Good Reading : April 2008
APRIL 2008 ı goodreading 37 biography / memoir word of mouth The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement Virginia Lloyd Homes reflect our per- sonalities. They mir ror our likes and dislikes, act as a refuge and bear witness to our most personal moments. When Virginia Lloyd lost her husband to cancer, her home, badly affected by rising damp, grieved alongside her. As she watched her house dry from the inside out, its walls rendered, painted and transfor med, she also watched herself move from a grieving widow to becoming a stronger woman with her own future to paint. The jour ney through grief is universal: one doesn’t need to have lost a partner to gain insight from the book’s pages and such complex, conflicting emotions will resonate with anyone who has suffered a loss. Yet, this memoir is about so much more. It’s about love. A reminder of the simple joys n life: a cup of tea made with ove, moments shared over food nd wine, the feeling of being ome in the ar ms of some- ne you love. The bittersweet ony is that Virginia and her husband John experienced this clarity because John was ter minally ill from the time they met. There was no time to waste. This book’s power lies in its gentle reminder that we should all live this way; that at the end of your days to have loved and be loved is the greatest achievement of all. ★★★★ University of Queensland Press $32.95 Reviewed by Germaine Leece Still No Fixed Address Jackie Hartnell After the death of her husband, naturalised Australian Jackie Hartnell began to travel the world, sometimes alone, sometimes with her sister Naomi. She divides her time between travelling and writing – which is a pity, as the prose never rises above the ‘what I did on my holidays’ level and the word ‘pedestrian’ springs immediately to mind. Here she is on York Minster: ‘I attend evensong in the minster – truly beautiful and it sounds wonderful in that setting.’ On Córdoba, Spain, during the Fiesta de Patios: ‘The affluence of the area which we visit affects the quality and quantity of patio decorations used, but not the enthusiasm or pride with which they are shown.’There are far too many boring details about amenities and prices of hotels (the writer is on a constant budget) and the descriptions of people and places are ho-hum. Hartnell’s book covers visits to England, Spain, Norway, Cambodia, Vietnam and other countries, but I’m afraid I didn’t get beyond Norway. Jackie Hartnell is obviously very nice but unless you know her personally it’s hard to be interested in this bog-standard jour nal of her travels. Lovely lady, boring book. ★ Pier 9 $26.95 Reviewed by Roz Everett La Vie Parisienne Janelle McCulloch If you’re not plum tuckered out with things Parisienne by now – the recent proliferation of films, songs and books devoted to the City of Light is nothing short of astonishing – you could do worse than read Australian expat journalist Janelle McCulloch’s reminiscences of the year she spent living in a tiny apartment in the très chic 6th ar rondissement. McCulloch has been a ‘lifestyle’ jour nalist for some years, so it’s fitting that her book devotes itself mainly to style rather than substance, from the labyrinthine traps for the unwary hidden in a simple Parisienne dinner party (as she describes it, ‘full of potholes of faux pas’) to the cutting edge design of modern hotels, alleries and restaurants. Even McCulloch has to admit that cutting edge design can just eacuttoomuch’asshe aments the demise of yet another quirky, old-fashioned, cluttered establishment. But she drools over the cuisine of Paris, its markets, its lingerie and frock shops, the exquisite beauty of its grand boulevards and gardens, its tiny lamplit streets, the sheer magic of a lovely city as the seasons change. The book is lavishly illustrated with evocative black and white photographs. The whole package is, like that delicious recent Julie Delpy film 2 Days in Paris, intriguing, enticing, alluring and some- times supremely ir ritating. Magnifique! ★★★★ Pier 9 $32.95 Reviewed by Alison Pressley TERMS AND CONDITIONS 1. Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these conditions. 2. The promoter is Good Reading Magazine Pty Ltd. 3. Entry is open to all residents of Australia. 4. Entries must be made between 01/04/08 and 30/04/08 and be sent to Good Reading Magazine, GPO Box 3835, Sydney NSW 2001 or entries can be made at www.goodreadingmagazine.com 5. The draws will take place on 02/05/08. 6. Prizes cannot be transferred or redeemed for cash. 7. The promoter accepts no responsibility for late, lost or misdirected mail. 8. Any change in the value of the prizes between the publishing date and the date the prizes are claimed is not the responsibility of the promoter. 9 Winning entries will be those that are judged to have the correct or best answer. 10. The winners will be notified by mail and their names will be published in the June issue of Good Reading and on the Good Reading website during May 2008. This month 10 lucky readers have the chance to win a copy of Jan Wong’s new memoir Beijing Confidential, valued at $32.99 each. In Beijing Confidential Wong returns to witness one of history’s most extreme makeovers as the city feverishly prepares for its moment on the world stage for the 2008 Olympics. But she has a much more compelling personal reason to revisit her past. Haunted by her guilty conscience, Wong is convinced she ruined the life of a former fellow student, Yin Luoyi, all those years ago. When Yin asked for help to get to the US, Wong promptly reported her comrade. More than three decades later she needs to make peace with the woman she betrayed – and herself. To enter, tell us in which city this memoir is set. Write your answer, your name and contact details on the back of an envelope and mail to ‘Beijing Confidential Competition’, GPO Box 3835 Sydney NSW 2001 or enter online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com. WIN!