Pageturners September Read

The international bestselling author of The Lacuna, Flight Behaviour and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards – including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize – returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resilience and compassion in times of great upheaval.

2016 Vineland
Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy for her shattered life and family – or the crumbling house that contains her.

1871 Vineland
Thatcher Greenwood, the new science teacher, is a fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, and he is keen to communicate his ideas to his students. But those in power in Thatcher’s small town have no desire for a new world order. Thatcher and his teachings are not welcome.

Both Willa and Thatcher resist the prevailing logic. Both are asked to pay a high price for their courage. But both also find inspiration – and an unlikely kindred spirit – in Mary Treat, a scientist, adventurer and anachronism.

A testament to both the resilience and persistent myopia of the human condition, Unsheltered explores the foundations we build in life, spanning time and place to give us all a clearer look at those around us, and perhaps ourselves. It is a novel that speaks truly to our times.

We will be discussing Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver on Wednesday 11 September from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Please RSVP online or call the Library on 6393 8132. All welcome.

Fled Comments

Jenny Gwyn has proven herself a survivor. Faced with destitution after the death of her father, she toughens her skin to become a highwaywoman in order to support her impoverished family. But one fatal mistake leads to her arrest, and the king’s justice demands her death. Rather than beg for mercy, Jenny condemns the system that would have her choose between obeying the law and dying, and breaking it for a chance to live. Her ferocity convinces the judge to spare her life, sentencing her and dozens of other convicts to a transport across the world to help settle England’s newest colony in Australia.

Based on the true story of Mary Bryant, an iconic figure in the foundation lore of Australia as Great Britain’s penal colony, Fled by Meg Keneally is a sweeping, heart-wrenching account of one woman’s life-long search for freedom.

Pageturners spoke about Jenny’s (Mary’s) character, her husband Dan, the themes – survival, injustice, class, resilience, hardship endured by First Fleet, sailing dramas, navigation, trauma of losing children, Indigenous element, the cover design, the meaning of the title, and the challenges of writing historical fiction and non-fiction.

Comments included: “loving it, love her writing style and economy of words, not a word wasted, familiar with story of Mary Bryant, just like a movie – I’m right there beside her, clever writing, it just irked me that she had someone else’s name, easy to read, it fleshes out her story a lot, gruesome read, fleeing from poverty, the law, penal colony, abrupt ending, not all believable, she was not a hero, I learnt about the start of Australia, I wanted to know what her later life might have been like.”

Most Pageturners rated the book 4 stars out of 5.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 September from 5.30pm to discuss Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Miles Franklin Winner

Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, has been awarded to acclaimed Indigenous novelist Melissa Lucashenko for Too Much Lip, published by University of Queensland Press.

Chair of the judging panel, State Library of NSW’s Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville said, “Too Much Lip is driven by personal experience, historical injustice, anger and what in Indigenous vernacular could be described as ‘deadly Blak’ humour. Lucashenko weaves a (sometimes) fabulous tale with the very real politics of cultural survival to offer a story of hope and redemption for all Australians.”

The judges said: “Too Much Lip is a novel of celebratory defiance. Set in Bundjalung country, this fast-paced, hard-hitting narrative confronts political corruption, poverty, intergenerational trauma and various forms of violence and abuse, with humour, wit and fury. Lucashenko’s Goorie characters wrestle with personal wounds and long-held grievances. They exist on the margins: of power, the law, small-town society and, often, personal responsibility. Yet they know the stories passed down from their grandmothers. They remain connected to Country. When Granny Ava’s Island is under threat of development the Salter mob come into their own. Country must not and cannot be taken away.”

And yes, a Pageturner guessed this would win.

Meet Author Felicity McLean

Meet author of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone Felicity McLean fresh from her US tour at:

Orange Readers and Writers Festival Sat 3 August

Blayney Library Mon 5 August 11am

Molong Library Mon 5 August 2pm

Forbes Library Tues 6 August 2pm

Cowra Library Wed 7 August 2pm

Felicity is an international publishing sensation with rights to her book sold to the US, UK, Spain and France. Come along and ask Felicity your questions about the book.

August Meeting: Fled

The August meeting will be an opportunity to chat about Fled by Meg Keneally. Click here to RSVP for the meeting on Wednesday 14 August 5.30pm – 7pm.

Highway robber. Convict. Runaway. Mother. She will do anything for freedom, but at what cost?

Jenny Trelawney is no ordinary thief. Forced by poverty to live in the forest, she becomes a successful highwaywoman – until her luck runs out.
Transported to Britain’s furthest colony, Jenny must tackle new challenges and growing responsibilities. And when famine hits the new colony, Jenny becomes convinced that those she most cares about will not survive. She becomes the leader in a grand plot of escape, but is survival any more certain in a small open boat on an unknown ocean?

Meg Keneally’s debut solo novel is an epic historical adventure based on the extraordinary life of convict Mary Bryant.

Meg Keneally worked as a public affairs officer, sub-editor, freelance feature writer, reporter, and talkback radio producer, before co-founding a financial service public relations company, which she then sold after having her first child. For more than ten years, Meg has worked in corporate affairs for listed financial services companies, and doubles as a part-time Scuba diving instructor. She is co-author with Tom Keneally of The Soldier’s Curse and The Unmourned, the first two books in The Monsarrat Series. Fled is her first solo novel.

