Good Reading : August 2011
GOOD READING AUGUST 2011 9 READERS’ LIFE 1 WHAT YOU’RE READING Here’s a selection of what gr readers have been reading ... Moira Neagle, Millicent SA Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks Geraldine Brooks’s latest novel is set in the 1660s and is situated in the new Protestant settlement on the east coast of North America. Focusing on the impact of the colonisers on the Native American population, the novel is also about the friendship between a young Native American man and a white girl, and of the nar row role for women in this strictly religious colonial community. Bethia, a young Pur itan woman, and her secret Native Amer ican friend, Caleb, live on the island of what is now known as Martha’s Vineyard. Both of them love to learn. Caleb sees learning as an opportunity to save his people from colonial decimation. Bethia is naturally curious and intelligent, but because she is female she has been denied the education that is considered the birthright of males – even dull-witted males, such as her brother, Makepeace. Bethia’s father, a Calvinist minister, is committed to converting the local Wampanoag people to his own brand of rigid faith. But the local medicine man is strongly opposed to any Christianising influence. Caleb becomes a symbol of this struggle between the indigenous way of life and that of the newcomers. In the later stages of the book the nar rative tends to taper out and dwindle into a mere tidying up of loose ends. But Brooks is always worth a read, and the story illuminates a small part of history with its well-drawn characters. Fourth Estate $32.99 Michele Coombridge, Kristin School Library and Information Centre, Albany, New Zealand Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes This book ended up being such a hit on the family camping holiday that I had to wait until my son and daughter had both read it before I was allowed to read it. The cover picture captured something reminiscent of ‘The Famous Five’ adventures, and, confirming this first impression, author Ali Sparkes has done a wonderful job of recreating the magic of truly adventurous school holiday breaks without parental supervision. In Frozen in Time, Ben and Rachel live in the 21st century, but they make a discovery in their back garden that brings them face to face with Freddy and Polly, who have stepped r ight out of 1956. An unsolved mystery surrounding the lives of Freddy and Polly leads them to believe they are in g reat danger, should anyone come to know about their discovery.The plot moves quickly with plenty of action and excitement and suspenseful chapter endings. Frozen in Time is a great story and would make a wonderful read-aloud in the classroom. HarperCollins $13.95 Age guide 9+ Katia Iervasi, Pagewood NSW Dolci Di Love by Sarah-Kate Lynch The workaholic Lily is forced to pause when she finds out that her ‘perfect’ husband has a secret second family.To add salt to the wound it turns out that Lily is infertile, and she unravels as she realises that this is the family she never had with Daniel. Shake the salt shaker a little more, and we find out that the family lives amid the rolling hills of Tuscany. Lily books a ticket to Tuscany to confront her wayward husband.When she arrives, the Tuscan hills serve as a stunning backdrop to her search for the truth. Before finding Daniel, Lily accidentally meets his daughter and mistress, and finds out that things are much more complicated than she first thought. A g roup of eccentric old widows find out about Lily’s broken heart and scheme to set her up with a handsome local, Alessandro. Lily’s fertility struggles add a poignant touch to this otherwise witty, lighthearted read. The characters are very entertaining and easy to relate to, and Lynch has done a great job with intermingling comedy with Lily’s bittersweet story.The ending is clumsy and a little unrealistic, but overall it’s a good read. Pick this book up if you’re desperately dreaming of a holiday. HarperCollins $29.99 Tracey Allen, South Melbourne Vic What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz Dean Koontz has combined his signature ghostly touch with elements of the crime genre to create What the Night Knows. Detective John Calvino lives in a luxurious house with his wife and three children. John hears about a murderer who slays an entire family, and when he recognises similarities between these murders and killings committed many years in the past he tries to investigate this new case – although it hasn’t been assigned to him. These latest murders seem remarkably similar to the slaying of his own family members when he was just a teenager. The more John investigates, the more he begins to fear for the safety of his wife and children. My favour ite chapters were those that followed the reactions of the three children to the first signs that something weird was going on in the house. The story was more enjoyable from their perspective than from John’s, and I would like to have spent more time with the children. Anyone who likes a thriller with a supernatural element will like What the Night Knows. HarperCollins $19.99 she arrives, the Tuscan hills serve as a stunning backdrop to her search for the truth.