The Promise: May Evening Discussion

Photo: David Parry/PA Wire

Pageturners evening discussion group enjoyed a lively chat about 2021 Booker Prize winner The Promise by South African author Damon Galgut.

The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.

Pageturners discussion was about the main characters – Pa, Amor, Anton, Astrid and Salome as well as the structure of the book, the writing, corruption, land ownership, religion, Apartheid and dark humour. Comments included: “what a dysfunctional family, some narrow character viewpoints, it is four funerals and a farm, really really enjoyed it, loved the use of language, found it extremely annoying, lack of punctuation, the symbolism was obvious, wasn’t saying anything new, lacked details on some incidents and characters, there were no quotations marks, I didn’t know who was speaking at times, it is not a conventional writing style, I found it clever, it was the story of Apartheid, the promise was a curse, just incredible writing, I haven’t read anything like it, really enjoyed it, just so emotional, has captured the times, there was so much complexity, I’m still thinking about it.”

Pagerturners rated the book 2.5 to 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Promise by Damon Galgut Reviews:

Harvard Review

The Guardian Review

Sydney Writers Festival Live & Local Event

Join us for this event The Limits of the Imagination on Saturday 21 May, 4-5pm at Orange Regional Gallery for the free Sydney Writers Festival Live & Local event.

Damon Galgut (The Promise), Larissa Behrendt (After Story) and Paige Clark (She is Haunted). Join host Sisonke Msimang to explore the responsibilities and opportunities of the creative writer and artist, and ask: who gets to tell a story? Please book your place or call Orange City Library on 6393 8132.

June meeting:

Our next meeting will held on Wednesday 8th June at 5.30pm to talk about our One Library One Book community read Cooper Not Out by Justin Smith.

Justin will be touring Central West Libraries in June. He will be speaking at Orange City Library on Tuesday 21st June 5.30pm – 7pm.

And some Booker Prize reading for you:

Booker Prize

International Booker Prize

History of the Booker and the Man Booker Prizes

May Daytime Discussion – Violetta

Chilean/American author Isabel Allende’s latest book Violetta generated plenty of discussion at Pageturners May Daytime discussion.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. . . .

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately, not one but two pandemics.

Pageturners talked about all the remarkable characters, and the pace of the book. Comments included “liked the book, easy to read, well written, her other books feature magical realism, it drew me in, but it was so fast, I was exhausted, it was one thing after another, I needed a breather, this is one of the best books we have done for book club, I liked the Spanish Flu and COVID-19 connection, I really wondered about the structure  – it was linear, it was a letter to her grandson, it reminded me of The Magician and the retelling of an historical period, enjoyed it, it was about domestic violence, it spanned a century, and enjoyed the writing.”

Pageturners rated the book 2 – 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviews:

New York Times

Better Reading

June meeting:

Interview The Guardian

Our next meeting will held on Wednesday 8th June at 12.30pm to talk about our One Library One Book community read Cooper Not Out by Justin Smith.

Justin will be touring Central West Libraries in June. He will be speaking at Orange City Library on Tuesday 21st June 5.30pm – 7pm. Be ready to ask questions.

April & March Discussions

River of Dreams Discussion

The publisher describes this book as “set on timeless Wiradyuri country, where the life-giving waters of the rivers can make or break dreams, and based on devastating true events, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.”

Our Pageturners had much to talk about with this book which beings with the floods at Gundagai in 1852.

Pageturners talked about language, Indigenous issues, and found it a door opening experience to discuss a range of social issues.

“it is more of a history, easy to read, it is a bit airbrushed and Mill & Boon, it is really controversial about a Aboriginal woman living a settler’s life, I didn’t know about the floods of Gundagai, it really opened my eyes and I’m still thinking about it, the most impressive part was about the floods, I don’t understand why she didn’t leave earlier, it really a love story, ther is a lot of Wiradjuri language, it could be more developed, the river gives and takes, I cound’t finish it, the love story was trivial, it shows the importance of Aboriginal knowledge and the Wiradjui language, this would be a good book for young adults, Louisa’s ideas never amount to anything, it lacked a truth.”

Ratings out of 5 ranged from 2 to 3.5 for the Daytime group and 3 to 4 for the Evening group.

After Story Discussion

Pageturners enjoyed their discussions about After Story by Larissa Behrendt.

The publisher described this book as “When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother Della on a tour of England’s most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past. Ambitious and engrossing, After Story celebrates the extraordinary power of words and the quiet spaces between. We can be ready to listen, but are we ready to hear?”

Pageturners March & April groups talked about “the change in language as the alternate chapters told Jasmine and Della’s stories, same events, different perspectives, really powerful,  it was a great read, loved the characters, we all know women like these characters, really liked Della, there was no rosy ending, she didn’t try to tie up the loose ends, it just spoke the truth, the gardens signified new beginnings, new growth for them, liked the infusion of the Australian landscape and English classics,  Della was very observant,  I think there was a lot of unnecessary details, she could’ve explored the characters more, it was so believable.”

Ratings ranged from 2 to 4 for both sessions.

Coming Up:

  • Wednesday 11 May – Daytime group discuss Violeta by Isabel Allende and the Evening group talk about 2021 Booker Prize winner The Promise by Damon Galgut.
  • Wednesday 8 June – Both the Daytime and Evening groups discuss the One Library One Book community read Cooper Not Out by Justin Smith.
  • Wednesday 13 July – Both Daytime and Evening groups read the Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist and try to guess the winner.
  • Wednesday 10 August – Daytime group read The Promise by Damon Galgut and the Evening Group discuss Violeta by Isabel Allende.
  • September, October, November and December reads to be announced.

Special Event: We are hosting the Livestream and Local from the Sydney Writers Festival this year. We will be streaming sessions in the new theatre at Orange Regional Gallery on Friday 20, Saturday 21, Sunday 22 May 10am – 5pm. There will also be a launch of the SWF Livestream Program featuring local author Stuart Lloyd on Thursday 19 April 5pm for 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange Regional Gallery. Please book your place online or call us on 6393 8132.

We would like to highlight the Limits of Imagination session on Saturday from 4-5pm that will feature Damon Galgut (The Promise) and Larissa Behrendt (After Story)!!!!

And a new event has just been added to replace the Derecka Purnell session. Derecka has withdrawn from the Festival. An interview with bestselling British author Sarah Winman will take her place. Sarah will talk about art, love and was in her joyous and richly drawn new novel Still Life. See you there!

More Holiday Reads

The Evening Pageturners Group talked about their Holiday Reads recently:

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – is about 4 people in a nursing home who investigate unsolved mysteries. The four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case. 4/5.

The second book The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman is more involved. It’s the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He is being hunted and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very big mistake. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a killer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? 4/5.

Love Stories by Trent Dalton  – I couldn’t get into Boy Swallows Universe but this is about people he interviews, some were funny, some sad but I really enjoyed it, it is rather sweet. 4/5.

The Countess of Kirribilli by Joyce Moragn – she’s a real person, went to England, entered into society, married a count, died young. Elizabeth von Arnim was an extraordinary woman who lived during glamorous, exciting and changing times that spanned the innocence of Victorian Sydney and finished with the march of Hitler through Europe. 4/5.

A Time For Mercy by John Grisham – Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. 

Beautiful World, Where are you by Sally Rooney. I couldn’t get into to it. Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

An Officer and A Spy by Robert Harris – about the Dreyfuss Affair, very good, most famous miscarriage of justice, compelling too. Dreyfus affair: political crisis, beginning in 1894 and continuing through 1906, in France during the Third Republic. The controversy centred on the question of the guilt or innocence of army captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been convicted of treason for allegedly selling military secrets to the Germans.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri  – gut wrenching, fleeing from Syria, similar to what’s happening today, can’t believe what they have gone through to survive. The publisher says moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling. 4.5/5.

Devotion by Hannah Kent – enjoyed it, divided into 3 parts, set in Prussia, the Ocean and South Australia, beautiful use of words, lyrical, it is a love story, bit unusual. The publisher says this long-awaited novel demonstrates Hannah Kent’s sublime ability with language that creates an immersive, transformative experience for the reader. Devotion is a book to savour. 4.5/5.

Still by Matt Nable – a murder mystery, story about Darwin in 1963, very interesting. The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t  need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to rick everything looking for answers. 2.5/5.

