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General Fiction Reviews

Looking for some General Fiction? Check below for reviews of items that are available in our collections to borrow.

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‘The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club’
by Sophie Green

"Set in the Northern Territory of 1978, 5 very different women meet together for a book club on an isolated cattle station. Sybil, the matriarch of the ranch, begins the book club for her new English daughter in law, Kate, hoping that it will help her feel more at home in the alien Australian outback. Rita is a nurse for the Royal Flying Doctor Service who lives in Darwin. Sallyanne is a mother of three children and, with a disintegrating marriage, soon finds the book club to be a lifeline as she develops treasured friendships. Then we have Della, a Texan who is working on the land seeking to do what she is denied in her home country. Over time we see the characters survive life changing events that only deepens the bonds that have developed over time. I particularly liked the listing of events that greet the beginning of a new year. Come to Fairvale Station and be engaged by these characters and the landscape."

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‘Ayiti’
by Roxane Gay

"Aiyiti is a book of slivers of identity of what it means to be Haitian or Haitian-American. The most compelling short story compilations allow you to slip into the lives of characters who arrive fully realised without requiring an explanation of how they came to be there. Gay sketches her characters as distinct and completely individual while somehow leaving the reader with a sense of something whole, a shared identity deftly expressed in a dozen different lives."

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‘The True Colour of the Sea’
by Robert Drewe

"“Don dropped dead on the sand and that was that...” &dsash; vintage Robert Drewe! I love his writing and have done so since I read Drewe's memoir, Shark Net, 15 years ago (later made into a TV mini series). His latest collection of short stories (11 of them) cover loss, love, desire, family, ageing, humanity and the life of art. The True Colour of the Sea makes for excellent holiday reading."

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‘One’
by Andrew Hutchinson

"A fast paced story which tosses you around as you try to put the jigsaw puzzle of the narrator's story together.

"The narrator has removed himself from family and friends, and we only learn slowly of the reasons why. He works nights, and arriving home one morning he finds a woman asleep in his driveway. Groundhog Day takes over and he and the readers are tossed around reliving events. On each reliving, new information is added and more clarification provided. We learn not to believe what we had thought was happening as the picture is not complete. It was not until the last chapters that my feelings of disquiet were stilled.

"This is a challenging novel but one worth the journey."

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‘City of Friends’
by Joanna Trollope

"Joanna Trollope bases her 19th novel around four high-achieving friends who met when they studied Economics at Univeristy. They are now in their late 40s, and whilst all successful professionally, have different personal circumstances that are causing each of them to question their lives. The only difficulty that I had was that while there was some soul searching for each of the four characters, they were all making decisions whilst being very well-off financially.

"This was an engaging read, that could lead to some lively book club conversations, or just read it for yourself on a wet Sunday afternoon. Fans of Liz Byrski will enjoy."

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‘The Shadow Queen’
by Anne O’Brien

"Joan of Kent, known as the The Fair Maid of Kent, was the mother of King Richard II. This book is an enthralling tale of Joan's life and of her powerful ambitions.

"Joan was born a Plantagenet princess, raised in royal circles, and known for her great beauty. She was a strong willed person, determined to not let being a woman put any limits on her. Her first marriage was at a young age to a knight, Thomas Holland. This was not deemed a suitable match and it was many years before the two could be together. In the meantime, Joan was married to William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury, even though she stated she was already married. Eventually her second marriage was annulled and Joan lived happily with Thomas for many years.

"After the death of Thomas, Joan married Edward, the Prince of Wales. Through this marriage Joan was able to acquire the power she always wanted. She was the Princess of Wales and the Princess of Aquitaine and she learnt how to govern by the side of her husband.

"Her whole life was covered in scandal, many believing she used her beauty to get what she wanted. Joan knew the games she had to play, and the men she had to marry, to achieve her goals. This is a riveting story, with the characters come to life on the page, making the history fascinating. Fans of Philippa Gregory will love Anne O'Brien's books. The author gives a voice to medieval women, those that have many important stories to share."

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‘Another Woman's Husband’
by Gill Paul

"In 1911, 15 year old Mary Kirk meets and befriends Wallis Warfield at a summer camp. Their friendship will be tried and tested through romances, marriages, divorces, death and the scandal that brought the British Royal family to its knees when the King abdicated for the love of Wallis. Ultimately, the friendship is destroyed in an act of betrayal, but who has betrayed who?

"In 1977 Kendall accepts her boyfriend's proposal when visiting Paris. After, they are driving into a Paris tunnel and are first on the scene of a tragic car crash. They realise that it is Princess Diana in the car and later they, like the rest of the world, are rocked by her death. With the British Royal Family again brought to its knees, Kendall discovers a link between Diana and Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor.

