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.

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

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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.

Please book your place online or call us on 6393 8132. Please note the current NSW Public Health Orders will apply. And this event will be going ahead as we have the minimum number of required bookings – thank you.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover October Discussion

The October Pageturners discussion was about the classic D.H. Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

The book was first published privately in 1928 in Italy and in 1929 in France. An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books, which won the case and quickly sold 3 million copies. The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and Japan.

Pageturners had mixed feelings about the book. Comments included: “there were long-winded discussions, the first 3 chapters were mind-numbing, there was a lot of details, things were compressed at the end, I enjoyed most of the novel, so many letters were sent and received, Connie and Mellors experienced true love, it is more of a political essay about power and social systems, why was it banned?, it is a different writing style to contemporary writing, it is an interesting take on society of the time, it is a social novel on the 1920s, it is a satire of the intellectual life of the mind, not the body, men came back from the war and searched for relationships, class was important at the time, it gave fresh eyes to PTSD, It was not plot driven but and opportunity to express views, I like the cover of this new edition, and the novel is in ways anti-capitalist, anti-industrial, and anti-war.”

The Penguin edition read by Pageturners includes an introduction by Doris Lessing and explanatory notes to add to the reading experience.

Voting ranged from a low 1 to a high 4, out of 5.

A novel link

One of the working titles for the book was  Tenderness. And recently a book called Tenderness by Alison Macleod was published.

Alison MacLeod’s Tenderness blends fact and fiction to produce an account, almost a cultural history, of Lawrence’s final novel. It’s a complex, non-linear piece opening in 1930 with a dying Lawrence, in exile from England where seized copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover have made him a wanted man.

It is the spellbinding story of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and the society that put it on trial; the story of a novel and its ripple effects across half a century, and about the transformative and triumphant power of fiction itself.

Article about Tenderness author:

Love writers who capture the pulse of life, says Booker Prize longlisted author Alison MacLeod- The New Indian Express

The Guardian Review for Tenderness

The Guardian article about the trial:

Lady Chatterley’s legal case: how the book changed the meaning of obscene | Studying law | The Guardian

The Guardian article on historical copy of the book:

UK Halts Export of ‘Lady Chatterley’ Copy From Famous Trial | Courthouse News Service

Next month

Join us at the Daytime Pageturners for a chat about The Magician by Colm Toibin or the Evening Pageturners talk about Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by Tom Keneally on Wednesday 10 November at Orange City Library. See you there!

Banned Book for October Discussion

1932 edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a novel by English author D.H Lawrence that was first published privately in 1928 in Italy and in 1929 in France. An unexpurgated edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity against the publisher Penguin Books, which won the case and quickly sold three million copies.  The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and Japan. The book soon became notorious for its story of the physical (and emotional) relationship between a working class man and an upper-class woman.

Pageturners meet on Wednesday 13 October at 12.30pm and 5.30pm to discuss this novel at Orange City Library.

Please note check-in, mask wearing, physical distancing and hygiene rules apply and as of Monday 11 October NSW Public Health Roadmap Orders will require us to view proof of your double vaccination. If you need assistance with downloading your COVID-19 Digital Certificate, please visit us at Orange City Library where we can offer technical assistance. Thank you & see you soon.

Upcoming Online Author Talks

Online Author Events:

Author Tom Keneally

Did you miss hearing about Tom Keneally’s latest novel Corporal Hitler’s Pistol?  How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, NSW, in 1933? You can watch the chat here.

Author Matt Murphy

Catch up with Matt Murphy talking about Rum, A Distilled History of Colonial Australia on Wednesday 15 September at 6.30pm via Zoom. Please book your place here. A link will be sent to you via email to join in from wherever you are.

Author Judy Nunn

Judy Nunn presents Showtime! Enjoy Judy Nunn talking about her latest book Showtime!  about comedy, tragedy and betrayal. Join Wednesday 6 October at 6.30pm. Please book your place here, a link will be sent to you via email.

Author Claire G.Coleman

Claire G. Coleman discusses Lies, Damned Lies on Thursday, 14 October 2021 6:30 pm. It is her non-fiction debut wielding the truths unseen in Australia’s history.  Please book your place here, a link will be sent to you via email.

These free online author events are supported by the NSW Public Libraries Association.

September Discussion Points

We missed our meetings today but Pageturner Di wanted to share her thoughts about our September books. Let us know your thoughts by adding your comments below.

Sincerely Ethel Malley by Stephen Orr

I thought the premise of the book was intriguing :  ” What if a man who never really existed had a sister!!” great idea.  Very easy to read, but I did get a little bit tired of all the detail after a while. It would be interesting to read the book not knowing the truth, but of course I googled the hoax straight away! Ethel was well painted as a loyal and loving sister who wanted to give her brother the recognition he deserved. Max Harris was certainly an interesting and somewhat unpredictable character. Interesting at the end we are told Ern died as a child. Why then do we hear about his discharge from the army and Ethel meeting his lover????  I have to say, I loved the cover. What a perfect depiction of someone who never was!  I was really sorry that we missed our discussion on this book as there were so many things to talk about.

