Good Reading : February 2006
48 goodreading ı FEBRUARY 2006 readers’ reviews Here’s a selection of some of the reviews you sent in to us. Keep them coming to: firstname.lastname@example.org Food, Sex & Money Lost In Transmission Thinly Disguised Autobiography Liz Byrski Macmillan $32.95 Reviewed by Margaret McNally Women of ‘a certain age’ are exciting and empowered in Liz Byrski’s second novel. Wealthy and newly-widowed Bonnie, long-divorced and over- weight food writer Fran, and Sylvia, just separated after a long, loveless marriage, reunite over lunch as 50-plus year olds and embark on a venture of self-discovery. Byrski, an established non- fiction author, fulfilled her childhood wish to write a novel in 2004 with the release of popular Gang of Four. This new novel also has women’s friendships as its central theme. The intricately woven tale affir ms that behind the weathering shield of every woman burns an eter nally youthful spirit. The characters are vulnerable, astute, strong, and sexual until death. The issues of financial security, emotional independence, career, diet, motherhood and sexuality transcend age, making this a relevant, enjoyable read for all women, and for men who seek to understand them. Jonathan Harley Lord Minimus Nick Page James Delingpole Pan Macmillan $22.00 Reviewed by Kate Abbott Bantam $23.95 Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville HarperCollins $19.95 Reviewed by Tony Simmons In 1628, Jeffrey Hudson (aka Lord Minimus) introduced himself at a banquet of the court of Charles I by jumping out of a pie in full ar mour. Here was a tiny man – perfectly proportioned but only 18 inches tall. This book traces his life – an extraordinary tale of splendour and riches, piracy and slavery, war, treachery and intrigue. As a page boy at court, Minimus was celebrated by some of the finest artists of his day. He fell out of windows, jumped out of pies and hid in the pockets of giants. He was kidnapped by pirates twice, killed an opponent in a duel, served as a slave in North Africa and was falsely imprisoned for treason. This knee-high view of seventeenth-century court life is an intriguing, bizarre true story. A mix of social history and biography, it’s a char ming, entertaining and engaging little gem of a book. Jonathan Harley’s voice and image became familiar to ABC listeners and viewers when he reported from South Asia for three years from 1998. His account of that time is no gung-ho tale, but neither does it shirk the detail of that fascinating region. Harley makes no attempt to hide his doubts and insecurities. Neither does he skim over the sheer exhilaration of ‘the story’; what keeps such journalists working day and night in the midst of crisis. He was the only Australian jour nalist in Afghanistan on September 11, 2001; had colleagues perish at the hands of the Taliban; saw the effect of the Nepalese Royal family murders; and spent most of his first year of mar riage alone in the some of the most dangerous parts of the world. A sobering, funny, and utterly human look at the life of a foreign correspondent. From the moment he is accepted into Oxford, Josh Devereux is convinced fame, wealth and social superiority are his destiny. A slave to the Sloane Rangers Handbook, he is desperate to disown his working class background and impress his upper middle class friends. Despite the struggle, Josh is surprisingly likeable and intelligent and somehow muddles through his youth, complete with a creative drug habit and episodes of embar- rassing sex. His unwavering belief that he will one day rise above the pack and be feted as a breathtaking success at something (he doesn’t really care what) is slightly out of balance with his totally slack attitude. He ultimately succumbs to something he is really good at: the party lifestyle of the newspaper social columnist. This is a well-written, humorous account of the rites of passage and coming of age of a young man who believes he is cut out for something finer.
December January 2006