Book Reviews for Booklovers from The Booklover • March

This Month's Must Read:

The Shepherd’s Hut
Tim Winton  $45

From the four-time winner of the Miles Franklin Award and one of Australia’s iconic modern writers, this exquisite, brutal coming-of-age novel tells the story of Jaxie Clackton, a boy on the run from his past, and explores the way love and hate combine to form a young man’s beliefs. Jaxie dreads going home since his mum died. His violent, drunk father bashes him without mercy, and he wishes he was an orphan. But no one has ever told Jaxie to be careful what he wishes for. In one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. There is just one person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for. But to reach her he will have to cross the vast saltlands on a trek that only a dreamer or a fugitive would attempt. As Jaxie tracks across the Australian landscape – a place that provides safe haven, harbours criminals, and threatens to kill those who haven’t reckoned with its hot, waterless vastness – Tim Winton draws a picture of a child becoming a man: fierce, loving, ruthless. The Shepherd’s Hut is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and unforgiving world.

Secrets Under the Sun
Nadia Marks  $35

From the author of the bestseller Among the Lemon Trees. The truth will surprise you... On the day of Katerina’s funeral in Larnaka, Cyprus, three childhood friends reunite for the first time in years to say farewell to the beloved old woman who profoundly influenced their lives. Eleni, Marianna and Oresti grew up together, as close as siblings, in their small, quaint seaside town. Although from humble beginnings, and originally hired as a household maid, Katerina’s love, wisdom and guidance helped shape them all. She became a pillar of their community, seeing the town change from a bustling, fashionable port to the quiet tourist destination of today. But the funeral is not just a time to mourn and remember. Oresti’s mother Sonia decides that with Katerina’s death comes the time to unburden herself from all the family secrets and answer the riddles of the girls’ childhood. What she reveals will change everything, and how the three friends perceive their lives, as a web of secrets, deception, forbidden love, undying loyalty and tenderness unravels before them.

Miss Burma
Charmaine Craig  $33

This is the story of modern-day Burma told through the eyes of Benny and Khin and their daughter Louisa. Khin is part of a long-persecuted ethnic minority group, the Karen, and when World War II comes to Southeast Asia, Benny and Khin must go into hiding in the eastern part of the country during the Japanese Occupation, beginning a journey that will lead them to change the country’s history. After the war, the British authorities make a deal with the Burman nationalists, led by Aung San, whose party gains control of the country. When Aung San is assassinated, his successor ignores the pleas for self-government of the Karen people and other ethnic groups, and in doing so sets off what will become the longest-running civil war in recorded history. Louisa has a danger-filled, tempestuous childhood and reaches prominence as Burma’s first beauty queen soon before the country falls to dictatorship. As she navigates her newfound fame, she is forced to reckon with her family’s past, the West’s ongoing covert dealings in her country, and her own loyalty to the cause of the Karen people. Miss Burma is a captivating portrait of how modern Burma came to be and of the ordinary people swept up in the struggle for self-determination and freedom.

The Passengers
Eleanor Limprecht  $33

A war bride and her granddaughter are on a cruise from San Diego to Sydney. The grandmother, Sarah, was born in Australia and has not returned since she left in 1946, after she had married an American serviceman and travelled to the USA. During the journey back to the country of her birth, Sarah tells Hannah the story of her life. Hannah listens avidly, seeing her grandmother for the first time as a woman and a person with a past. Sarah gives Hannah a new perspective on the stories she has always told herself: that she will never be content with the way she looks, that the desire she feels is ugly and that she doesn’t deserve happiness. It is when they arrive at their destination that Hannah realises the immensity of Sarah’s life and what she has given up. The Passengers is a luminous novel about love: the journeys we undertake, the sacrifices we make and the heartache we sometimes suffer. It is about how we most long for what we have left behind, and it is about how close the past can still feel – even after long passages of time and when so much has changed.

Happiness Is a Red Teapot
Anouska Jones  $30

For centuries, tea has held a valued place in both Eastern and Western cultures. From the ritual of a Japanese tea ceremony to the cosy informality of a cuppa at the kitchen table, tea soothes, grounds and comforts us. This unique book is a delightful collection of memorable quotations and photographs from rock stars (Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart), Buddhist monks (Thich Nat Hahn), politicians (Abraham Lincoln, William Gladstone), actors (Audrey Hepburn, Billy Connolly), adventurers (Bear Grylls) and more. It seems tea’s appeal is truly universal!

Issue 85 March 2018