Saturday, December 19, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Publication Date: 2009

Category: Fiction

Who'll want to read it? People with a keen sense of the unusual.

Point of no return: I wanted to read this book because of who wrote it, but even if I hadn't, the first chapter is very captivating.

What's it all about? Robert's girlfriend Elspeth dies, leaving everything except her personal papers to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. Elspeth is herself a twin, although she has not spoken to Edie since her nieces were babies. The conditions of her will state that the girls are to live in her apartment for a year before disposing of it as they wish, and that Edie and her husband Jack are not allowed to enter the apartment at all.

Upstairs from Elspeth's apartment live Martin and Marijke, until Marijke can no longer live with Martin's obsessive compulsive disorder, and leaves him to fend for himself. His OCD won't let him leave the apartment, so he is totally reliant on the Internet, the telephone, and Robert, who lives on the ground floor.

Elspeth, after her death, finds herself back in her apartment, at first just drifting around, but gradually getting stronger. Once the girls have moved in, she begins communicating with them, and with Robert, who still has a key to the flat.

Julia and Valentina have a very close, almost stifling, twin relationship, but their move from America to England puts a strain on this. Julia and Martin develop a close friendship, while Valentina falls for Robert (who reciprocates).

And then things get complicated.

I really didn't like most of the characters in this book, but I was fascinated by their interactions, and their motivations. I still can't figure out if I liked the book itself, but I still class it as a good read, mainly because I am still thinking about it, wondering what happened next.

Edit: I've decided that I DO like it. Robert is very endearing, and I was left with a sense of justice served. This book has generated many conversations between people who have read it, and would make an excellent book club book.

Publisher: Scribner

Monday, December 14, 2009


Author: Alex Miller Publication Date: 2009 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? Readers who enjoy a story told with emotion, compassion, love and tolerance. Also how immigrants and travellers can put down roots in a foreign land and try to carve out a life for themselves through their stubborness, memories, ignorance, customs and hope for a different life or the hope in returning back to the motherland. Point of no return: Before the story starts there is this - I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready! THE SONG OF SOLOMON adjure -to command or enjoin solemnly, as under oath "adjoining her in the name of God to declare the truth" I was also eagerly awaiting Millers next book after" Landscape of Farewell". Classic line: 'Love's never simple. You know that. Dad.' p 8 'We'll have a wonderful life,' he said 'Whatever we do. I just know we will. It doesn't matter what we do' p 74 What's it all about? A small Tunisian cafe called 'Chez Dom' in Paris is a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers at the great, smelly and bloody abattoirs of Vaugirard. The cafe is run by the recently widowed Houria and her young niece Sabiha. It is by chance that John Patterner, a lost Australian traveller seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden storm and so meets Sabiha, and their love story unfolds. Years later John meets Ken, an ageing writer. John confides his story to Ken and what happened to him and Sahiba at Vaugirard. Ken also sees the potential for one last simple love story but is love simple??? Miller has the ability to take you into the human hearts of his characters , their failings, aspirations, desires, fears and misgivings. Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tabby McTat

Author: Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Publication Date: 2009

Category: Children's picture book

Who'll want to read it? Cat lovers - grown ups and children.

Point of no return: The expressions on the faces of the cats on the front cover drew me in.

Classic line: "MEEE-EW and the old guitar, How PURRRR-fectly happy we are."

What's it all about? It's about the adventures of Tabby McTat - a busker's cat - including loneliness, marriage, fatherhood and working out your true direction in life. The illustrations are perfect and it is a wonderful wonderful story. And I'm not even a cat person.

Publisher: Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic Books)