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight For Freedom and the Men Who Tried to Make her Disappear by Kate Moore about the lack of rights for unmarried women, sent to asylum, non-fiction, she did get many laws changed, well written enjoyed reading it. The publisher says from the New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman hero whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women’s rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.4.5/5

The Hobbit by JR Tolkein – read this for the first time, I really liked it. The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold 3.5/5.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – is a dystopian science fiction story. Set in the U.S. in an unspecified future, the book is told from the point of view of Klara, a solar-powered AF (Artificial Friend), who is chosen by Josie, a sickly child, to be her companion. I liked it, Klara learns how to please the store owner, learns by observing, there is symbolism, about the element of the sun, does it well, about observing relationships. 4/5

Reading the Seasons Books Holding Life & Friendship Together – charts the evolution of a friendship through candid letters between bibliotherapists Germaine Leece and Sonya Tsakalakis. Ignited by a shared love of reading, of finding a book for every occasion, every emotion – both for themselves and for their clients – their conversations soon confront life’s ups and downs. 

The Guernsey Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows. Couldn’t put it down, written as a set of letters, people create a literary society, people from different walks of life, learnt about the dramas of war. 4.5/5.

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson. An Australian author, first book, endearing characters, story draws you in, follows boy and his mum, told in two parts from their perspectives, they have a 5 year plan to go to Edinburgh Comedy Festival. Norman is not really funny, has psoriasis, itchy flare ups, very bittersweet, it is an hilarious road trip to Edinburgh, Norman find his own voice, and builds confidence. 5/5.

The Faith of Queen Elizabeth: The Pose, Grace, And Quiet Strength Behind the Crown by Dudley Delffs – chapters set up her story of devotion and public service, gathered information about her, walked through London, asked people’s opinion, easy read, enjoy British History. 4/5.

Billy Connolly Windswept & Interesting My Autobiography – interesting, engaging, makes you laugh, there is something special about him. 4/5.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty – a pageturner, easy reading style, set in Sydney, a whodunnit, a mother and father, involved in the tennis scene, 4 adult children, family both functional and dysfunctional, seems a little contrived, about domestic violence. 4/5.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams –  really enjoyed it. In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it. 4/5.

The Gold Rush by David Hill – about the gold rush in Australian easy read, includes Chinese and Aboriginal people. Publisher says David Hill relates the extraordinary people and staggering events of Australia’s great gold-rush years. From the mid- to late-1800s, people from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, including two future prime ministers of Great Britain and Australia, threw off their previous pursuits and made the often perilous journey to the goldfields, from where they would return either fabulously wealthy or demoralised and broken – if they returned at all.4/5.

Pageturners Holiday Reads

Daytime Pageturners had a great chat about their holiday reads. You may find your next book on this list:

The Premonition by Michael Lewis – about the pandemic, factual but written lie a story with scientists, epidemiologists et trying to explain how government prepared for pandemic. Also goes back in history to the Spanish flu.  It is well-researched, well written story with person al info about the characters involved and as well as the impact of social isolation. 4/5

Catch Us the Foxes by Nicole West – an Australian novel set in Kiama is rare, a bit disturbing, would’ve been better to have a fictional town, about homophobia and bullying and a murder, cults, lots of twists and turns, things happened that I didn’t expect. 3.5/5

When Things Are Alive They Hum by Hannan Brent – absolutely beautiful, well written, young sister had downs syndrome and co-morbidities, her name is Harper and I love the way she expresses herself. The author does have a downs syndrome sister, the older sister tries to save her with a heart transplant, they live in Hong Kong. 4/5

River of Dreams by Anita Heiss, indigenous story, beautifully written, based on fact where the river flooded and residents of Gundagai drowned, Aboriginals saved some of them, goes off on other tangents, it doesn’t preach, lovely and heartfelt. 4/5

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty observes family life of a tennis family, rising star, sibling rivalry, misinterpret communications, family history repeats, same style as the Family Doctor by Debra Oswald, contemporary writing style, a little implausible, seemed to be written as a film option. 3/5

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is based on a true story, describes the harsh living conditions in Iceland in the 1800s, really authentic, historical novel that narrates the final year in the life of the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland, Agnes Magnúsdóttir. 3.5.

