A smaller group than usual arrived for our August chat, but plenty of discussion took place nevertheless. The Outback Writers Festival was entered by Shirley’s granddaughter, His Name Was Mud by Tracy Liotis and received a good review, a justly proud grandmother. The Lost City of the Monkey God a true story written by Douglas Preston was enjoyed and The True Story of the Horse Soldiers in Afghanistan told by Doug Stanton was of a deployment of American soldiers after 9/11 who rode with the Afghanistan warriors to defeat the Taliban. A discussion was held on whether the book Jane Austen made her look somewhat of a radical. The Tattooist of Auschwitz had received a bad review, but those of our group who read this didn’t agree. Fiona McIntosh The Lavender Keeper and The French Province were a good read, whilst White Out by Ken Follett was not worth the effort. The Favourite, the power struggle between Queen Ann and her best friend Sarah Churchill the Duchess of Marlborough, was enjoyed. Whilst on history, Behind Closed Doors, the tragic story of how Wallace Simpson spent her final years. Her Mothers Daughter by Nadia Wheatley, an interesting memoir, whilst Transcription by Kate Atkinson, had too many people and too many time frames although a good read. The Envelope by Maurice Wills, a very sad story of Australian Orphanages from 1930’s to the 1950’s. Murder on Easey Street, the cold case murder of two Benalla girls in a house in Collingwood, the house was empty for six years until being sold and renovated. A few more books were read - a small group read many books. See you in September.
A smaller group for Let’s Talk Books on the first Tuesday of July, I guess the lucky ones have gone away seeking warmer weather. Quite a few books are doing the rounds after recommendations from our group, who are always willing to lend a book to another. It is interesting to listen to the different opinions given about the content of the books swapped and lent. The Cardinal (George Pell) was lent and read, leading to more comments about this situation. Laurie, our Talking Books guru, listened to The Dry by Jane Harper and thoroughly enjoyed the novel.
Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie. Annie an Art Restorer in Melbourne finds a painting in a cellar of two young girls. The book goes back to 1867 when a Paddle steamer captain found a girl half drowned in the Murray River, his wife named her Alice. Alice had a gift of seeing an aura around people. Eventually she runs away to the Goldfields with her friend Rosie, but there is always a man in a dark coat. Annie the Art Restorer is determined to find out more, but always sees the same man in the dark coat. A very good read. Hells Trail, a thesis written by John Williams in 1972 about the Irish Convicts and Van Diemens Land, was of historical interest. Mary Celeste the American Merchant ship discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic. A Canadian brigantine found her in a dishevelled condition under partial sail with the lifeboat missing. One of those mysteries worth having a look at. The Legend and the Life of Coco Chanel, great pictures, sex and excitement, this book had it all. A beautiful picture book of Queen Mary’s Doll House, complete with miniature furnishings, this is on display at Buckingham Palace. There were a few crime novels and a couple of books `not worth reading’. So sit by the fire and read and have a lot to talk about in August.
We enjoyed another afternoon discussing books at the Library on the first Tuesday in June.
Quite a few have now read the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell, as one reader put it, you feel she was following you around.
Going Back by Munjed al Muderis, the second book by the internationally famous surgeon who has returned to Iraq to change the lives of injured soldiers and civilians. His first book Walking Free told his story of his flight as a refugee. Highly recommended.
Laurie, our guru on audio books, enjoyed Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridas, an Icelandic writer of crime fiction. The Hunting Party by Washington Black, crime in the Scottish Highlands, is doing the rounds of the group. Highly recommended was The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson, beautifully illustrated birds with lovely `bird’ stories.
The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor, is the story of a painting by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt of Viennese Jewish Society lady Adele Bloch-Bauer which sold for $135 million and the legal battle to get the painting back after the holocaust.
Ian McEwen’s On Chesil Beach was enjoyed, The East End Girl was light entertainment. The Queen and I a novel written in 1992 by Sue Townsend about revolving republicanism in the UK. Rae had a busy month, reading Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriaty; Bye Bye Baby, Fiona MacIntosh a good mystery; Border Districts, supposedly the final work of author Gerald Murnane, different book to read. Cardinal by Louise Milligan an investigative reporter for the ABC, was a compelling read detailing events leading up to the arrest of Cardinal George Pell.