"A beautifully constructed and carefully researched novel of women haunted by love and loss."

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‘Landscape of Farewell’
by Alex Miller

"Max Otto is an elderly German academic who believes, since the death of his wife, that his life is over, and he will now never write the history of his life's work. When, at his valedictory lecture, he is challenged by a feisty young Australian Aboriginal professor, Vita McClelland, a friendship develops. Max travels to Australia and meets Vita's uncle, Dougald Gnapun, an Aboriginal elder.

"Miller's hauntingly beautiful prose weaves Max's story with Dougald's, as it explores memories and desires, exile and friendship."

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‘Dear Mr M’
by Herman Koch

"A formidable author with an uncanny ability to observe and describe detail, Herman Koch's suspense novel tells a dark tale about a writer whose career is almost over, a teenage couple, a history teacher who goes missing, and a skillful plot connecting all three. With an unexpected twist at the end it will keep you reading to the last."

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‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’
by Natasha Pulley

"This book is a constantly shifting thing. Every time you think you have the shape of it, it curves, like watching a stick tumble along a stream, bouncing along in unexpected currents and down forks you never see until it veers off along them. The narrative runs smoothly and gently, while underneath a powerful struggle of fate, manipulation, and personal agency is taking place between an ordinary young man, a brilliant scientist, and a watchmaker. Everything swirls around a master manipulator who appears for all the world to be benign, but with the capacity to be very, very dangerous."

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‘Gather the Daughters’
by Jennie Melamed

"Gather the Daughters is an example of a book with something to say but no real resolution. Drawing comparisons with ‘The Handmaid's Tale’ is irresistible as it is the story of the multitude of ways that women and girls are abused in a highly insular and patriarchal society and their rebellions in ways both small and large. As soon as the girls begin to resist the social order starts to crumble.

"This is not one of the many books of the genre where a teenage girl realises that she exists in a repressive society and decides to do something about it by starting the revolution. Instead, while the male authorities struggle to tighten their grip with increasing desperation, the girls find their own versions of freedom, individual and bittersweet with the narrowing choices available to them. Initially I was left unsatisfied by this book as I realised that it would not follow the traditional redemptive victory arc, but as I thought about it I decided that it took a more interesting turn, allowing that sometimes small escapes mean everything and the only power you have is over your own destiny and to take your choices over the body that you have left. This was a thought-provoking book, unusual and disturbing.

"Please note that this book contains descriptions of child and spousal abuse as well as animal cruelty that could be distressing to some readers."

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‘Let the Games Begin’
by Niccolò Ammaniti

"A batty satire on the delusions that come with fragile masculinity, ‘Let the Games Begin’ frames the story of two men: one struggling to find a sense of consequence in his own life through his leadership of a rather dire Satanist sect and the other who requires constant reinforcement of the belief that he is, in fact, the greatest Italian writer of the age. While this is well written, engaging and funny, I spent most of the novel with the strongest feeling of recognition. I felt like I'd read this before, or something similar but never quite managed to put my finger on the resemblance. The book builds with a sense of anticipation of disaster before veering off into a bizarre and chaotic climax. While this feels disjointed from the rest of the story ‐ demanding narrative flow from chaos may be unreasonable. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of the work of Nick Harkaway."

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‘Perfect Little World’
by Kevin Wilson

"This is a surprisingly sweet book about a social experiment in communal child rearing. Ten children and their parents are brought together for a decade long experiment on what happens when every child has not 2 but 19 parents. This book had an interesting premise, although not as fully explored as it might have been, it was a really good read. This book left me feeling that although it was a complete story in itself, at the same time I couldn't stop thinking about all the roads not taken ‐ almost as though it has re-written itself in my mind as a choose your own adventure novel."

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‘Dare Me’
by Megan Abbott

"‘Dare Me’ is a stunning new novel by Megan Abbott, its dark tension twisting around the lives of its characters as they struggle against a fate that feels both inevitable and just out of reach. The lives, rivalries and jealousies of teenage cheerleaders and their relationship with the new coach may seem like a clichéd and bubblegum topic for a novel, but ‘Dare Me’ is something sharp and original where the cheers fade into a sense of menacing unease and new stunts become dangerous psychological games. Abbott's background in noir fiction is ever present with a combination of beautifully, elegantly constructed prose conjuring vivid imagery and characters both vulnerable and complex. Abbott's writing is dark and gorgeous, enveloping you in an unsettling thriller that will leave you quite simply floored."

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‘The Golden Age’
by Joan London

"The Golden Age is not a reference to a memorable time past, but rather the name of a pub in Leederville Western Australia, converted in the late 1940s to a children's convalescent home for victims of polio.

"It's a story of compassion, care, resilience and hope.

