|Jane Austin in Bath|
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) I loved this wonderful story of this American family that is grappling with the xenophobic attitudes of their time. I loved the wise father Atticus and how he tried to bring up his two boys to see past the status quo and to see Negros (as they referred to then) as the same as everyone else. The conversations between father and his children were an honest attempt to help them understand the subtleties and complexities of the injustice in their society. I thought that it challenged prejudice that is part of human nature and reminder to understand people from their point of view.
The Book Thief (Markus Zasak) On the back of my copy of this book, the blurb describes the story being about the power of words to make worlds. How spot on this was!!
So many times during this story I felt so completely part of the story that I wasn’t in sunny Australia any more but in Nazi Germany. Plus a few occasions the story became so moving that I found myself holding the book and stroking it while being in complete awe. Some of the images of the story will stay with you for ages.
I loved how death narrated the story and how it sounded like a bored bureaucrat who hated his job. It is defiantly one story you can't put down!!
The Spare Room (Helen Gardener) This is quite a depressing story which is cantered around two characters – Nicole and Helen. Sydney Sider Nicole has terminal cancer and comes down to Melbourne to stay with Helen in order to attend an alternative treatment facility that charges a fortune but is largely ineffective.
As the story progresses, we see the pressure that Nicole’s inability to accept her own mortality has on the friendship. With Helen having to take on quasi-nursing duties, she begs Nicole to contact the local Palliative Care team but Nicole is desperate to maintain hope in her recovery.
Despite the depressing nature of the story, The Spare Room is a relatively easy read which can be finished in a couple of hours.
A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth) starts and ends with a wedding and in between is a story of an extended family in 1950s India and their lives in this newly formed country. While the ultimate aim of the story is to find a suitable boy for young Leta (who struggles with her own choices of whom to marry) by her overbearing mother, you follow the characters as they engage with politics, campaign for re-election, get into mischief, start a career within a university while starting a family and struggling with health problems. It is about family dynamics as much as it is about finding a suitable boy and what it was like in India during that period.
At 1475 pages long, it’s a large book but it is easy to read. Seth’s vivid writing sometimes makes you feel like you’re there in the story. For example, at the curriculum meeting at the university and the party at Mr Justice Chatterjis’s house with its snippets of conversations that makes you feel like you’re mingling with the guests. I also loved the description of the Performance by Saeeda Bai at Holi (a Hindi (?) religious day) and her relationship with the audience as well as the streets of old Brahmpur.
Don’t get daunted by the size, it is well worth it!!