Dorothy entertained us with `changes of words of 60’s pop songs and quotes, we finished the day with a good laugh.
A lovely afternoon spent at the Library discussing our reading for the month. Many thrillers/suspense novels from Jo Nesbo, Stella Rimington, Michael Connelly and Sidney Sheldon.
A favourite read by no less than three of our group was The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell. A Forgers Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh, a true story, was very readable. Laurie was pleased to obtain a talking book of the Black Snake which challenges the legend of Ned Kelly and was discussed at our last meeting. The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Stackhouse was also a pleaser. An interesting read was The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, the story of King David, as was the true story Esther by Jessica North, a Jewish woman transported on the First Fleet who became the servant, lover and then wife of First Lieutenant George Johnson and an influential woman in the colony. Well worth a read. An historical fiction novel The Nightingdale by Kristen Hannah, two sisters who resisted the German occupation of France.
The Women’s Weekly even rated a mention, an interesting story about Audrey Hepburn.
Another great reading month lies ahead. See you all in June.
A lovely Autumn Day found us in the Library talking books. We had some excellent recommendations this month. The Woman in the Window by A J Finn, Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight. A good story of a woman who had lost her baby and returned to journalism, her first assignment being to report on the finding of a dead baby behind the University much to her husband’s concern. The Bulldog Track by Peter Phelps. A grandson’s story of resilience and survival during World War 11. Peter’s grandfather Tom Phelps was a gold miner in PNG and 75 years later Peter tells his story. An excellent book. The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh, part fiction and part fact. Asked to assist with curating the antique jewellery of the Louvre in 1963 some Byzantine pearls are loaned to the museum, revelations set off a hunt for a Nazi. From Prague to the Tuileries of Paris to the Yorkshire moors a very good read.
The Black Snake written by Leo Kennedy, the great grandson of Sergeant Michael Kennedy, who was shot by the Kelly gang at Stringybark Creek. This book challenges the legend of Ned Kelly and was an excellent read, well worth a look. Milko, the well known Castles family in Benalla, a good story of not only the Castles and the milk run but some local football history and other items of interest. Pacific by Simon Winchester, a non fiction book written in the period from the 1950’s to now. From surf boards, Coral reefs and atom bombs, dictators, fading empires and the emergence of new super powers! Beyond Illusions – set in Vietnam, a romance which was described as `a bit soppy’. Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, Jacquie Kennedy’s Secret Service man, showing a different side to the glamorous life we read about.
Any Ordinary Day by Lee Sales, when people are asked to find resilience they think they haven’t got.Clipper Ships by Rob Mundle set in the 1930’s transporting gold seekers from California to Melbourne. A very good read.
There were quite a few more books discussed but we would take up the whole newsletter. Keep reading and see you on the 7th May
The weather during February encouraged much reading among our members, it was too hot outside to do much else.
Phillipa Gregory received a warm response for her book The Little House, this was not one of her Tudor historical novels but a mystery with a great finish. It doesn’t disappoint. Franklin and Eleanor once again pleased – a powerful couple in that era. Burning Fields by Ellie Sinclair told of a sugar cane farm in North Queensland after the War.
Some interesting and varied reading was done by Lyn who went from The Last Tzar, The Unusual Life of Edna Walling and finished with Ruth Bader Ginsburgh who was appointed by Bill Clinton as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the USA. A very astute and admired lady.
An unusual read was Little by Edward Carey. This unusual story is about an orphan named Marie who was born in Switzerland in 1761 and through many travels in life became the famed Madam Tussaud. A very good read. The Cutting Room by Louise Welch a mystery, tells the story of an auctioneer asked to clean out and auction a deceased estate, he found more than he bargained for in the attic! The Labyrinth of Spirit by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the final part of Zafon’s historical Spanish quartet The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, this is a genre crossing delight. Young Digger by Anthony Hill, a Canberra Journalist, the true story from WW1 of a French boy orphaned during the War and how he was bought to Australia, this was reviewed recently and received good press.
The Lady and the Unicorn, history and imagination, the mystery behind the medieval tapestries that hang in the Cluny museum in Paris.
Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, the author of The Secret River, was very much enjoyed by Margaret who gave us a great review.
I can’t list all the books read, but as you can see the reading is wonderfully varied and interesting.