"The children, with the staff, form a large and affectionate family. Their withered limbs and calipers only become evident as differences when they return for brief periods to their families, and comparisons are made with healthy siblings.

"It's a story which includes the struggle of a Hungarian migrant family to adapt to climate, language and cultural changes; their efforts to make connections, embrace all the differences and put down roots in a new land.

"It's the story of a strong emotional relationship formed by their son Frank, a 14 year old patient, with a fellow patient Elsa. It's this relationship that irrevocably changes all the lives of this special community."

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‘The Invention of Fire’
by Bruce Holsinger

"This historical novel set in 14th Century England weaves the sights, sounds and smells of life in medieval times around a conspiracy set to change the course of warfare forever. This book is made by its meticulously researched detail, bringing the tale to life as the threat of war and political intrigue swirl around sixteen mysterious bodies that have been found in a sewer. In the midst of it all John Gower seeks to unravel the strange threads, forced to balance the claims of the dead to justice with the uncertain future of the kingdom of Richard II. ‘The Invention of Fire’ is the kind of novel that places a value on historical accuracy without becoming impenetrable &dsash; an entertaining and highly enjoyable read for those with a taste for history."

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‘The Last Painting of Sara de Vos’
by Dominic Smith

"The Last Painting of Sara de Vos takes place over three distinct eras ‐ 17th century Netherlands, 1950s New York City and Sydney in the year 2000. The book deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape painting by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. This is a highly enjoyable literary page turner that has a bit of something for everyone. Highly recommended."

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‘Southern Ruby’
by Belinda Alexandra

"What an enjoyable read. I loved this book. The story starts off in current time Australia with the main character, Amanda, who has ties in New Orleans. Southern Ruby moves between different time periods, modern day and middle century 1900's in New Orleans..architecture of New Orleans. A story that captures love, murder, history, with elements of surprise and twists that will keep you wondering until the end. Highly recommended."

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‘The Nix’
by Nathan Hill

&quo;I really enjoyed The Nix, and although it was maybe a smidge too long, as if the author started writing it and then couldn't figure out how to stop, the ending was charming enough to make me glad I stuck with it. It's a sprawling, wandering novel switching perspectives and points in time, constantly shifting like a lens coming in and out of focus. This book requires a little patience. It is an epic saga of ordinary people wishing they were something more, and at times their uncertainty soaks into the plot and you feel frustrated with them, willing them to figure out what it is that they want and just when you want to shake them there will be another little gem of wry humour that sparkles against the obscure background and breaks the tension. The Nix will not be for everyone but it's already got a spot in my top books for 2017."

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‘Rivers of London’
by Ben Aaronovitch

"Rivers of London is the first book in the Peter Grant mystery series which somehow successfully combines an entirely realistic setting of the unglamorous world of modern day policing with another world full of gods, ghosts and magic.

"One night, during an unremarkable assignment guarding a crime scene, PC Grant finds himself interviewing an eye witness who is also a ghost. While the case begins to take on a supernatural flavour, there's nothing to say that good old fashioned police work can't apply just as well to the magical world as to the world of science and reason. Aaronovitch has blended two apparently opposing worlds in a way that not many writers achieve, developing well realised and distinctive characters as well as a fully grounded and unromanticised police procedural setting that oddly compliments the magical aspects rather than clashing with them. Book six in the series has just been released so if you're not already on board, go back to the start and enjoy this offbeat, original series from the beginning."

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‘The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire’
by Rod Duncan

"First of all, I didn't mean to review a whole series, that was accidental. I picked up one of the books in the library not entirely sure that I was interested enough to read more than a chapter or two and by the end of the week I'd read all three books and was Googling Rod Duncan to see if he'd written any more.

"These books are alternative history where technological progress has been held back by an all-powerful Patent Office that can confiscate new discoveries for the good of society. Elizabeth Barnabus is a fugitive and private eye, operating under a fictional alter ego created in her former life in a travelling circus where she became adept in illusion and the arts of concealment. Elizabeth is determined to uncover the secrets of the Patent Office for the world to see, pay off her houseboat, escape the clutches of the Duke of Northampton, outwit a megalomaniac with a mysterious contraption who wants to live forever, plan a heist with circus folk who have only recently stopped trying to kill her and rescue the young men who just can't seem to help getting kidnapped while trying to help. If that sounds like there's a lot going on even for three books, yes there is. The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series is at its heart a ripping yarn which I absolutely recommend if you have a spare week that you didn't need for anything else."

