead, leaving two young children and a body of work that only hints at her promise. Decades later, Zelda’s daughter Ruth returns to her childhood home to find the diaries her mother is rumoured to have kept. What they reveal takes her on a journey into the past: her mother’s, her grandmothers and, ultimately, her own. Weaving together the narratives of three very different women, living in vastly different times, The Steele Diaries paints a rich and evocative portrait of the Sydney art scene from the thirties to the seventies, and the eternal conflict between motherhood and self.
Know which one you’d choose yet?
I’ll post the reviews on Write Note Reviews when I’ve read the books, but in the meantime, which one would you like? Tell me in 25 words or less, which book appeals to you and I’ll put you in the draw. Entries close on April 14 and because they’re eBooks, anyone can enter … eReader NOT included. Don’t forget to tell me which format you’d prefer if you win – choose from Kindle, epub or pdf.