The holiday season and hot weather certainly contributed to a great deal of reading being done over the break.
Lorraine read and enjoyed 6 murder mysteries, Laurie listened to the Poldark series that was, as he described it, a kaleidoscope of the era around 1932. James Heriot was revisited and enjoyed.
An interesting read was If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch, quite a discussion on this topic. Barbara had read The Silk Road and obtained a copy of `The New Silk Road’ by Peter Francopan an enlightening look at history shaping the world.
Judith Bassett has had an article published in Quadrant `The Faithful Massacre of 1838’, previously published in the Journal of Australian Studies in 1989. Well done Judith.
Enjoyed was `My Mother a Serial Killer’. The mother was married in Wangaratta and met a younger man and murdered him and 2 others – gruesome.
`Mirka and Georges - Culinary Affair’, written by Lesley Harding, stories of the restaurant, recipes and art, as the reader described it, wicked but virtuous. Helen enjoyed Duchess, Lady Margaret Douglas a Scottish Lady who came from the house of Tudor and was the granddaughter of Henry the VII. Highly recommended was `The Land Before Avocado’ by Richard Glover – how Australia used to be.
So many and varied were the books this month I couldn’t list them all, these were just a taste of what U3A members are reading. Quite a few books were swapped for others to enjoy.
See you all on Tuesday 5th March.
Welcome back to Lets Talk Books for 2019. I am sure with all the hot weather it has been a very good excuse to read lots of books and we will be ready to talk about them in the air conditioned comfort of the Library. I have read 3 or 4 good reads over the holiday and have a few for the swap table.
See you all on at 2 p.m. Tuesday 5th February at the Library.
Cup Day in November fell on the first Tuesday – so there is no report for 'Let's Talk Books' this month. The group will meet at the Library from 10 to 12 on Tuesday 4 December.
A smaller group than usual gathered at the Library with some good swapping of books, telling of dreams and a few jokes to round off the session.
Four Respectable Ladies seeking part time Husband provided a few laughs - this was set after the First World War when prospective husbands were scarce. The Last Chord written by Lisa Genova author of Still Alice, provided an insight into a concert pianist with MND, the books written by Lisa all have a theme of medical issues.
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermot begins with suicide and ends with murder and life that involved nuns in a convent, a very good read. The Girl with all the Gifts is a science fiction story which, interestingly, was written as a monthly blog and became a book.
Lorraine had a good month reading mysteries by Camilla Lackberg, James Paterson and Jo Nesbo, didn’t enjoy the last author very much. Shirley produced a book from 1898 titled Humorous Life in a Village by Honore De Balzac, a different method of writing to the current form. A biography of Edna Walling provided an interesting insight into her life. In Cold Blood is a non fiction novel by American author Truman Capote, we agreed it drew parallels with Gone Girl.
We will miss the November meeting as it falls on Melbourne Cup Day but will meet in the Library for our last gathering on the 4th December.
Our September chat began with a biography ‘Woman in a Wig: Joan Rosanove QC’. In Melbourne in 1920 Joan was the first woman admitted to the Bar. Being a Hebrew she endured a great deal of prejudice but persevered to become a QC. Whilst on the topic of strong women, Gail Kelly, the retired CEO of Westpac bank, was discussed, a difficult career for a woman in the corporate world. The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley, the wife of John Gould, describes how she illustrated 650 hand lithographs of birds and plants obtained by her husband. Also enjoyed was Under the Southern Cross by Judy Nunn, a well known Australian author.
A fun book was tabled `My Mother Always Used to Say’. A book that wasn’t well known by Bryce Courtenay,The Family Frying Pan, is a collection of stories about migrant families and the recipes they carried with them.
The Nobel Prize for Literature author Naguib Fahfouz wrote Love in the Rain, set in Cairo. This is a story about Patriotism and the struggle between old and new, highly recommended. Also recommended with intrigue and forgery was The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith. A different style of writing with no punctuation and written in the style of the day was the Peter Carey book The True History of the Kelly Gang.
A book purchased in the Redb4 bookshop was Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the popular Gone Girl. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout played on the interaction of siblings and the integration of Somali migrants in a small town in America, perhaps relevant at this time.
Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimmons was not enjoyed so much, but the biography of Phyllis Frost was well written.
Our next meeting is 2nd October.
Enjoy your reading.
Once again, a spirited discussion over books read, lots of books to swap or take to read. A few spy and crime book’s this month. Books read were Jasper Jones, Eleanor Olivant a debut novel by Gail Honeyman, The Gate at the Top of the Stairs by Laurie Moore. The Bookshop was read, the film was shown recently in Benalla, proving the point if people don’t support a project it will fail. Queen of the Spies about a woman who was a leading spy in the UK, a bit dull in parts. Renoir’s Dancer was enjoyed, a woman who was an artist’s model and became an artist herself, our reader pointed out women painters never receive the same recognition as men. Name Dropping by Kate Fitzpatrick, an easy style and enjoyable read. The Ladies in Black related the true story of Lillian Armfield the first female detective in Sydney appointed in the 1920’s in the days of the Razor Gangs. A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan, this book caused a deal of laughter as the main character was a Real Estate Agent who had keys to many homes in the town and got up to a bit of mischief. Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar was an excellent Australian story, as was Absolution Creek. The Prisoner by Kerry Tucker with Craig Henderson is written about the author’s time spent in prison for fraud; released in 2007, she became the person who welcomed and assisted new prisoners. The series Wentworth on television was based on this book. See you all on the 4th September.
We began our July meeting with Lorraine having read The Stealth Raiders, a book relating to Australian soldiers in the 1918 War, which then led to a discussion and history lesson on Sir John Monash and the Benalla bridge, most interesting insights to all these events.
We then went on to Annie Molloy which Liane Moriarty had written the prologue for. Alice contributed with a chat on Psychodrama and also the Essence of Tai Ji. The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers set in the slums of Uganda was a good story now a movie, about a 15 year old girl who learnt to play Chess and went on to play world competitions. Three Wandering Poms, 3 girls who came here as Ten pound Poms went off around Australia on Motorbikes.
The Naturalist’s Daughter by Tea Cooper, a girl whose father in 1808, did ground breaking studies on the platypus and subsequently died being stung by one, was given the task of taking his findings to Joseph Banks at the Royal Society in London, but unfortunately they wouldn’t accept this from a woman. Big discussion followed this revelation.
The Q & A Collection a series written by Margaret Throsby and Peter McCormack was fun, and Lyn spoke about artist Frida Kahlo a Mexican Artist who currently has a painting in the NGV. Welcome to My Country written by the daughter of Roy Marika who began the Land Rights Movement, this book was written about aboriginal customs.
Such an interesting meeting of book lovers and some good robust discussions about life in general. See you all in August.
We were a large group of 23 at our Tuesday meeting in June. It was lovely to have Louise Doddrell with us who told of an Anne Frank Exhibition at the Shepparton Library in November/December.
We then roamed from My Husband and I – an expose of the Queen’s marriage by Ingrid Seward, Murakami – Katka on the Shore, Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe written about pre European aboriginal farming sounded quite interesting and created some discussion. First Person by Richard Flanagan was deemed to have `difficult’ language.
Some other interesting reads were The Tattoist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, The Toymaker by Liam Pieper was also set in Auschwitz, The Cactus by Sarah Haywood, Iris and Ruby set in Cairo were all enjoyed. The Horse Bay written by Rupert Isaacson was relevant as Graeme Simsion who wrote The Rosie Project is coming to the Library.
To finish off an autobiography of Judge Michael Kirby and also The Prisoner by Kerry Tucker were appreciated.
Quite a few other books were discussed, it was a most enjoyable group discussion. See you all on July 3rd at 2 p.m.
This month we roamed through Brothels, mysteries, Convicts and memoirs.
The Life of Pam Eyres took the reader through the poverty of her early home life and the class situation in Britain. The five books in the series of the Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer drew comment as did Tracks on My Face by Barbara Holborow who was a magistrate in the Childrens Court for many years. Twist of Fate by Joanna Rees was set in Germany in 1971.
Also enjoyed by several members of the group was the Monsarrat Series by Meg and Tom Keneally, there are three in the series written about convict days in Sydney and Tasmania, very readable and well researched. Gallipolli Street, Mary Anne O’Connor, set in a street in Sydney, three families who were neighbours over the periods of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt gave an insight into the poverty in Ireland, Frank’s brother Malachy also wrote on the same topic.
