This Month's Must Read:
The Naturalist’s Daughter
Tea Cooper $32
A woman’s bungled act of kindness sparks a chain of events that reverberates through the generations uncovering secrets, lies and the biggest scientific controversy of the 19th century, the classification of the platypus. In 1808 in New South Wales, Rose Winton wants nothing more than to work with her father Charles, an eminent naturalist, on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. The discoveries they have made could turn the scientific world on its head. When Charles is unable to make the long sea journey to present his findings to the prestigious Royal Society in England, Rose must venture forth in his stead. What she discovers there will change the lives of future generations. In 1908 in Sydney, Tamsin Alleyn has been given a mission: travel to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook of debateable value, gifted to the Mitchell Library by a recluse. But when she gets there, she finds there is more to the book than meets the eye, and more than one interested party. Shaw Everdene, a young antiquarian bookseller and lawyer, seems to have his own agenda when it comes to the book but Tamsin decides to work with him to try and discover the book’s true provenance. The deeper they delve, the more intricate the mystery becomes. As the lives of two women a century apart converge, discoveries rise up from the past and reach into the future, with irrevocable consequences...
On The Bright Side
Hendrik Groen $37
For all those readers who enjoyed last year’s bestseller The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen. Now 85, Hendrik is fed up to his false teeth with coffee mornings and bingo. He dreams of escaping the confines of his care home and practising hairpin turns on his mobility scooter. Inspired by his fellow members of the recently formed Old-But-Not-Dead Club, he vows to commit to a spot of octogenarian anarchy. But the care home’s Director will not stand for drunken bar crawls, illicit fireworks and geriatric romance on her watch. The Old-But-Not-Dead Club must stick together if they’re not to go gently into that good night. Things turn more serious, however, when rumours surface that the home is set for demolition. It’s up to Hendrik and the gang to stop it… he has no intention of slowing up, or going down without a fight. Once again, with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and important themes, On The Bright Side is an entertaining and uplifting story about friendship, selflessness and dignity.
Lloyd Jones $38
From one of New Zealand’s best known and award-winning contemporary writers, this profound and unsettling novel is a powerful allegorical tale about humanity and dignity and the ease with which we can justify brutality. Two mysterious strangers turn up at a hotel in a small country town. Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing? The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. Before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty.
The Only Story
Julian Barnes $35
Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? - that is the only real question. First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on him by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen. Tender and wise, this is a deeply moving novel by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart.
The Girls In The Picture
Melanie Benjamin $37
From the author of the bestseller The Aviator’s Wife. It is 1914: 25-year-old Frances Marion has been lured to Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips is ‘oflickerso’ – the silent moving pictures enthralling theatregoers. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling – writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have given her the title of ‘America’s Sweetheart’. The two ambitious young women hit it off, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender – their astronomical success could come at a price. In this story of friendship and forgiveness, Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era – its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, its seduction and heartbreak.
DID YOU MISS SOME OF OUR TOP CHRISTMAS FICTION SELLERS?
MUNICH by Robert Harris • A LEGACY OF SPIES by John le Carre
MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan • THE NECESSARY ANGEL by CK Stead
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles • THE HISTORY OF BEES by Maja Lunde
A LONG WAY FROM HOME by Peter Carey • THE GOLDEN HOUSE by Salman Rushdie
HOME FIRE by Kamila Shamsie • THE DREAMS OF BETTANY MELLMOTH by William Boyd
THE LAST HOURS by Minette Walters • LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders
THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn • IN THE MIDST OF WINTER by Isabel Allende
WHISPERING IN FRENCH by Sophia Nash • FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper