Good Reading : October 2010
The Privileges Jonathan Dee Everyone knows a couple like Adam and Cynthia -- bright, funny nd seemingly indestructible together, they light up the lives of those around them. The Privileges is an account of their lives, their family and the unstoppable march of time. The novel's first chapter is not far from being an epic in itself. Focusing on Adam and Cynthia's wedding, Dee constantly shifts our attention from one character to the next, which builds depth into the story very quickly. The Privileges offers something for everyone: the constant tension of parenting, the challenge of dealing with one's own parents, and the allure of limitless wealth. Adam and Cynthia embody all these issues and both strive, entertainingly, throughout the novel to maintain their youthful attitudes, with varying levels of success. Jonathan Dee has created a very strong work in The Privileges. The only drawback is that huge chunks of time are missing between chapters; it was a little frustrating having to constantly re-orient myself at the start of each chapter. But Dee's characters have depth and are perfect representations of the society from which they emerge. The Privileges is an excellent snapshot of what it means to be part of a family, and will no doubt become Jonathan Dee's most celebrated work yet. ★★★ Constable & Robinson $29.99 Reviewed by Laura Gale Outside the Ordinary World Dori Ostermiller Dori Oster miller's debut novel is for anyone who enjoys escaping into a good family drama -- particularly one to rival your own. Sylvia Sandon is a landscape painter and teacher whose career is on the slide. As a child, she kept a secret that she knew could tear her family apart. Her mother was having an affair, and no matter how many times they moved, her mother's friend would always find them. Now Sylvia herself is married with two daughters. But the marriage is dull, and she keeps a distance from the mother who made her carry the burden of a painful secret. However, as the tedium of her unfulfilling mar riage sets in, Sylvia is tested. She meets Tai, the father of one of her students, and he offers her an escape from her regular life. She also finds herself seeking out the mother she once recoiled from to ask questions about the past. This is a well-written novel, and although the themes of family and infidelity are well traversed, the author manages to keep the story from becoming tired or too predictable. For instance, the family is religious and this backdrop delivers a more unusual dimension. My one criticism is that it became a little dull in places and I found myself skipping ahead to see what happens next, but overall it was a good read. ★★★ Mira $32.99 Reviewed by Alexandra Irving The Last Letter from Your Lover ojo Moyes Ellie Haworth is a young, successful jour nalist who has few responsibilities. She's in a relationship with a mar ried man, lives alone and doesn't appear to have any family commitments. When her editor gives her the task of going through the archives to write a story on everyday life in the 1960s, she finds a love letter that leads her to question what is really important in life. The love letter introduces us to the doomed affair of Jennifer Sterling and Anthony O'Hare. Jennifer is a wealthy socialite trapped in a loveless mar riage and Anthony a foreign cor respondent -- previously based in Africa -- with a drinking problem. They meet and cannot keep away from each other despite the complexities of their separate lives. The intense and forbidden relationship between Anthony and Jennifer makes Ellie aware that although she is also having an illicit affair, the similarities between the relationships end there. Jennifer and Anthony don't always handle their affair well but they are completely open with one another about their love. Ellie begins to realise that being the 'other woman' isn't what she really wants for herself and that there are some 'old-fashioned' values that should be appreciated. It's easy to see why Jojo Moyes is so popular; she brings something unique to the age-old tale of reunited long-lost lovers, creates genuine and likeable characters and retur ns order and happiness to the lives she throws into chaos -- without a cliché in sight. The Last Letter from Your Lover would be the perfect start to summer reading, so put it near the top of your list for a day at the beach. ★★★★ Hodder $32.99 Reviewed by Melissa Wilson general fiction word of mouth ISBN: 9781 921 361 746 • HB This stunning photographic journey goes straight to the heart of Bhutan – its culture, history and breathtaking Himalayan landscapes.