Sweet Old World by Deborah Robertson is told from the point of view of David who has found himself on an Irish island, living alone when he is at a time of life when he wants his own family. He has come to the island because his sister’s marriage has broken up, she has three young boys, is running a guest house and needed David’s help and investment. David is happy to do it, and he adores his nephews but is wondering why a family of his own hasn’t happened. A chance meeting with a young woman who is travelling alone and who has an accident presents an unusual situation. Because she is alone and in a coma, David feels the need to stay by her bedside until her mother arrives. When the mother does arrive, she is suspicious of his motives, suspecting an inappropriate relationship between her daughter and David. She is wrong, but the thought lingers, even as her own relationship with David develops.
There are some lovely tender moments between David and his nephews and the depiction of an angry exhausted mother trying to do her best for her boys is well done. The relationships are all a bit messy, as many really are, and the ending isn’t a ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after solution, and it is all the more realistic for it. A book that makes you feel involved in the characters lives. I enjoyed it.
The author dropped into the shop a few days ago, and so we have a pile of signed copies. Come in and grab one soon. Paperback, $32.95
It’s quite a few years since Carrie Tiffany wrote her first book which was a best seller at the time. It was called Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and was about a train that travelled in country Victoria with ‘experts’ in fields as varied as housekeeping, child rearing and all manner of agricultural pursuits. It was partly based on a real story of the ‘Better living train’ which actually toured country Victoria in the 1930′s. The book was terrific.
Her new book is again set in the country and is about lust, loneliness and the constrictions of living in a small country town. Betty is a single mother with two children Michael and Hazel. Harry is a dairy farmer who quietly lusts after Betty and tries to become a father figure to Michael in particular in relation to females. Harry was a very naive man when it came to sexual matters, and he doesn’t want that to happen to Michael. I laughed out loud at one of Harry’s snippets of advice about the need to cut one’s toenails before any sexual activity. I won’t spoil the line but it’s a gem. The rhythms of country life and the harshness of it are part of the book and in some ways I was reminded of Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears. Both books take us to a time and place in Australia’s history that most of us never experience. A life which can be unforgiving, but which has it’s own joys.
Carrie Tiffany doesn’t waste words so the book is short. Short but perfectly formed. Highly recommended. Excellent for book groups. $20
This year I am taking the Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge. I am going in as a dabbler meaning I will be reading in more than one genre, and at the Franklin-Fantastic level which means reading 10 books. The aim is to raise the profile and level of reviewing books written by Australian women. I’m working on the list of books I’m going to read and review on this blog and I’m also going to be catching up with some classics that I’ve somehow missed reading. All in all, lots of books and lots of reading coming up. I’ve already started, and my first book written by an Australian women to be reviewed is Kirsten Tranter’s A common loss. My first classic for the year was Frankenstein. More on both later. I’m looking forward to it