Our Listening Book recommend this month was Short Stories by Agatha Christie. Another political history read titled Munich by Robert Harris contained some facts about the ill fated Munich Agreement as well as having a good storyline.
There’s a Bear in There is written by Merridy Eastman, an actor in the childrens program Playschool, who found herself employed as a receptionist in a Brothel.
The Birds at My Table, author Darryl Jones looked at people’s habit of feeding birds – do we do that because it makes us feel good or for the benefit of the birds?
Such a variety of reading this month, keep up the good work. See you first Tuesday in June.
A wide range of books this month encouraged much conversation. Tom Keneally seemed to win the vote as the most read author this month, with The Daughters of Mars, The Crimes of the Father and The Power Game the third book in the Monsarrat Series written by Meg and Tom Keneally.
9 Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks was enlightening as far as religious views of Islam, their teaching and culture and the many restrictions on women. A memoir written by Suzy Zail about her father the jeweller Emil Braun, The Tattoed Flower was sad and uplifting at the same time. The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego created some discussion, this book had been read in some of the CAE book groups. Laurie, the only gentleman in our group, contributed with a description of a very interesting talking book Offline by Anne Holt a Norwegian author, highlighting the ill feeling against Islam. The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide was an uplifting experience. Michael Connelly and the Harry Borsch popular series rated a mention, whilst Karen Joy Fowler wrote We are all Completely Beside Ourselves, nominated for the Man Booker Prize. It is beautifully written, if a little different in subject matter.
It is extraordinary how many different genres authors can write and command our interest.
Our next gathering is 1st May at 2.00 p.m. Happy reading everyone.
The highlight of our gathering on the 6th March was a great tale from one of our members who met Bryce Courtenay in person, it gave another aspect to this author and provided a lot of laughs in the telling, we are hoping for another instalment next month.
As usual a wide variety of books were read among them Poet by Michael Connelly, this book kept the reader engrossed to the last page. The Keeper of Lost Things was well written by Lyn Hogan.
Time of God of Gold by Wilbur Smith was praised for the excellent descriptions. The regular authors David Balducci, JD Robb (Nora Robb) are still read with enthusiasm.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell and the sequel Bring Up the Bodies were discussed along with Stateless by Anna Coslove. Alice enjoyed Everything is Teeth by Joseph Summer. An old favourite Alexander McCall Smith was mentioned and Minette Walters story The Last Hours set in England in 1348 about the Black Plague provoked comparison with Geraldine Brooks.
Laurie told us about Vision Australia who have a Radio Station that quote articles from the daily newspapers, unless you need it you don’t know about these interesting things are happening all around us.
Stephen Carrol a Melbourne author has written a book on The Spirit of Progress. Quite a few of us remembered the train going between Melbourne and Sydney.
Good reading everyone, see you on the 3rd April.
Our first meeting held in 2018 was very well attended and we welcomed quite a few new members.
Reading was a priority for many during the hot weather. A variety of books were shared which included `What the Dead Know’ by Laura Lippman, Anne Holt a Norwegian author who wrote the mystery The Death of a Demon, The Shetland Series by Anne Cleave, and The Music Shop author Rachel Joyce.
A book that evoked some discussion was The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester. The book launched at the Library by Glenna Thomson ‘Stella and Margie’ is being read by a few in the group and author Lucinda Ryley’s books are being enjoyed all over Benalla, Lucinda has written the Seven Sister series. Song of a War Boy and Finding Gobi tugged at the heartstrings.
Hope to see you all at 2pm on 6 March at the Library.
Facebook Post - Dorothy Webber, December 207
As there was no meeting in November due to Melbourne Cup our last gathering at the Library will be on Tuesday 5 December. I hope everyone has read lots of interesting books to discuss.
See you at the Library.
About 'Let's Talk Books'
Have you read a good book you would like to share with others? Bring your book along to the Benalla Library and tell the group about it. This is a casual discussion group about books/papers/ magazines we have read and enjoyed. You will hear about books others have read that you may be interested in reading too.
1st Tuesday 2-4 pm Benalla Library Meeting Room
Convenor/s and contact details
Geraldine McCorkell 5762 2134
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