Author: Mallee Stanley

Shyam Selvadaurai’s—Mansions of the moon *****

Shyam Selvadaurai’s—Mansions of the moon *****

Yasodhara marries Sidhartha and hopes for a union like her parents, loving and caring, along with the comforts after she moves to her father-in-law’s palace. But Sidhartha’s father, the Raja, has always despised his son because he blames him for the loss of his beloved wife when she gave birth to Sidhartha. Full of hatred, he posts his son as governor to a remote northern village where they are given a small hut, where there is no servant, and Yasodhara must tend to a rice paddy field and vegetable garden, so they have food for the winter. But while Yasodhara soon finds joy in these tasks among the camaraderie of the village women, Sidhartha becomes moody and withdrawn and his interest in the philosophy of the ascetics deepens.

This is a story of The Buddha’s wife and how she tried to hang on to her marriage until her husband finally deserted her and their only son to follow what he termed, the middle path. I have read all of Selvadaurai’s novels and this is by far his best.

Linda Holeman’s — The Moonlit Cage *****

Linda Holeman’s — The Moonlit Cage *****

Darya grows up in an Afghanistan village in the 1850s under an overbearing father. He brings home a second wife who gives him the son he’s always wanted. Before the second wife leaves the family, she curses Darya so no one will marry her.

Eventually, she is married to Shaliq from a Ghilzai tribe whose cruel treatment forces her to flee. This leads to a long and dangerous journey Darya could never have dreamed of. 

Melissa Fu’s—Peach blossom spring *****

Melissa Fu’s—Peach blossom spring *****

In 1930s China, one tragedy after another seems to pursue Meilin. As a young wife she becomes a widow. Then with her four-year-old son, Renshu they are forced to flee the family home when the Japanese army approaches. After weeks of travelling by train, then on foot they arrive at a remote inland town where she believes they’ll be safe. Her brother-in-law and wife join them, but as the days pass, Japanese bomber planes reach their village. When finally the war ends in 1945, they move to Shanghai, until the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek fight for supremacy. Where can they escape to when it seems that their lives are in danger once again?

Geraldine Brooks’—Horse *****

Geraldine Brooks’—Horse *****

When Theo, a Nigerian art historian, removes a painting of a horse from a discarded pile of junk a neighbour has dumped in her front yard, he is unaware of its connection to a Kentucky slave from the 1800s. He takes the painting covered in soot to a restorer where he meets a Smithsonian scientist, Jess who has been studying the bones of the horse she believes is the same one in the painting. Jarret is a slave in the 1850s with a knack with horses. He forms a close bond with a foal after its birth and grooms the horse to race on the insistence of his master, Dr. Warfield. 

What happens to Theo and the painting he has restored? And why did the bones of a horse from more than a hundred years ago end up in storage in a neglected section of Washington’s Smithsonian Museum?

What makes this book an even better read is the author’s meticulous research into many of her real characters and the events that actually happened back in the 1800s.