Good Reading : April 2011
book club books of the month Embark on an investigation with the Danish secret intelligence service or allow Helen Cummings factual account of a deadly husband chill you to the bone. For more questions and discussion ideas for your book club for both Next of Kin and Blood Vows go to www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au and click on ‘Book Clubs’ on the bookmark on the left of the screen. FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH Next of Kin Elsebeth Egholm Pier 9 $29.99 Fear and anxiety have spread to Denmark in the after math of the London bombings. Late one evening, jour nalist Dicte Svendsen receives an anonymous package, addressed to her personally, containing footage of a brutal killing -- a beheading carried out by a figure dressed in black. A wave of anti-immigrant hysteria is unleashed and, as the panic escalates, Dicte finds herself caught up in a Danish secret intelligence investigation -- one that poses uncomfortable questions about freedom of speech and a powerful upsurge in nationalism, in a country struggling to deal with threats beyond and within its borders. Next of Kin is the chilling new political thriller from bestselling European crime writer Elsebeth Egholm, and the first of the incredibly popular 'Dicte Svendsen' series to be available in English. Questions for discussion 1. Next of Kin is set in a volatile social and political climate -- not only in Denmark, but in the rest of the Wester n world. Dicte is a journalist working in the time following the 2007 London ter rorist bombings, where the fear of ter rorism sells newspapers. But this type of reporting also stirs up anti-Muslim sentiment that has an impact on immigrants. What role do you think the media plays in fomenting ter ror? Does the media always have the right to use the argument of freedom of speech? 2. Aziz is the boyfriend of Dicte's daughter, Rose, and is Danish-- Pakistani. He simply wants to complete his police academy studies, to be with Rose and to be treated equally. But every new story about ter rorism results in his being treated differently by his fellow Danes. He is also having trouble within his own community over his relationship with Rose.To what extent could hostility towards immigrants within Wester n countries generate ter rorism? 3. Do you think the social problems between immigrants and Danish people in Next of Kin are similar to the problems experienced in other Wester n countries? NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH Blood Vows Helen Cummings Five Mile Press $32.95 In 1970, a pretty young woman called Helen Cummings married a handsome doctor, Stuart Wynter. But instead of being a marriage made in heaven, it was the start of a hellish existence of spiralling abuse that ended six years later when Helen escaped with her two young children. But it wasn't the end at all, because Dr Wynter remarried.This new wife and her child weren't able to escape -- and Helen wasn't able to help. In this brave memoir, Helen Cummings relates an idyllic childhood growing up in 1960s Australia and looks back on a marriage that nearly killed her and her children. Nowadays Helen is the mother of a famous daughter and the daughter of a famous mother, but she also had to come to ter ms with being the former wife of a murderer, and being powerless to help his victims. Questions for discussion 1. Helen stayed with Stuart for a long time after the violence started -- why did she do this and was she right to leave in the end? What do you make of her decision to visit him on Ocean Island after they had divorced? 2. There are many themes in Helen's story -- domestic violence, family life, isolation, dislocation, climate change, family law -- what do you think they tell us about moder n life? 3. Raken's wedding dress is still in Helen's possession and other possessions never found their way back to her family, who had lived on Banaba Island. According to Helen, there were reasons for this -- what were they and what are their implications? 4. Helen went on to work at the Family Court for many years and became increasingly concerned about its insistence on shared care, even in violent homes. Helen believes she was lucky to leave when she did -- what do you think? The Queen of Clubs or gambler s card represents the great gamble that Peter Lehmann took when founding the Barossa winery in 1979. The Queen now has many faces; each one uniquely modelled to represent the individual style of the wine within. Once you discover the consistent quality and flavours of our Art Series wines, you will see that we have Barossa winemaking down to a fine art. www.peterlehmannwines.com A MIXED DOZEN PETER LEHMANN WINES Write and tell us about what your book club is reading, how your meetings are structured or any events your club has organised for your chance to win a dozen bottles of the ‘Queen of Clubs’ series. Write to ‘Queen of Clubs Promotion’, GPO Box 3835 Sydney NSW 2001, or enter online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au. You must be over 18 to enter this competition.