The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald

For the first half of the book I was quite mesmerised and so taken by the two friends’ reaction to Stacey and the children’s deaths. Paula obviously did suffer PTSD from what she saw and found in her house. When that horrible man came into her surgery after his wife and child had visited earlier, I can just about believe that she would be very tempted to kill him to make the family safe. She obviously felt guilty that she couldn’t keep Stacey’s family safe. In her traumatised state, it is believable that she would give him the fatal injection. However, the stalking and second killing were a bit less credible, firstly for the fact she did it and secondly that her plan worked so perfectly. Then when the third family came to her notice down the coast, the coincidence started to bug me. Anita was quite savvy to put two and two together and suspect Paula – it’s not a conclusion I would have automatically jumped to! However, when Paula told her the truth she landed her with an unbearable burden. Speaking of coincidence, the fact that Anita was then covering the trial of another domestic violence victim in court was another bit that bugged me. The end was a bit too “tied up with a bow” for me. I also found it hard to believe that a good and honest policeman like Rohan would happily agree to the “ask no questions” agreement he made with Anita.

Despite all this however, I have to say that the book shone a bright and uncomfortable light on the huge rate of domestic violence in society and the amount of perpetrators who get away with it. Debra Oswald is to be commended for that over riding theme of her novel. It is a shocking part of society and any attempts by the author to draw it to the attention of the public should be lauded.

September/October News

Our Pageturners Daytime and Evening September meetings at Orange City Library have been cancelled due to the current NSW Public Health Stay-at-Home Orders. Hopefully we will be able to meet in October.

Please note Central West Libraries online services – ebooks, audiobooks and emagazines and movie streaming are available online 24/7.

We are also offering a home delivery service for library members who live in town and have reserved books while the Stay-at-Home Orders are in place.

Our upcoming books for discussion will be:

October:

Daytime: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Evening: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence+

November:

Daytime: The Magician by Colm Toibin

Evening Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by  Tom Keneally

December:

Daytime: Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by Tom Keneally

Evening: The Magician by Colm Toibin

Online Author Event:

Author Tom Keneally

Tom Keneally will discuss his new novel Corporal Hitler’s Pistol – a compelling story set in early twentieth-century Australia online Thursday 9 September at 12.30pm. 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?

Tom Keneally will be in conversation with Christine Dearness from Willoughby City Libraries and is supported by the NSW Public Libraries Association.

Here is the link to book your place and we will send you the link to join in: https://tinyurl.com/25zj72be

Happy Reading, see you soon.

The Family Doctor Discussion

About the book:

Paula is a dedicated suburban GP, who is devastated by the murder of a friend and her children by their estranged husband and father. Stacey and the children had been staying with her after fleeing his control, and Paula is haunted by the thought that she couldn’t protect them when they most needed it. How had she missed the warning signs? How had she failed to keep them safe?

Not long after, a patient with suspicious injuries brings her anxious young son into Paula’s surgery. The woman admits that her husband hurts her, but she’s terrified to leave for fear of escalating the violence, and defeated by the consistent failures of the law to help her.

Can Paula go against everything she believes to make sure one woman is saved, one child spared? She isn’t motivated by revenge. She’s desperately trying to prevent a tragedy . . .

A riveting, provocative novel about women’s fury, traumatic grief, new love, deep friendship, and the preciousness of life, The Family Doctor asks the questions: Should you cling to faith in a flawed system, or take control the only way you can? Can a good person justify taking a life to save a life?

Pageturners August Discussion:

Pageturners had lots to say about this book at the Daytime August Discussion and comments included: “Paula is passionate about looking after people, unrealistic – experienced trauma and goes back out being a doctor, characteristic of Debra Oswald and her writing – deceptively intelligently written – just on the edge of fiction, thoughtful and insightful, absorb the message, a balance of good men and bad, first third to half ingenious, towards the end, falls down a bit, spiraled towards the end, loved the ending, easy read, on balance a great read, full “beach read”, pick a concerning issue, ending a cop out, Anita character appropriate, stayed with me, men painted as particularly bad, no impression that she regrets or required justice, encouraged to read her other books, smart to start with murder, and I’m encouraged to read her other books.”

And here are some more Discussion Points to get you thinking:

Debra’s style of writing – easy to read? and comparison to her other books?

Was the story was realistic or unrealistic?

Was Dr Paula believable especially returning to work after the trauma she had witnessed?

The portrayal of men- balanced or not?

Did you enjoy the first half better than the second half ?

Discuss the relationship between the 3 friends?

How did you feel about the friend’s reaction to Paula’s “activities” ?

Was Paula right or wrong to do what she did?

Did Paula have any remorse or guilt?

What did you think of the ending? Was it unexpected or predictable?

Will it encourage conversation about domestic violence?

Next Pageturners:

Please note the next Pageturners discussion planned for Wednesday 8th September has been cancelled due to the ongoing NSW regional Stay-at-Home NSW Public Health Orders and closure of public libraries.

We hope we can return to meeting in Orange City Library soon.

The October book for discussion will be a classic read – Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. We have ordered extra copies of this book and if you reserve it through Orange City Library, we will be able to make contactless home deliveries in the Orange area while the Stay-at-Home are in place. Happy reading.