I’m about to start structural edits on Wherever You Go and I’ve found a strange thing happening as I’m reading lately … I’m struggling to read as a reader because I can’t seem to take my writer hat off. It means I’m reading books and thinking, “Character motivation!”, “Plot trigger!” and so on, instead of simply enjoying. I’m trying to stop that, but it’s hard when the writer hat is wedged on so tight!
Here are a few books I’ve read this past month that I did enjoy just for the sake of reading.
An enjoyable and heartfelt read, The Memories We Hide by Jodi Gibson explores the way present reality can be shaped by past memories for better or worse. When Laura returns to her hometown to care for her dying mother, it stirs up grief of all kinds. All she wants to do is be with her mother to the end and then leave … but life has other plans for her, including the memories she’s built everything on.
A well-written and warm book, with believable characters all carrying their own baggage and protecting themselves the best they can, and plenty of tension driving the story towards an unexpected ending. I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. I’m looking forward to more from Jodi Gibson.
I purchased The Memories We Hide online. Self-published | RRP $3.99 eBook; $19.99 paperback
Mother of Pearl by Angela Savage is a deeply insightful look at family, motherhood, and culture. The story focuses on three women and their dreams: one for a child, one for inner peace and reconciliation, and one for security. Their lives intertwine over the issue of international surrogacy, and the women must tackle tough questions about themselves, about cultural exploitation, and about the judgements they make. Savage handles the issues and the questions with a remarkable lack of judgement, choosing instead to present the story from different sides, showing that life is always found in the shades of grey.
Thank you to Transit Lounge for my review copy. Transit Lounge | RRP $29.99
Kate Furnivall’s The Guardian of Lies is fine historical fiction that leads readers into the heart of post-war France, where trust is never taken for granted and memories are long. There’s a sense of detachment in the writing, with the characters never fully revealing themselves, that echoes the spy-based plot. Expect a fast-paced, intriguing read that cleverly explores themes of duty, love and war, that will keep you guessing.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my review copy. Simon & Schuster UK | $32.99
The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen mixes hope and heartache in a manner that is both surprising and clever. Told in part from point-of-view of Augusta, from her childhood years to adulthood, and in part from the point-of-view of Parfait, a refuge from Burundi, it’s a rewarding slow-burner that beautifully explores the notions of heart and home. There’s laughter and light and there’s despair and darkness as the characters come of age, discovering along the way what it means to be human and alive. My heart ached at the end – in a good way.
Thank you to Harper Collins for my review copy. The Borough Press | RRP $35
Finally, I’d like to share The Burnt Country by Joy Rhoades, which enthralled me with its evocative rural setting and punchy tale of life on the land. The story, which focused on Kate Dowd’s struggles to keep her property after her estranged husband comes skulking back for a share, is an insightful look not only at the challenges of rural life, but how much more difficult it was for a woman to survive in a tough and judgemental environment where divorce was frowned upon and men (and bureaucracy) knew best. Kate’s life is complicated by the threat of fire, the return of her former lover, and the impending return of the Aborigines Welfare Board to swoop up her little half-sister. The story crackles with tension and I really felt Kate’s frustration as she came up against one obstacle after another. All up, it’s a heartwarming and wonderful piece of Australian historical fiction (and the recipes at the back ticked boxes for me!) in which women’s resilience and support shines despite the hardships they face.
This book can be read as a sequel to The Woolgrower’s Companion, but I read it as a standalone and had no problem connecting the dots about the backstory. Click here for the story behind the story.
Thank you to Penguin for my review copy. Bantam Press | RRP $32.99
Other books I’ve read this month include The Paper House by Anna Spargo-Ryan (words that made me want to cry for the story and the way they were used), The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts and Little Gods by Jenny Ackland, and the next book on my list is Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. I’ve had a week of the flu and I’m in need of comfort reading.
What are you reading this week? What’s your go-to comfort read?