FIONA KIDMAN – Ricochet Baby

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Acquired via BookCrossing 15 May 2008 – Rabck from Sherlockfan

I was very restrained and kept this in the TBR pile in date order. I wasn’t disappointed when I got to it. An atmospheric and eventful tale by a New Zealand author that looks at what happens when something goes slightly off-kilter in an elegantly planned and composed addition to a family, and how the ripples spread outwards, affecting both the main characters, their extended families, and other people who weren’t at first much involved. The portraits of marriage and friendships, both old and new, were cleverly done without appearing “clever”, and, although one relationship didn’t ring that true for me, it didn’t mar my enjoyment of this mature and masterful work.

Thank you so much for sharing this author with me, Sherlockfan. A colleauge from NZ asked to read this next*, and once I have it back I will share it with a few BC friends!

* she heard I had the book when I had to ask her to explain what a “treasure” was – not a term I had come across in that context before!

Booker Longlist is announced

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Aravind Adiga – The White Tiger
Gaynor Arnold – Girl in a Blue Dress
Sebastian Barry – The Secret Scripture
John Berger – From A to X
Michelle de Krets – The Lost Dog
Amitav Ghosh – Sea of Poppies
Linda Grant – The Clothes on Their Backs
Mohammed Hanif – A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Philip Hensher – The Northern Clemency
Joseph O’Neill – Netherland
Salman Rushdie – The Enchantress of Florence
Tom Rob Smith – Child 44
Steve Toltz – A Fraction of the Whole

Anyone read any of these/ the authors? I’ve read and enjoyed some Ghosh and I normally love Rushdie but haven’t fancied this particular one…


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Bought at the Cinema Bookshop, Hay on Wye, 18 May 2008

The sequel to “Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman”, which I read on holiday in Tunisia last year, this looks at what happens to Rose, Nathan and Minty after the events of that book, and, specifically, what happens to marriages when mistress becomes wife.

Quite a depressing book, and not as good as the first one, although this author is popular and my reaction to the first one may have been coloured by reading it on holiday!

GIL MCNEIL – Divas Don’t Knit

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Acquired via BookCrossing 06 May 2008 – RABCK/mini-ring from Anglersrest

Jo is just widowed and dealing with 2 small sons and a house move to (thinly disguised) Herne Bay in Kent, where she’s going to take over her Gran’s knitting shop. Her best friend Ellen keeps her on the right path as she meets all sorts of dotty folks, from pensioners at the shop to the local gentry, negotiates the playground mafia and makes close friends with the new landlady of the local pub. I thought this was going to be chick-litty but it was very well (and amusingly) written, with lovely characterisations of adults, children and dogs, and a warm feeling.

I will look out for other books by this author.

I see I’m supposed to send it on to Elham Isabel next, so will do so asap!

WENDY K. HARRIS – Rocken Edge

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Acquired TODAY from the author!

This book was waiting in the hallway when I got home, having left work at normal time for the first time this week. I flopped down on the sofa with the cat and a cuppa, and started devouring it. Read it while I cooked and ate dinner, and have just finished it. Another unputdownable read from Wendy K. Harris.

This is the third Undercliff novel, set in the mysterious coastal world of the Isle of Wight. A cast of fascinating characters interact, the older, familiar people there to welcome again, bringing new characters into their midst and working their special magic on them. There’s some spooky nuns and a slightly gothic-y bit, a fallen priest and the absolutely delightful Fran in her chaotic animal-filled house (I think my favourite character). How will it all work out? We don’t exactly know, even at the end, but all kinds of pure spirituality are celebrated, hypocrisy gets its own comeuppance, and there’s joy for many of the characters.

Extra bonus – a review by *me* of Blue Slipper Bay printed in the back!

This one wasn’t published by Transita, but by a local publishers as part of a scheme celebrating Island Authors.

Wendy’s web page is at and well worth a look. And the Undercliff novels… well you know they’re pageturners now if you didn’t before!

BookCrossers – I’m going to get hold of another copy and ring it soon!


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Acquired via BookCrossing 02 May 2008 – Rabck from Safron along with the Learning To Bow bookring

A shimmeringly surfaced novella about death, mourning and friendship. I found the slightly spacey, distanced prose reminiscent of Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami (and this is the reason I’m passing it along to Matthew to read). I loved the detail of the narrator being given a banana themed present, although then I wondered if the word and the author’s name are connected as they are in English. Will have to remember to ask my Japanese colleague.

I really like Yoshimoto’s writing, and once Matthew’s read it, I’ll be offering it on a bookray.

SUDHA KOUL – The Tiger Ladies

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Acquired via BookCrossing 04 May 2008 – at a Kitchen Garden Cafe mini-meet

An elegant lament for the lost way of life in Kashmir, peppered with descriptions of the relgious violence which has torn this once-united region apart. Koul’s life is fairly typical of a post-war Hindu girl, with school, college and the marriage market – although she gets herself into the Indian Civil Service and finds her own husband (or he finds her). Luminous, semi-mythical descriptions of gods and tiger ladies mingle with prosaic details of life with her beloved grandparents, and the descriptions of immigrant life in America, with dual-culture daughters, are thoughtful and elegaic too.

EVE MAKIS – Land of the Golden Apple

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Acquired 02 May 2008 – gift from the author

Makis does it again, with an absorbing, elegantly plotted and excellently-peopled slice of life in 1980s Cyprus. Young Socrates leads a life of unalloyed pleasure, out making fireworks and causing havoc with his two best friends, all their exciting possessions stashed in the shed of gentle Andrico, the town simple man. But darkness clouds their carefree lives, Marco’s dad’s violences gets worse and worse, and there’s a crime committed that sends shockwaves – and waves of gossip – through the village.

The characters are so well observed and really come alive, even more secondary characters like Petri, wide boy army lad in his John Travolta suit, and Kyriacos, owner of a dodgy arcade and full of plots to lure widows. Both of these chaps are seen as real, complex people with choices to make for good or for bad.

The scene is set beautifully too, with sounds and smells mixing with sights to produce a really evocative background.

I think this may be her best work so far!

And yes, I will be sending it (or another copy) on a bookring!

DOROTHY WHIPPLE – They Were Sisters (Persephone)


Bought 20 April 2008 – the new Persephone Bookshop

A real treat – a day off and the time to read a Persephone cover-to-cover. This is the excellently-told story of three sisters and the children of two of them. One sister loves too much, and is broken. One never loves enough, and is broken in her fashion. And one has a peculiar marriage (and a hilarious maid) but tries to pull the broken strings of the family together. All the characters, major and minor, are well-drawn and the story draws one in and means the book is hard to put down.

Another quiet masterpiece from Whipple.


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Acquired via BookCrossing 20 Apr 2008 – from the book table at the Convention

The compelling tale of Carol, orphaned in her teens, who ends up the doctor’s wife in a small town in Minnesota, desperate to improve it and herself. But this is a small community in the early years of the 20th century, and Carol is given several examples of what happens if you go against the community and fight your place in it. Will she buckle down, have an affair, run off… or any combination of these?

Proper old-fashioned good writing and a sense of Carol’s and the town’s place in the mores of the time make this a good and fulfilling read.

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