The Tides are a family with some secrets which during the course of the book are revealed. It’s a slow reveal, and there are some surprises in store. At different times I was a bit concerned that the book was going to go too far with the pulling of heart strings, but never fear, the issues are dealt with very well.
Secrets of the tides covers quite a lot of territory, but it is all around guilt and the causes of that guilt. Two sisters are the main characters, Dora who is pregnant, in a happy relationship, but not quite allowing herself to feel she deserves such happiness because of an incident during childhood. Dora feels her mother has never forgiven her for it, and the ramifications lead to Dora’s sister, Cassie leaving home and shutting herself off from the rest of the family, and for the most part, the world.
The background is a fractious relationship between the girls’ parents who have had trouble dealing with the tragedy. Before that had happened however, there were already difficulties between them. One of the main causes of that is the house they live in, which carries the burden of the husband’s family history. Again, secrets are involved.
I don’t want to give away the plot, but be assured, you will want to keep reading, to find out what happened, and what happens next.
Secrets of the Tides is a debut novel, but it shows a lot of depth, and the writing is very good. This would be a good book group choice.
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
The prolific Sulari Gentill has published three books about Rowland Sinclair in the last two years, as well as some books for young adults. I admire her productivity as well as her books.
Rowland Sinclair is the youngest son of a pastoral family living in New South Wales. It’s 1933 and the Great War still casts it’s shadow over his family with his brother Aubrey being a casualty and his mother never having gotten over it. But without his older brother taking responsibility for the family enterprises, Rowland is free to pursue his artistic pursuits and keep rather raffish company. His brother Wilfred gruffly disapproves of Rowland’s activities and friends which cause friction between them. The books are ostensibly a crime series but in the Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books style. That is with great attention to detail and considerable research into the period settings. Each chapter has at the start an excerpt from a newspaper of the time, which is relevant to the story.
In this latest book, Rowland, when he isn’t being pursued by thugs, is dispatched by his brother to look for their long serving aboriginal head stockman who has disappeared. The other stockman claim he just went walkabout ‘as his sort does’ but neither Wilfred or Rowland are convinced of that. Rowland’s friends aid him in the search and some rough and tumble adventures ensue.
The first book in the series, A Few Right Thinking Men introduced the character and was set in the politics of the time. The second book A Decline in Prophets was partly set on a luxury cruise liner and involved lots of bodies and the Theosophist Society. The covers of the books are lovely sepia photos or line drawings which fit perfectly with the feel of the stories
The research into the times is there, but with a light touch in all of the books and for an easy but interesting crime read, Sulari Gentill’s books are very good. The latest book is $30, the earlier two are $23
After Kirsten Tranter’s first book was on the long list of the Miles Franklin Prize but didn’t make it to the short list, there was a lot of talk about the state of writing by women in Australia. That is, that there is a lot of writing but not so much review coverage or prize winning by women. Kirsten’s book wasn’t the only book effected, but it helped get the ball rolling in starting the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Many people have signed up to read and review lots of books written by Australian women this year, and this is my second blog to that end.
Kirsten Tranter’s new book is A Common Loss. It is about a group of five men who met at University and who in the years since, meet each other for a trip to Las Vegas. (I can’t imagine wanting to go to Las Vegas more than once personally, but that’s me!) This year the group are going again, but it’s different because one of their number has died. As well as this, a member has decided to bring his girlfriend on the trip. The dynamics are completely different and some of the group wonder why they are there. It becomes obvious that Dylan, the man who has died, was often the buffer between some of the others, and without him, tensions develop. To complicate matters, Dylan has given his brother information about all the group, information that none of them want revealed.
The group all question just what sort of friend Dylan was, and if they knew him at all. All of the characters are believable and It is an engrossing look at friendship and how alliances move and change. It would be a good book for discussion. $30
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