View 'Unseemly Science' in Catalogue

‘Black British’
by Hebe de Souza

"‘Black British&rsqou; is an interesting read, depicting life as an affluent Indian family under the Raj in the 1960's. These families were known as ‘Black British’ due to the use of the English language and customs. Once the British left India, these families were living in fear for their lives. ‘Black British’ is really a wonderful read and it's interesting to learn how life was from this side. I can highly recommend the book and hope you do too. It was insightful to read from the ‘Black British’ perspective."

Not in catalogue. Suggest Item for Purchase

‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’
by Toni Jordan

"Who knew that leafy Eltham in Melbourne's east could be such a hotbed for marital disharmony, secret rendezvous with neighbours, and secret weekend trips to Noosa.

"Melbourne based writer&omma; Toni Jordan's weekend in the life of Henry and Caroline, their neighbours Craig and Lesley, and Caroline's sister Janice is a modern day farce that is a great weekend read. Whist it feels like at times that there are one or two scenarios and characters that aren't needed (such as a lusty pizza delivery boy), suspend your belief that these characters could actually behave in this manner and get away with it, and enjoy Jordan's wit and comic timing. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a fun read set in our home town."

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‘The Lost Swimmer’
by Ann Turner

"This book made me want to book a holiday in Europe! Set on the west coast of Victoria, Athens, the Amalfi Coast and Paris, it's an evocative story rich with scenic detail. Rebecca and Stephen are university professors at the fictional Coastal University in Victoria. As a distraction to accusations of fraud and Bec's suspicion that Stephen is having an affair, they book a holiday touring favourite sites in Greece, Italy and France. But then Stephen disappears... and the finger is pointed at Rebecca. What starts as a relaxed and leisurely story set in idyllic locations, ends in a frantic haze of suspense. Well worth a read."

Title no longer available. See more by Ann Turner.

‘A Wilderness Station: Selected stories, 1968‐1994’
by Alice Munro

"Looking for a quick read, something to pick up and put down during my meal breaks, I found on the Library's display shelf A wilderness station: selected stories, 1968‐1994 by Alice Munro. It draws on Alice Munro's seven collections ‐ the work of almost thirty years. It's a time machine. Munro takes you places. When she writes about the deep South during the Depression years, you are there in that place and time. Her characters are so beautifully drawn, her observations insightful and her stories complex and compelling. Munro (b.1931) is a Canadian writer who has dedicated her literary career almost exclusively to the short story genre. Her themes centre on family and personal relationship conflicts."

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‘One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories’
by B.J. Novak

"This collection of short stories from the man who wrote a picture book with no pictures was always going to be strange and cleverly done. The stories are funny and surprising, but overall the feeling that lingers is that they are very gentle. Novak resists the urge, common in short story writing, to push his characters towards caricature for easy laughs. It is this light touch and thoughtful approach that make these stories so charming, with the kind of beautifully crafted simplicity that is very difficult to do well."

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‘Eligible’
by Curtis Sittenfeld

"What a hoot! A modern revisit of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with the Bennett family's dramas set in Cincinnati ‐ which apparently conveys the American equivalent of a backwater town ‐ and the usual suspects spinning around them. Liz and Jane, now in their 40's and almost ‘over the hill’, have come home from New York to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, and to contemplate their younger sisters carefree life of lattes, gym, and in Mary's case three Masters degrees.

"Warning: this is not a genteel remake, as it is solidly landed in a modern world of reality TV, mobile phones and casual ‘encounters’, but eligible, single men are apparently still proud, prejudiced and tough to find!

&quo;The strain of perceived social improprieties that require Mrs. Bennett to take to her bed for days on end are still the norm ‐ although it's not the traditional intemperate rogue that's the problem."

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‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’
by Cynthia Hand
YOUNG ADULT COLLECTION

"What a riveting read. Lex is in her final year of school, hanging out with her nerd friends and getting over her parent's divorce when her brother kills himself. And this story is about what happens next. Lex is on a rollercoaster with the pressures of school, friends, her ex-boyfriend, her parents and now she's seeing Tyler's ghost. Is she crazy? Is she guilty? Or perhaps there's something that Tyler wants her to do, not that she believes in ghosts. I loved this book, it's not a huge tear-jerker which is a bit of a surprise when you think about it, but it's really real. The character Lex is wonderful, she doesn't accept pity, she just keeps on going even when she's having trouble breathing. This is a book about bravery, and I think you'll love it like I did."

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‘Life on the Refrigerator Door: A novel in notes’
by Alice Kuipers
YOUNG ADULT COLLECTION

"An interesting concept ‐ a story told purely though notes left for each other on the refrigerator door. Fifteen year old Claire and her obstetrician mum live in the same house, but life is so busy with school, work and friends that they are almost living separate lives ‐ hence the almost daily messages they leave for each other. Emotional, funny and heart-warming, this is a very quick read that is sure to reflect on your own life in some way."

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