The Promise by Damon Galgut – last year’s Booker Prize winner – reminds me of Howard’s End, The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for — not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled. It’s about  family relationships, about not keeping promises. 3.5

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – just fantastic.

Last of the Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman, about 4 women who went to Bonegella in Wodonga, it is Australian historical fiction, light read, drama, breaking down barriers of culture and language, those aged over 16 became a labourer or a domestic works. A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties. Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?

Rum – A Distilled History of Colonial Australia by Matt Murphy – I heard him interviewed about early Australian history, about the impact of Rum on the early settlement of Australia, there was a conscious decision not to have currency, you could barter with rum, there are also lots of footnotes, I learnt the difference between overproof and underproof, there are opinions on the different governors, mentions of John Macarthur, a good section on Bligh, it is not a long read and it is interesting. 4/5.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (he wrote All the Light We Cannot See which is being filmed) – this is a large book it is actually 3 books in one, it is a group of stories about different people, set in Constanople, one is born disfigured and considered the devil’s child and becomes and oxen whisperer, there is a girl in a convent, a siege is set up in a library, all the stories are interwoven. 4/5.

The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly – it is fast paced read but is more about the inner workings of the LAPD and the relationship of two cops Harry Bosch and Renee Bollard. They have to investigate a crime where a person was murdered during the tradition of firing shots into the air on New year’s Eve. 3/5

At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski – about older people and what their family would think. When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

Still Life  by Sarah Winman – the first 50 pages couldn’t get into, set in England, hard to describe. Publishers describe it as a big-hearted story of people brought together by love, war, art and the ghost of E.M. Forster. Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate. 4/5.

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri is about philosophy and people. Maids went to the Italian islands and went missing, abused by males while songbirds are poached to make money. The publishers says with infinite tenderness and skill, Christy Lefteri has crafted a powerful story about the unseen who walk among us, cleaning our homes and caring for our children – what it is to migrate in search of freedom, only to find yourself trapped. Songbirds is a triumphant exploration of loss, the strength of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds of courage, and of love. 4/5

Upcoming March Reads

Drum roll please…Pageturners upcoming reads will be:

  • Wednesday 9 March – Daytime group discuss Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, River of Dreams by Anita Heiss and the evening group talk about After Story by Larissa Bernhardt.
  • Wednesday 13 April – Daytime read After Story by Larissa Bernhardt and the Evening group discuss Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, River of Dreams by Anita Heiss.
  • Wednesday 11 May – Both the Daytime and Evening groups discuss the One Library One Book community read to be announced. 
  • Wednesday 8 June – Daytime group discuss Violeta by Isabel Allende and the Evening group talk about The Promise by Damon Galgut.
  • Wednesday 13 July – Both groups read the Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist and try to guess the winner.
  • Wednesday 10 August – Daytime group read The Promise by Damon Galgut and the Evening Group discus Violeta by Isabel Allende. 
  • September, October, November and December reads to be announced. 

See you there!

December Discussion – The Magician

The publisher described The Magician by Colm Toibin as “a stunning marriage of research and imagination, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer (Noble Prize winner Thomas Mann) whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire.” 

“The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable.”

Pageturners had a lot to say about this book and it sparked an interest to read’s Mann’s first novel Buddenbrooks. Many were not sure if they would like it, but many ultimately did enjoy it.  Comments included: “ liked the story, it was epic, very detailed, seemed we read every conversation he ever had, intelligent, interesting book, typical well-educated Germans, couldn’t believe he didn’t go to funeral,  I didn’t know much about Germany at this time, explores family dynamics, you have to remember this is fiction, you can accept his story, is the title about smoke and mirrors in his life?, I learnt a lot, easy to read, heavy on conversation, he was self-indulgent, very strong characters and very self-centred, Mann had a privileged writer’s life, well fictionalised, and I didn’t know Mann was a successful novelist.”

Ratings out of 5 ranged from 3.5 to 4.5.

For more discussion points go to the Reading Guide.

Check out the publisher’s website.

Visit the author’s website.

And here is a review from The Guardian.

Next meeting:

The next Pageturners meetings will be held on Wednesday 9 February at 12.30pm and 5.30pm at Orange City Library. We will be talking about a Holiday Read you would recommend. Please book your place online via eventbrite.com.au or call us on 6393 8125. See you soon!

