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Six books we’ve read and loved recently 📚

Six books we’ve read and loved recently 📚

A Great Hope by Jessica Stanley

We’re already mentally casting Australian actors in the miniseries that has to be made of this book. A Great Hope takes place in Melbourne during the early 2000s where John Clare, a major political figure, has died in unusual circumstances. Each new character is introduced in relation to him; his elegant wife, his distant son, his troubled daughter, his loyal colleague, his injured lover, and each becomes fascinating in their own right with complex backstories and motives. The story builds with the tension of the Australian political rollercoaster of the Kevin ’07 election and subsequent governmental, societal, and - for John - personal fallout.

It’s a compulsively readable and extremely satisfying mix of murder mystery and family story. With touches of politics, crime and relationship intrigue, this is the kind of novel that makes you cancel your Saturday night plans so you can get just one-more-chapter closer to finding the killer. Consider yourself warned.

Brown Girls is a deeply immersive reading experience about a group of women of colour and their experiences of growing up in Queens, and it is absolutely exquisite! Each chapter is a poetic vignette told in the choral 'we' which moves the story chronologically from the girls' childhood to adulthood. The result, as the blurb promises, is a "a collective portrait of childhood, motherhood, and beyond, and is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and marginalisation in America. It is an account of the forces that bind friends to one another, their families, and communities, and is a powerful depiction of women of colour attempting to forge their place in the world. For even as the duelling forces of ambition and loyalty, freedom and marriage, reinvention and stability threaten to divide them, it is to each other--and to Queens--that the girls ultimately return."

At least one member of the WellRead Team audibly yelped when we got our hands on the new Tessa Hadley. Her writing is the kind of detailed realism that makes every novel a joy, and each new release feel like a gift. Free Love is set in the 1960s United Kingdom. Phyllis lives a sensible life with her civil servant husband, one daughter and one son. But her middle-aged and middle-class decorum is broken after a comically awkward dinner party where she shares an illicit kiss with the young son of a family friend.

Soon Phyllis has moved to swinging London and into a semi-demolished building populated by artists, immigrants and would-be bohemians. Her lover Nicholas is absent and naïve and as the mood and era move along a family secret is aired, leaving us to wonder what exactly Phyllis has gained and lost.

Free Love has both the sensitivity and interiority of her acclaimed novels The Past and Late in the Day and, like all Tessa Hadley fiction, it allows you to effortlessly luxuriate in the assuredness of her craft.

If you're looking for an utterly feel-good rom-com with a dash of bookishness, a heap of pop-culture references and a nod to Nora Ephron, then look no further - Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp ticks all those boxes and more. 

The story centres around Rory who is a classic Type A personality and therefore gets off on achieving her 12,000 steps for the day and having a healthy circadian rhythm. Despite this, Rory is not happy. No amount of list-making or chia puddings seems to facilitate the feeling of being on the right track, and so she takes an uncharacteristic step: Rory lets the clues of The New York Times crossword puzzle dictate all her decisions for a week. Did we mention it was fun? 

A warm and witty Australian debut by an author who clearly knows a thing or two about crafting a charming rom-com (Allsopp also has a podcast on the subject).
Love Marriage by Monica Ali

It’s been almost twenty years since her Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Brick Lane and Monica Ali is back with a charming contemporary comedy.

After a whirlwind romance, London doctors Yasmin Ghorami and Joe Sangster are engaged. When their families meet, both become uncertain about the future they ‘should’ want. Yasmin carries the weight of her Indian-born parents’ ‘Love Marriage’, after they famously eschewed a traditional arranged match. Joe struggles with the boundaries of his role as the only son of an apparently progressive, artistic mother. Both are confused by desire.

As well as the will-they-or-won't-they relationship drama, the novel deals with themes of race and culture, liberal woke white people, and the false idea of authenticity when it comes to racial identity. Even with all that grist, Love Marriage is a breezy delight- a funny, captivating and cross-cultural rom-com with a cast of loveable characters.

Practising Simplicity by Jodi Wilson

Jodi Wilson is a mother of four, yoga teacher, writer and photographer, and has just released her first book about small steps and brave choices for a life less distracted.

Practising Simplicity (the name of her blog and book) shines a light on all of the best things in life that don't cost money and how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle, whatever your circumstances, and create meaningful change. For Jodi, deciding to live in a tiny home on wheels was at first terrifying but the simplicity of this lifestyle proved to be the answer to anxiety and overwhelm.

A gorgeous hardback with practical advice, evocative writing and Wilson's own stunning photography, this is the kind of joyful reading experience that shifts your mindset and helps you to discover what is truly important.
Feb 20, 2022

We’ll now I want to read ALL these books!

Katie Cahir

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