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The books on my summer reading list ...

by REBECCA SPARROW

I love reading. And yet embarrassingly I’ve managed to read only about three books this year. I blame Fin.  Seriously, that baby is so holding me back when it comes to book club. Anyway,  I’m hoping to make up for it over the summer and create a big dent into my to-be-read pile.

Here’s what I’m planning to read over the summer …

1. In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl

Mary-Rose MacColl is one of Australia’s greatest storytellers.  Her writing is nothing short of beautiful and her stories – while literary – are page-turners.  In Falling Snow is her latest book set in France during WW1 and it’s at the top of my reading list. Here’s the blurb:

 

In Falling Snow

Iris is getting old. A widow, her days are spent living quietly and worrying about her granddaughter, Grace, a headstrong young doctor. It’s a small sort of life. But one day an invitation comes for Iris through the post to a reunion in France, where she served in a hospital during WWI.

Determined to go, Iris is overcome by the memories of the past, when as a shy, naive young woman she followed her fifteen-year-old brother, Tom, to France in 1914 intending to bring him home.

On her way to find Tom, Iris comes across the charismatic Miss Ivens, who is setting up a field hospital in the old abbey of Royaumont, north of Paris. Putting her fears aside, Iris decides to stay at Royaumont, and it is there that she truly comes of age, finding her capability and her strength, discovering her passion for medicine, making friends with the vivacious Violet and falling in love.

But war is a brutal thing, and when the ultimate tragedy happens, there is a terrible price that Iris has to pay, a price that will echo down the generations.

A moving and uplifting novel about the small, unsung acts of heroism of which love makes us capable.

2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

She may be a friend of mine but I have to tell you, I eat up every single novel that Kate Morton releases.  If you’ve never read a Kate Morton novel before, they are these lush, lavish mysteries set in England and always, always feature a twist.  (If you haven’t read The Shifting Fog, the twist in that book at the end is one of my all time favourites).  So The Secret Keeper … here’s how Allen and Unwin describe the storyline:

The Secret Keeper

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

3. Lucinda’s Whirlwind by Louise Limerick

Louise Limerick’s debut novel Dying For Cake was a massive best seller when it came out in 2003 and I have to say it was my favourite read for many years  (it’s about a group of women in a mother’s group and what happens when one of the babies goes missing. It’s TERRIFIC.).  It’s taken nearly 10 years but Louise is back with her follow up novel “Lucinda’s Whirlwind”.  Here’s what the publisher says about it:

Lucinda’s Whirlwind

Lucinda Ellis has never really mastered the knack for dealing with people. Not that she is shy. On the contrary, she has no qualms telling others exactly what she thinks of them. So she usually avoids undue human contact. Until her sister, Jayne, decides to take a sudden trip to America.

With Jayne’s husband, Brian, stranded in a remote Aboriginal community, Lucinda is forced to take charge of Jayne’s children David and Madison, their ridiculous dachshund Wilma, plus the malingering presence of teenage emo Wesley Heslop, who’s taken up residence on the couch.

Naturally, Lucinda is determined to do things her way while Jayne and Brian play out their mid-life crises. But as events spiral out of control both at home and her workplace, Lucinda reaches a turning point. She realises that to survive the whirlwind, she’s going to have to find the courage to do something that she has always been terrified of… open her heart to new relationships and possibilities.

4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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Every year, I say I’m going to read Madame Bovary. Every year I fail to read it.  I’m beginning to think I want to read it so that I can say “I read Madame Bovary over the summer” which, when you think about it,  makes me a tosser. But anyway, here’s the blurb about it (from Amazon):

Madame Bovary

Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a
desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and arousing novel.

5. Nene by Peter Fitzsimons

Nene

One of my absolute TV viewing highlights of 2011 was Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo which told the story of how CLEO Magazine came to be published and chronicled the early career of Ita Buttrose.  It was incredible television (and worth getting on DVD if you missed it).

Next year  Channel 9 will air the sequel focusing on the magazine wars between Nene King (Woman’s Day) and Dulcie Boling (New Idea). So in anticipation I plan to read Peter Fitzsimons biography of  Nene which I’m told is a rollicking read as we go behind the scenes of the Australian magazine wars.

IF YOU HAVE A TWEEN WHO NEEDS SOMETHING TO READ …

Mosquito Advertising

Then you simply cannot go past Kate Hunter’s Mosquito Advertising series. I like to think I “discovered” Kate (well, she emailed me her first few chapters back in 2008 and asked my advice on getting published and that’s how we became friends).

The moment I read the first page of Mosquito Advertising: The Parfizz Pitch I was hooked and just knew Kate would get a publishing deal.  The 3-book series details the adventures of Katie Crisp and her neighbourhood pals who start their own backyard advertising agency and it is terrific.  If your kids are desperate for something new to read… look no further.

Still in need of summer reading inspiration? Flick through this gallery for more ideas.

What are you reading this summer?

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