Good Reading : August 2015
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING AUGUST 2015 40 GENERAL FICTION WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG Black Rabbit Hall Eve Chase Set in the final three decades of last century, this novel has an almost Gothic feel to it, though it does lack a truly supernatural element. It centres on the seething emotions witnessed by Black Rabbit Hall, more properly called Pencraw Hall, the Cornish holiday home of a London family. There’s the death in a stor m of a much-loved mother to four happy children, changing their lives forever; their father’s despair; a calculating wicked stepmother and her brooding son; a loyal housekeeper; yet another death; illegitimate births; and the descent of the Hall into disrepair. The romance and thriller elements are well balanced and it proves a real page-turner as the mystery deepens. The story is told in the first person when daughter Amber tells the story of the family in the late 1960s; and then changes to the third person when relating how prospective bride, Lorna, investigates the listing of Pencraw Hall as a wedding venue in the 1990s. Although the house is decrepit – and lacking a for mal venue licence – Lorna is drawn to it and feels that she belongs there. The only inhabitants are an elderly, ailing woman and her housekeeper, with the walls of the house and its turrets bulging with secrets. Some of those secrets are flagged to the observant reader as the story switches between the decades. Revelations come fast and strong at the end of the book, wrapping up all the loose ends maybe a little too neatly, but providing a satisfactor ily happy ending after all the death and despair. ★★★ Michael Joseph $32.99 Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville Harry Mac Russell Eldridge Tom and his best friend, Mille, meet at night in an abandoned house where a murder-suicide took place. There they discuss the big issues and try to figure out the mysteries of the adult world. Tom’s dad, Harry Mac, is strong willed and opinionated. He is the editor of a newspaper that constantly challenges the government. And there is much to challenge, for this is South Africa during the 1960s; the ANC has been banned and Nelson Mandela has been forced underground. Millie’s dad, Sol, a doctor whose parents died in the German death camps, appears to approach politics in a more considered way. Both men have secrets that Tom and Millie try to decipher but when Tom overhears a conversation about an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister, he starts to scrutinise his father’s every move. Tom lives in fear that Harry Mac will get caught up in the plot, ending up in jail or on the run. However, when black unmarked cars start circling his quiet lane each night and police are frequent visitors to his house, Tom begins to learn about politics first-hand. Then Millie and her family disappear, and the different paths people take to follow their political beliefs become clear. Harry Mac is set in a very turbulent time in South African politics and Eldridge allows readers to experience some of this through the eyes of a child. Har ry Mac also explores the dynamics of families dealing with extreme circumstances and, finally, it’s the story of a father and son both looking out for one another. ★★★★ Allen & Unwin $29.99 Reviewed by Melissa Wilson that constantly challenges the government. on the Prime Minister, he starts to scrutinise his father’s every move. Tom lives in fear that Harry Mac will get caught up in the plot, ending up in jail or on the run. cars start circling his quiet lane each night and police are frequent visitors to his house, Tom begins to learn about politics first-hand. Then Millie and her family disappear, and the different paths people take to follow their political beliefs become clear.