You can meet Meg Keneally at the Orange Readers and Writers Festival as part of the Orange Winter Fire Festival on Saturday 3 August from 10am – 3.30pm at the Hotel Canobolas. Tickets for $90pp to see five authors – Debra Adelaide, Meg Keneally, Felicity McLean, Tim Ayliffe and Summer Land are on sale at through the website or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Library Up Late Event

Join us after closing time at Orange City Library for our premiere Library Up Late event on Friday 19th July from 7pm – 9pm. As part of Central West Libraries’ One Library One Book project we are exploring Felicity McLean’s debut novel The Van Apfel Girls are Gone. Enjoy performances from the book brought to life by local actors.

An entertaining evening of storytelling awaits you. Experience this Australian bush mystery in a dramatic and immersive way. We ask the question: What really happened to the Van Apfel girls?

Following the performance, enjoy interacting with some of the more diverse elements of our library’s collection, through an engaging installation of curated objects. Please RSVP online via or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Miles Franklin Discussion

Our Pageturners read The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, Flames by Robbie Arnott and The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad.

Comments about The Lucky Galah: “I loved this book, it’s quirky and Australian, one of the most delightful books I have ever read, it had the background of the moon landing, the bird was a prisoner in his cage, it was told from the point of view of the galah.”

Comments about Boy Swallows Universe – “beautiful writing in parts, very contrived story, it is based on his real life, lovely use of language, it had a Hollywood ending, I enjoyed it, he had a difficult childhood, very readable, a love story to his family.”

Comments about Flames – “strange tale of what happens to a family after they die, set in Tasmania, they become plants, about their rebirth, death of the mother is important, its about the bonds of family, there is joy and sadness, the power of language. I enjoyed it, at the start I wondered what the hell I was in for, but it is different.”

Comments about The Lebs – “I didn’t like it, too much chaos and violence, the foul language, probably quite authentic but it didn’t’ hold me.”

After a discussion of the longlisted books for the Miles Franklin Literary award, Pageturners had a great time trying to decide on a winner from the shortlisted books.

The Shortlisted book are:

The shortlisted titles are:
The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette)
A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador)
•A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador)
The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text)
Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, UQP)
Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador).

Let us know your guess for the winner and a prize will be awarded for the correct prediction.

The 2019 winner will be announced on Tuesday 30 July.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 August at 5.30pn to discuss Fled by Meg Keneally. Meg will be one of our special guests at the Orange Readers and Writers Festival to be held on Saturday 3rd August from 10am to 3.30pm at the Hotel Canobolas, Orange. Tickets are $90pp, include morning tea and lunch, and are available from Orange City Library or go online to

Pageturners RSVP

Pageturners book discussion group will discuss the shortlisted and longlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award books at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10 July at 5.30pm. Please RSVP via or call the Library on 6393 8132.

The shortlisted titles are:
•The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette)
•A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador)
•A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador)
•The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text)
•Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, UQP)
•Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador).

See you there!

Miles Franklin Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award, worth $60,000, has been announced.

The shortlisted titles are:
•The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette)
•A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador)
•A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador)
•The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text)
•Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, UQP)
•Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador).

On behalf of the judging panel, author and literary critic Bernadette Brennan said, ‘The 2019 shortlist showcases a diverse and exciting range of Australian voices and experiences. Each writer has been unafraid to take risks in their narrative, in one or more of structure, subject matter or style. These books celebrate, for the most part, some of the complex, disparate and urgent aspects of contemporary Australian life.’

The judging panel also includes Mitchell Librarian at the State Library of NSW Richard Neville, journalist for the Australian Murray Waldren, book critic Melinda Harvey and Abbey’s Bookshop senior book buyer Lindy Jones.

Pageturners book discussion group will discuss the shortlisted and longlisted books at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10 July at 5.30pm. Please RSVP via or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Main Street Comments

In 1930 Sinclair Lewis became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.”

Pageturners scored the book in a range from 2 to 4.5 out of 5.

Once again there was so much to talk about. Some Pageturners loved the detailed descriptions, the character portrayals and storyline. While others found it dense, long-winded and bogged down. In the discussion we talked about small towns, American life in the 1920s, class distinctions and a female character frustrated with married life.

Comparisons were drawn with the main character Carol Kennicott and those in literature of Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina and the style likened to Charles Dickens.

Comments included “challenging language, lots of things didn’t follow through, everything she tried didn’t work, loved the Village Virus, dense and wordy, it challenged me, gobsmacked by the language, there was a power shift in the marriage, she had unreal expectations, time moved fast, I didn’t get very far into it, the Dr was well drawn and his life as a GP, excellent, great portrait of Gopher Prairie, loved the newspaper items, so much happened, it was too slow, hard to read – it’s a century old, I liked the book, lovely phrases and observations, he gets right inside Carol’s head, good picture of small town life,  very Peyton Place,  I just wanted Carol to get on with it, it was an insight into how to make a marriage work, it was too long a read – a huge edit is required,  I peservered with it, it has acerbic wit,  just delightful, I felt I was bombarded with an avalanche of facts.”

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 10th July at 5.30pm for a chat about books nominated for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. We will also try to pick the winner from the list.

Upcoming reads:

  • 10th July – Miles Franklin Literary Award longlisted books
  • 14th August – Books by Meg Keneally including Fled
  • 11th September – Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Here are some Main Street book covers: