Category: Australia and New Zealand 5 out of 5s

Kimberly Freeman’s — Ember Island

Kimberly Freeman’s — Ember Island

Tilly, living in the 19thcentury and Nina, living in the 21stcentury are both connected to Nell Holt. After the death of her grandfather and a disasterous short marriage, Tilly takes the first available boat out of England to Australia. She is employed as a governess to Nell on Amber Island — a Moreton Bay island where prisoners are jailed. But Nell keeps memories of her haunting past close to her chest until an error of judgement forces her to expose her past.

Nina’s great-grandmother was Nell. She’s a successful author struggling with her forth novel. She holds a secret that’s about to be exposed by a scathing journalist.

Can both women survive their past?

Equally as good is Freeman’s Lighthouse Bay (another 5 out of 5).

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Kimberley Freeman’s — Wildflower Hill *****

Kimberley Freeman’s — Wildflower Hill *****

After Emma, a talented ballerina, damages her knee and her career is ruined, she leaves London and returns to Australia where she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death and her inheritance — Wildflower Hill. Emma heads to the property that was once a prosperous sheep station, where she discovers her grandmother’s possessions packed away in boxes. As she sorts through each box, she uncovers the mystery of her grandmother’s past and a new beginning for herself.

Colleen McCullough’s — The independence of Miss Mary Bennett *****

Colleen McCullough’s — The independence of Miss Mary Bennett *****

I remember Mary as the Bennett sister who couldn’t sing, but twenty years on from the end of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary’s life continues. In her desperation for independence, she investigates the plight of the English poor only to find herself in danger.

I wasn’t expecting this to be an engaging tale, but I should have known better because this Australian author has never disappointed me. A book I couldn’t put down when I needed a light read.

Kate Morton mysteries *****

Kate Morton mysteries *****

If you’re curious about why a child was abandoned on the dock in a foreign country, or want to know why the person a character trusts more than anyone commits a horrendous crime, then Kate Moreton’s the author for you.

The Secret Keeper, Forgotten Garden and House at Riverton were all gripping novels I couldn’t put down. Not only were they well written, but I was hooked right till the unpredictable ends of all three.

Timothy Bottoms’ — Conspiracy of Silence *****

Timothy Bottoms’ — Conspiracy of Silence *****

This is a history of Queensland’s early European settlement that I was never taught. The novel documents an era during the 1800s when pastoralists claimed millions of hectares of Queensland’s interior for cattle and sheep grazing. When Aborigines objected, speared a sheep or approached waterholes they’d used for thousands of years, graziers either demanded the native police “disperse” the Aborigines or killed most of the tribe themselves.

This is a difficult truth, revealing massacre after massacre of thousands of Aborigines perpetrated by white settlers and/or native police while the state government turned a blind eye because many of the government officials had vested interests in the grazier properties.

A must read for those who don’t want a glossed over version of history.

Elena Ferrante’s — My brilliant friend *****

Elena Ferrante’s — My brilliant friend *****

From childhood, Elena and Lina are friends. Throughout the 1950s, they know nothing of Naples, the city they live in beyond the impoverished suburb they inhabit. Elena struggles to be first in class, but realises she will always be second to Lina. When they reach adolescence, their lives take different directions, but will either of them be able to escape into a different life from their deprived mothers?

This is a compelling step into the Italian mentality of the times, from the limited lives of the women to the overbearing macho mentality of the men who frequently react with violence.

Richard Flanagan’s — Death of a river guide *****

Richard Flanagan’s — Death of a river guide *****

Alijaz is a river guide on the only remaining Tasmanian River that has not been dammed, the Franklin. In an attempt to save a tourist who’s fallen into the river, Alijaz gets trapped in the rapids. While he is trapped, his dreams take him on an unforgettable journey.

Beautifully written, I didn’t want this story to end while at the same time, hoped Alijaz would survive.