December Discussion – Tom Keneally

How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

As Pageturner Paul says, Tom Keneally spins a yarn of historical, social and cultural fibres around Kempsey in 1933, a country town in a Depression year.  His novel Corporal Hitler’s Pistol is good on the trauma of war – The Great War and the Irish Civil War – and on the themes of power and prejudice.

Pageturner comments included:  “Didn’t feel good reading it, pleased when I finished it, too much on Irish history, quite surprised how much I enjoyed it, I wonder how much was real and how much was fiction, it touched on so many things – feminism, Aboriginals, religions, the Irish, Catholics, small towns, I liked it, easy to read, I had to check on the Irish history – it was confusing who was who, women couldn’t voice their opinion, there was a lot on homosexuality, there was also the damage caused by War, PTSD, I think Keneally really captures the small town mentality with everyone’s attitudes to the cow cockys, Aboriginals, women, power of policeman etc, it just goes to show nothing has changed, the character Chicken Dalton was very brave, it is a bit unbelievable,  he could have more of the times like the Depression, I really liked it and the language and slang and nicknames.

Scores out 5  (5 being the best rating) ranged from 3 to 5.

Earlier in the year the New South Wales Public Libraries Association hosted a talk by Tom Keneally. You can watch the chat here.

And here is a review by The Guardian.

Next meetings:

The first Daytime and Evening meetings of the New Year will feature chats about holidays reads – to inspire your next read on Wednesday 9 February 2022. See you then!

Upcoming December Discussions

Join us for the Daytime Discussion about the novel Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by Tom Keneally on Wednesday 8 December at 12.30pm. Please book your place online or call us on 6393 8132.

How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated. Corporal Hitler’s Pistol speaks to the never-ending war that began with ‘the war to end all wars’. Rural communities have always been a melting pot and many are happy to accept a diverse bunch … as long as they don’t overstep. Set in a town he knows very well, in this novel Tom Keneally tells a compelling story of the interactions and relationships between black and white Australians in early twentieth-century Australia.

***

And you can watch Tom Keneally talking about the book here courtesy of the NSW Public Libraries Association.

***

And the Evening Discussion group on Wednesday 8 December at 5.30pm will chat about The Magician by Colm Toibin. Please book your place online or call us on 6393 8132.

When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, which had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family.

Colm Tóibín’s epic novel The Magician is the story of a man of intense contradictions. Although Thomas Mann becomes famous and admired, his inner life is hesitant, fearful and secretive. His blindness to impending disaster in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever and fascinating wife, Katia, while his own secret desires appear threaded through his writing. He and Katia deal with exile bravely, doing everything possible to keep the family safe, yet they also suffer the terrible ravages of suicide among Thomas’s siblings, and their own children.

In The Magician, Colm Tóibín captures the profound personal conflict of a very public life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century.

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, has won the Costa Novel Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Upcoming November Discussions

Join us for the Pageturners daytime discussion about this new book – The Magician by Colm Toibin – at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10 November at 12.30pm – 1.30pm.

When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, which had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family.

Colm Tóibín’s epic novel The Magician is the story of a man of intense contradictions. Although Thomas Mann becomes famous and admired, his inner life is hesitant, fearful and secretive. His blindness to impending disaster in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever and fascinating wife, Katia, while his own secret desires appear threaded through his writing. He and Katia deal with exile bravely, doing everything possible to keep the family safe, yet they also suffer the terrible ravages of suicide among Thomas’s siblings, and their own children.

In The Magician, Colm Tóibín captures the profound personal conflict of a very public life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century.

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, has won the Costa Novel Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Please book your place or call us on 6393 8132. Please note the current COVID-19 NSW Public Health Orders apply.

The Pageturners Evening Group will talk about Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by Thomas Keneally on Wednesday 10 November at 5.30pm – 7pm.

How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

Corporal Hitler’s Pistol speaks to the never-ending war that began with ‘the war to end all wars’. Rural communities have always been a melting pot and many are happy to accept a diverse bunch … as long as they don’t overstep. Set in a town he knows very well, in this novel Tom Keneally tells a compelling story of the interactions and relationships between black and white Australians in early twentieth-century Australia.

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