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Book Reviews


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Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

"You never know which split second might be the zigzag bolt dividing all that went before from everything that comes next." (p 359) This is Dellarobia Turnbow, loving mother, discontented wife, misfit in a small Tennessee town of Christian fundamentalists, musing on the possibility of transformat... (continued)
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Canada by Richard Ford

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

This is the first new novel from Richard Ford in six years and having enjoyed his earlier work I was keen to read this one when it landed in store. The novel is told from the point of view of Dell Parsons who, when the novel opens, is about to start at the Great Falls High School where he is int... (continued)
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The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska

Reviewed by Gilliann, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vlae

I've been watching TV footage of election preparation in PNG while reading Drusilla Modjeska's first novel The Mountain. Reality and fiction interweave as the figure of Michael Somare features in the news today and passes through this story that commences with PNG on the verge of independence. T... (continued)
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The Office by Gideon Haigh

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

One of the best things about the humdrum bookseller task of unpacking boxes is the moment when you pick up a new book and everything about it is just fine -from the subject matter, to the design, to the writing and the approach that the author has taken. The Office: A Hardworking History by Gideo... (continued)
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THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONNECT

Reviewed by Pippa

A compelling account of a 6 month experiment of living without TV or digital media for 6 months. A regular columnist for the Weekend Australian, Maushart has a witty and erudite style, incorporating the latest digital media language into her prose with flair. Smart, insightful and very well resea... (continued)
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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books Mona Vale

Somewhere around the beginning of the twentieth century, Susan Cain argues, Americans changed from a "culture of character", where the ideal self was serious, disciplined and private, to a "culture of personality" where people began to focus more on how other people perceived them. This, in Cain'... (continued)
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Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Reviewed by Sarah, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Thirteen year old Conor is woken every night at seven minutes past midnight by a monster outside his bedroom window. Conor has been having the same nightmare every night since his mother started her treatments, but there's a twist - this monster is ancient and wild and has become a part of Conor'... (continued)
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The Paddock by Lilith Norman

Reviewed by Sarah, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

This is a book about Australia and how the land was formed. It describes the land's transformation as animals and humans inhabit and adapt it to suit their needs and like Window by Jeannie Baker there is the same environmental message that there is a cost to development. In this book though the l... (continued)
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Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut

Reviewed by Sarah, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Little Mouse finds a delicious apple and decides to keep it a secret from his friends by burying it in the ground. A beautifully illustrated story aimed at 3-5 year olds, this book teaches us that it's far better to share amongst friends than keep things all to oneself. (continued)
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The Chemistry of Tears

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Opposite the title page of The Chemistry of Tears there is a list of 17 books under the heading "Also by Peter Carey". I've read 15 of them, usually falling on them greedily on the day of publication. In my opinion Carey writers two types of books - great ones and good ones. Parrot and Olivier in... (continued)
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52 Suburbs by Louise Hawson

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Louise Hawson is an inspiring person who, in 2009-2010, produced a blog, that grew into an exhibition and finally blossomed into a beautiful book. Her project was to visit a new Sydney suburb every week for a year and to photograph the people, places and objects that interested her. Her particul... (continued)
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The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

I finally picked up this handsome volume when I realised it was the basis for the new film Hugo, direct by the venerable Martin Scorsese. What a treat was in store! Set in a time between the world wars, the story describes Hugo Cabret's life hidden in the bowels of the Montparnasse railway stati... (continued)
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Autumn Liang by Alex Miller

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

It's 1938 and Pat Donlon is filled with the conviction that he can paint in a wholly new and Australian way. He is contemptuous of local art schools, newly married, extremely poor and ready to risk rejection he asks an art patron for money. Humiliated he finds himself in the office of Arthur Lain... (continued)
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Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books Mona Vale

I know of no other character in Australian fiction who has come so completely and plausibly into our lives as Edith Campbell Berry - the heroine of three Moorhouse novels written in the last 25 years. Journalist Annabel Crabb launched the third instalment in Edith's story dressed as Berry. In hi... (continued)
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The Marriage Plot Jeffrey Eugenides

  It comes weighted with a decade’s worth of anticipation. Yet Jeffrey Eugenides’ third novel comes as light relief, compared to his two earlier works of fiction, ‘Middlesex’ and the ‘Virgin Suicides’. It’s the early 1980’s, and American coll... (continued)
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Scenes from a Provincial Life by J M Coetzee

Reviewed by Berkelouw Newtown

  “Scenes from a Provincial Life” is a collection of Coetzee’s three earlier works – Boyhood, Youth and Summer time. All are memoirs, though the later has been categorised as ‘fiction’ despite its no-less obvious references to the author himself. It begi... (continued)
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The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst

Reviewed by Nicole Mansour, Berkelouw Newtown

  English writer Alan Hollinghurst is often classified as two things: the Henry James of his time, and an acute chronicler of gay experience in London. His latest work, “The Stranger’s Child”, is his first since winning the Booker prize for “The Line of Beauty&rdquo... (continued)
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The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Reviewed by George, Berkelouw Paddington

One of the better reviews I read about The Sisters Brothers (I think it was on the Guardian website) commented on the difficulty of making readers feel true empathy for the characters of a novel. And when your lead characters are two guns-for-hire - one a merciless psychopath, the other a temp... (continued)
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How I Became a Famous Novelist

Reviewed by George, Berkelouw Paddington

"Rule 1: Abandon truth. Rule 2: Write a popular book. Do not waste energy making it a good book. ... Rule 6: Evoke confusing sadness at end. Rule 7: Prose should be 'lyrical'. ... Rule 15: Must have obscure exotic locations. Rule 16: Include plant names." Th... (continued)
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The Shadow Girl

Reviewed by Louise, Dee Why

  This is an incredibly hard-hitting young adult fiction novel. It is the story of a girl who lives life as a shadow after her parents are killed and “Uncle Creepo” makes it too risky for her to stay at home.   The Shadow Girl lives life on the streets, tricks her way int... (continued)