Tag Archives: small town

Snake by Kate Jennings

DATE FINISHED: July 25th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  This is the story of a marriage between polar opposites, dissatisfaction snaking through it from the start.  Rex is a solid man of earth, accepting of disappointments, and simply looking to settle into his own corner of land.  Irene is flighty as the air and soon resentful of the man and life she has tied herself to.  As the children grow up, Rex and Irene grow further apart under a scorching, suffocating sun.

THOUGHTS:  This deceptively simple story is built up through a chain of vividly realised images – the stark landscape, the hollow lives, the hope and the melancholy. Read more of this post

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice

DATE FINISHED: July 24th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  When Kellyanne’s imaginary friends disappear, she quickly slides into a mysterious illness. Although big brother Ashmol has never believed in Pobby and Dingan himself, he decides that the only way to cure her is to get the rest of their small mining town out looking for the missing invisibles, to prove to Kellyanne that people care. But will the plan work?  At the same time, their father is accused of ‘ratting’ at the local opal mines, and must contend with a swell of local opinion against him as his daughter wastes away before his eyes…

THOUGHTS:  Although on the surface this is a sentimental premise, Rice neatly avoids cliché in its telling. Read more of this post

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

DATE FINISHED: July 20th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Holland has planted his land with every variety of eucalyptus he can get his hands on – over five hundred in total. As his daughter reaches marriageable age, he decides that only the man who can correctly name all of his eucalypts will be good enough to take her hand. News of Ellen’s beauty and Holland’s challenge travel far and wide, but it is only when one suitor shows clear signs that he will accomplish this task that Ellen begins to worry – especially as she has recently met a stranger whose odd stories have somehow got under her skin…

THOUGHTS:  This is, of course, a fairy tale. But the characters are more than archetypes, the landscape lives and breathes, and the story is compelling. Read more of this post

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

DATE FINISHED: May 13th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  18 year old Merricat (Mary Katherine) is derided by the villagers when she ventures out of the Blackwood family home for supplies. The scandal of a poisoning years earlier (of which her elder sister Constance was acquitted) hovers over the family home, where the two girls and their ailing Uncle Julian live, and Julian daily relives – or tries to remember – the day that changed their lives forever. When Constance invites their Cousin Charles into the family home, Merricat does everything within her powers to make him leave, from asking him outright, to storing up ‘magic’ words, to…much worse. But Charles is equally determined that Merricat must go. Who will win?

THOUGHTS:  Like I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, I’m certain I would have loved this book if I had first read it when I was 14.   Read more of this post

The Voices by Susan Elderkin

DATE FINISHED: May 6th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  As an adolescent, Billy is most at home out in the bush, watching the kangaroos or collecting stones or – a little later – adventuring with the mysterious Maisie. As an adult, he is admitted to hospital bearing injuries more usually unique to the aboriginals, and in his delirium, explains to a doctor about the voices he has not heard since he was much younger – until recently. The spirits are lethargic, and the wind is restless, but what is Billy to them, anyway?

THOUGHTS:   This original novel, begins with a captivating story, narrated by spirits who are all but invisible to those around them, and a playful, attention-seeking breeze. Read more of this post

Angel of Brooklyn by Janette Jenkins

DATE FINISHED: April 27th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Beatrice is raised in small-town America by her distant father, an amateur taxidermist, alongside her brother’s dreams of becoming a preacher. When this life comes to an abrupt end, Beatrice finds herself on Coney Island – at first selling postcards, but later playing a starring role, as the Angel of Brooklyn. Lancashire lad , Jonathan, whisks her away from the ‘glamour’ of the boardwalk, and Beatrice switches the hustle & bustle of small-time entertainment for the gossip of a tiny village without even a picture-house. Beatrice adapts to her new life in Anglezarke, but as all the young men sign up to serve their country, tensions rise amongst those left in the village.

THOUGHTS:   I did not immediately warm to this book. Read more of this post

Oyster by Janette Turner Hospital

DATE FINISHED: April 26th, 2012

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Outer Maroo is a town on the edge of nowhere, not found on any map.  Outer Maroo is suspicious of strangers, and holds a secret beneath its suffocating, rainless sky. One stranger, Oyster, one day found his way beyond the town’s defences, and Oyster’s Reef brought even more strangers into the fold. But the secrets grew, too, and eventually the strangers grew fewer again.

THOUGHTS:   Despite the vast openness of the Australian outback, Oyster projects an intense claustrophobia. Read more of this post