RaveThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)Set between 1944 and 1979, this intelligent, moving, intermittently funny and slightly hyper-real novel focuses on two main characters and a host of minor ones whose lives and fates, sometimes quite grim, are intertwined in a way that keeps bringing them back to the magical city of Florence, and to each other.
RaveThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)Here as in the Harry Potter books, Galbraith/Rowling’s storytelling is exuberantly cinematic, and it shows not only in the vivid physical descriptions but also in the way that dialogue is used to develop character while simultaneously keeping the plot jogging along ... Asked by a friend whether I think the 927 pages are justified by the quality of the read, I replied – after the usual havering about personal taste – that in my view they absolutely are. But unless you are using an e-reader, do not try to read this book in bed. If you accidentally drop such a heavy and unwieldy object on your face, it will blacken both your eyes and break your nose.
RaveThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)This richly textured novel is about so many things that it’s hard to do justice to all of them. Ideas about friendship, ageing and grief keep sliding kaleidoscopically in and out of focus ... It has been said, as a criticism, that Wood writes only about middle-class people and preoccupations. But surely a novelist must be allowed her choice of subject matter, and in any case Wood is subverting it here by factoring in considerations of gender, which are too often ignored in this kind of reading. One of the underlying themes of this novel is the precarious nature of womanhood even in first-world societies: what seems to be social or financial or emotional security often turns out to be largely illusory ... Wood’s technique in this novel is masterly. There’s the minutely detailed observation, the delicate shifts in point of view, the variation of style to suit different scenes and moods, and the expert management of escalating drama and tension as the novel’s climax approaches and the friends are buffeted by wave after wave of dismay and grief ... Wood faces down the depressing and frightening things about old age and hints at things that might be used to soften them. Or even, if you’re lucky, to transcend them.
MixedThe Sydney Morning HeraldWhile this book is both witty and funny, there\'s really no other reason to read it: the structure is a collection of discontinuous scraps in the first person, scraps that say little about the world or humanity, and there\'s no plot to speak of and no character development at all. Claire has no job, worries about trivia, and can\'t finish Ulysses. These things go on happening for 270 pages. The model for this novel seems to be Helen Fielding\'s Bridget Jones books, with which it shares an authorial assumption that a first-person narrator who is also a floundering ditz is somehow irresistibly charming, but it lacks both the singularity of Fielding\'s characters and the forward movement of her plots.
PositiveThe Sydney Morning Herald\"This is a clever and disturbing fable about appearance and reality, exploring what humanity might look like if unmasked and free of social norms and rules.\
Hiro Arikawa, Trans. by Philip Gabriel
PositiveThe Sydney Morning HeraldThis book could easily become twee, but somehow it never quite does, and what we\'re left with is a man and his cat on a road trip, some stories of the man\'s life and friends, and a beautiful travelogue ... funny and sweet.
Heather Taylor Johnson
PositiveThe Sydney Morning HeraldThis novel is surprisingly upbeat for a book exploring the aftermath of a death ... This well-structured book explores the widening ripples and the long-time after-effects of the accident ... While the novel occasionally tips over into sentimentality, Taylor Johnson\'s interweaving of her characters and management of chronology is particularly impressive.