Many of the best books I’ve read this year were written by our home-grown Australian authors. So wherever you’re relaxing this summer, take some time out to enjoy some great Aussie reads.
Jane Harper’s ‘The Dry’ was hands down my favourite read of the year. This sizzling mystery introduced us to the steadfast but gritty detective Aaron Falk. This debut crime thriller shows a rural Australian community pushed to breaking point in a time of drought. You can feel the crackle as you turn each beautifully written page and the tension builds as old secrets, rivalries and gossip resurface in a time of crisis. Harper has followed this exquisite debut with the equally good ‘Force of Nature’. I have not been able to put this book down over Christmas. Both are breathless page turners which will keep you guessing to the end.
If you’ve spent Christmas with your extended family you will definitely enjoy ‘Parting Words’ published by UQP. Brisbane’s own Cass Moriarty delves into the world of family dynamics in her second novel. Daniel Whittaker leaves some unusual instructions in his will. Before his inheritance can be doled out Daniel has twelve letters which his three grown up children need to deliver personally to people from his past. As the siblings carry out this task they must confront their entrenched ideas about their father and discover more about themselves and their beliefs. This beautifully crafted novel will make you question how well you really know your family.
Another wonderful debut, also from UQP, is the Young Adult novel –‘Becoming Aurora’ by Elizabeth Kasmer. Set in the Sunshine Coast hinterland this timely book tackles some tough topics – racism, coming of age, aging, peer pressure and Australian identity. The topics are handled with great empathy and depict the endless shades of grey found in many modern situations. Kasmer reminds us of a time in our lives when we struggled with our identity through her main character, Rory. Rory’s friends are changing and after taking the wrap for a racist attack on a local restaurant she is stuck doing community service. Here she meets Jack an old-timer and boxing trainer who helps to teach her some powerful lessons and a new way of looking at the world.
Ashley Hay’s inspirational ‘A Hundred Small Lessons’ tells the story of two mothers from different generations and how their lives converge one hot, wet summer. The story shows how the minute decisions you make can change the course of your life. When Elsie Gormley falls and is forced to leave the Brisbane house which has been her home for sixty-two years, Lucy Kiss and her husband Ben move in to create a new life. In a nearby nursing home Elsie is consumed by memories all tied up with the house whose rooms seem to breathe Elsie’s secrets into Lucy. An evocative novel about ordinary lives and the city that shapes them.
Jackie French had me entranced with her wartime novel ‘Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies’. This book was like nothing I’d ever read. Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society’s ‘lovely ladies’ won a war. Each year at Shillings Hall, Miss Lily draws around young women from Europe’s best families. The girls are taught how to captivate a man and find a husband, in ways that would surprise outsiders. Enter Sophie Higgs, the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only colonial brought to this secluded English country house. As war escalates the lovely ladies become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens and transport systems. Sophie must use all her lovely lady skills to prevent the most devastating weapon yet. But who is the mysterious Miss Lily? Is she a heroine or an enemy? Mystery abounds in the first in a series from one of Australia’s best loved authors.
These are just a few of my favourites from the past year. So tell me are you a fan of Australian authors ? What have been some of your favourite Aussie novels this year?