My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
I loved My Brilliant Friend for its themes of female friendship and beautiful lyricism. This wonderful book is classic yet contemporary and totally compelling! This is the first in the four part Neapolitan novels written by Elena Ferrante - one of Italy's most acclaimed authors. Book four was released this year.
This was also Pru's favourite for the year. She said: "My fave read of the year would have to be Elena Ferrante’s brilliant Neapolitan series – thanks to Mem Fox for highly recommending My Brilliant Friend to me! Turned out to be Volume 1 in a series of four titles which, like her, I couldn’t put down! These powerful novels explore the long friendship and life stories of two girls as they grow into women in the tough neighbourhood of Naples; throughout the series their relationship is volatile- close and supportive at times, distant and strained at others. The people and relationships around them merge in and out of their lives along with the politics of the times and the various places they experience. Vol 2 - The Story of a New Name is followed by Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay with the fourth installment The Story of the Lost Child. Now in their 40s, this remarkable story of friendship surrounded by the raw reality of the gritty characters in the neighbourhood of struggling Naples, takes a tragic turn. I loved this evocative series, the sense of place and extended relationships makes compelling reading. The series would be great for a luscious read over a lovely long summer break!"
I couldn't split my top two picks for the year - both Australian authors. Who could go past the lovely Rachael John’s book The Patterson Girls, a story of four sisters returning home from all over the country/world to help sort out their late mother’s things. Each sister has her own issues to deal with and this is a journey of discovery for them all. This will appeal to lovers of Womens Fiction or “life lit” as Rachael describes it. A great holiday read!
The other was a debut young adult (YA) novel called Risk by Australian author Fleur Ferris which tackles the subject of cyber safety. Although this is classed as YA, it will appeal to readers of all ages and shows how easily a person can be lured into the deep web of the internet and the consequences thereof. Gripping!!
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Although I used to read a lot of fantasy fiction, in the last decade or so I have been reading mainly mystery. I knew Jim Butcher from the Dresden files so when I saw this new series, I had to give it a try. And it was well worth the long read! With its combination of well-written characters, amazing action sequences, flying ships, magical creatures and fighting against the odds, this was a book that I just couldn't put down.
The Wrong Man by Kate White.
I love a story with a brave, strong female and this is one of them. I loved the story-line, it was easy to read, and was truly intriguing! Although not as well known as some authors, White provided a true page-turner with many twists, teasers and a villain that will totally surprise and shock.
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
This book is not usually my genre, but after the tv series I decided to read The Secret River. I have always been fascinated to know what it would be like to for Australia's' first people when they first encountered Europeans and this book is an excellent perspective from both sides. I was also captivated by the description of life in Colonial Sydney and the discovery of the Hawkesbury river - some Australian History that I knew nothing about. Kate Grenville writes about the Australian bush with colour and warmth, you can almost smell it. The Secret River is interesting, uplifting but ultimately tragic... A beautiful read.
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman
The publisher's blurb sounded like this was going to be an upsetting read but it didn’t say how funny and clever it would be. Nor did it indicate how well the author presents a genuine understanding of a marriage where husband and wife truly share a deep love; nor what an eye opener it is into Early Onset Alzheimer’s. This book is heart-achingly wonderful. Yes you will cry, and yes, you will laugh, and at the end of it, you will quite possibly want to make a memory book of your own for your family.
Happy Holiday Reading everyone!