Book Reviews for Booklovers from The Booklover • December/January

This Month's Must Read:

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan  $38

Opening in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, 12-year-old Anna Kerrigan accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and becomes the first female diver – the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war – and is the sole provider for her mother and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life. Mesmerising, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organised crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Jennifer Egan’s first historical novel is an exceptional achievement.

Tinkering: The Complete Book of John Clarke
John Clarke  $40

The sudden death of John Clarke in April cut short the life of a man who was not only a great and much loved entertainer and satirist but a wonderful writer. This collection represents his work since the 1970s, in both Australia and New Zealand, and includes his writing for radio, television, stage and screen, as well as previously unpublished pieces. Included are the irresistible commentaries of Fred Dagg, the hilarious and unforgettable absurdities of farnarkeling, a selection of his famous quizzes where he gave the answers and readers had to guess the questions, and some moving recollections of people and places. Tinkering is the perfect way to remember the genius who made us all laugh at ourselves and our society for so many years.

Leonardo Da Vinci
Walter Isaacson  $60

“To read this magnificent biography of Leonardo da Vinci is to take a tour through the life and works of one of the most extraordinary human beings of all time in the company of the most engaging, informed and insightful guide imaginable. Walter Isaacson is at once a true scholar and a spellbinding writer.” Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.  This book – a sumptuous production full of colour illustrations – is one to be cherished forever.

Black Barn: Portrait of a Place  

Meandering across the foothills of Te Mata Peak and through the Tuki Tuki Valley, Black Barn Vineyards has become one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawke’s Bay. Its evolution over the past 20 years is a story of enterprise and creativity – from a single cottage into a wine, food and luxury accommodation destination. Owners Kim Thorp and Andy Coltart envisioned not just a vineyard but a unique environment that would entice people to stay. Lavishly photographed by Brian Culy, with text and poetry contributed by Gregory O’Brien and Jenny Bornholdt, and recipes from the Black Barn Bistro menu, this stunning book is the next best thing to being there yourself.

The Booklover thanks all its loyal customers for their continued support throughout 2017, and hopes that our much-anticipated Christmas books catalogue will help with your gift selections for family and friends. We look forward to ensuring you benefit from our informed reading choices and unique services in 2018.

Issue 83 Dec 2017 / Jan 2018