Pageturners held an interesting discussion about Richard Flanagan’s latest book The Living Sea of Waking Dreams. It is a story for our times about a dying mother and her children, their relationships and our dying planet.
Pageturners comments included: “No. just no, better things to do with my life, there was no punctuation, not a fan, the story mimics what we do to the planet, it was bleak and hopeless, I appreciated it, it was tortured and forced, its was so complex, it was mystical, the missing body parts!, we were bombarded with the environmental issues, I liked discovering the family dynamics, it was very clever, it was emotional with layers, the dray was a recurring theme.”
The February discussion on this book included conversations about our disappearing selves, the impact of social media, that we are tested by suffering, and what happens when you don’t live your best, authentic life. Some compared it to All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton. And interestingly some said it left them with a sense of hope.
Ratings this week ranged from 2.5 to 4s. So another Pageturners book that generated much discussion and varying views.
Pageturners March Day Time Group talked about A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville. The book is about truth and fiction and the life of Elizabeth Macarthur.
Comments from Pageturners included “I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Kate Grenville writes eloquently and she fictionalises Elizabeth Macarthur’s life in shrewd and playful ways, some things haven’t changes in relation to the position of women, women of the time “made do”, it was really interesting, she was the first educated woman in the colony, her husband was unfair to her, I wondered what was true and what wasn’t true, you have to be aware it is historical fiction, she had a fire inside her but didn’t let on, she was skilful in handling her husband, she made him think tings were his idea, women have been doing this for years, Grenville writes well, I enjoyed it, , this is by far the best of all her books, I didn’t understand the review which said “ a toxic appeal of false stories.”
There was a lot of discussion about whether you can use the past to create new fiction and whether descendants would appreciate things in the book being told as true, but may not be so.
The rating for this group ranged from 3..5 to 4 ….so high scores for this book.
We are excited to announce the chosen book for this year’s One Library One Book community read and the Pageturners read for April
Richard Anderson’s book Small Mercies has been chosen for the innovative program that aims to have everyone in the region reading and discussing the same book. Author Richard Anderson will be touring the Central West in April to discuss the book with audiences.
It is hoped One Library One Book will be widely embraced on social media with readers of Small Mercies posting discussions about the book and photos of themselves with the book on the facebook page.
About the Book:
A husband and wife living on a severely drought-afflicted property take a brief break, only to find that their relationship is parched, too.
After enduring months of extreme drought on their modest freehold, farming couple Dimple and Ruthie face uncertain times on more than one front. Ruthie receives the news every woman dreads. Meanwhile, a wealthy landowner, Wally Oliver, appears on the local radio station, warning small farmers like Dimple and Ruthie that they are doomed, that the sooner they leave the land to large operators like him, the better.
Bracing for a fight on all fronts, the couple decide to take a road trip to confront Oliver. Along the way, not only is their resolve tested, but their relationship as well.
Desperate not to dwell on the past but to face up to the future, Dimple and Ruthie make a crucial decision they soon regret. And when the storm clouds finally roll in across the land they love, there’s more than the rain to contend with.
Told with enormous heart, Small Mercies is a tender love story. It is a story of a couple who feel they must change to endure, and of the land that is as important as their presence on it.
About the author:
Richard Anderson is a second-generation farmer from northern New South Wales. He has been running a beef-cattle farm for twenty-five years, but has also worked as a miner and had a stint on the local council. Richard is the author of two rural-crime novels, Retribution and Boxed, both published by Scribe. He lives with his wife, four dogs, and a cat.
Praise for the book:
“A fine-grained study of a marriage and a land in crisis…A wonderful book.”
Pageturners had a wonderful time talking about two well-regarded authors Richard Flanagan and Kate Grenville, Now we don’t want to give too much away…. but here is what some of the discussions were about. The lunchtime group discussed The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan:
It was a mixed response for this book by Richard Flanagan. Some people enjoy his works and others do not. In this book some felt he was clearly grieving for the way we live and treat the planet while others thought there was too much symbolism. Comments included “I really enjoyed it, I’m still thinking about it, there was magic realism, the missing body parts bit was weird to read, he was ticking off issues, it was so depressing, didn’t enjoy it, it’s a worthwhile subject, he was jumping on the bandwagon, it was well done, it started off so strangely – I wondered what language is this? dark and intense, I really loved it and I will remember this one for a long time.”
The conclusion was there may be more to this book than we realise. Intrigued? Can’t wait to hear what the Evening Pageturners think about it.
The next Pageturners lunchtime meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 March at 12.30pm at Orange City Library to discuss A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville. Please book your place online or call 6393 8132.
The Pageturners evening group also had an interesting chat about Kate Grenville’s A Room Made of Leaves. Again we don’t want to give too much away but the outstanding thing was an extremely high rating of mostly 4s out of 5 – from everyone! Discussions centered mostly around “fact or fiction”. Comments included “excellent, a lot of subtext, good pace, descriptive language, very creative, easy read, like the way she writes, Macarthur was a difficult man, one for the women, loved the title” and more…to be continued.
Other books mentioned in discussions were: The Land of Avocado by Richard Glover, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whithead.
The next Pageturners evening meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 March at 5.30pm at Orange City Library to talk about The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. Please book your place online or call 6393 8132.
Join us on Wednesday 10 February at our 12.30pm meeting at Orange City Library for a discussion on The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Australian author Richard Flanagan. It is an ember storm of a novel. This is Booker Prize-winning novelist Richard Flanagan at his most moving—and astonishing—best. Please book your place.
Pageturners Evening Meeting
Come along for our evening discussion on Wednesday 10 February at 5.30pm at Orange City Library to talk about the latest novel A Room Made of Leaves by Australian author Kate Grenville. What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented. Please book your place. See you there!
Please note COVID-19 health and hygiene restrictions apply – hand sanitising and social distancing – thank you.
Come along for our evening discussion on Wednesday 10 February at 5.30pm at Orange City Library to talk about the latest novel A Room Made of Leaves by Australian author Kate Grenville. What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.
Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none: this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear—at last!—what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought.
At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age: the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.
Kate Grenville’s return to the territory of The Secret River is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand by one of our most original writers.
Join us on Wednesday 10 February at our 12.30pm meeting at Orange City Library for a discussion on The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Australian author Richard Flanagan. It is an ember storm of a novel. This is Booker Prize-winning novelist Richard Flanagan at his most moving—and astonishing—best.
In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying—if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight.
When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.
Richard Flanagan’s novels have received numerous honours and are published in forty-two countries. He won the Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North and the Commonwealth Prize for Gould’s Book of Fish. A rapid on the Franklin River is named after him.
Pageturners lunchtime discussion of Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
For most of the lunchtime group, James Baldwin was a new discovery and the book intense and challenging.
Comments included: “absolutely brilliant but navigating the Pentecostal view was exhausting, well-written, voices sounded right for the characters, best bits were the chapters of John’s point of view, lots of depth, really glad I read it, a provocative book”.
Discussion ranged over many topics including the portrayal of intergenerational violence, the hypocrisy of the church and its leaders, how religion was something for the characters to hold on to and give them control of something in their lives. We talked about the depiction of homosexuality in the setting of the book and the 1950’s when it was written and how similar shop front churches still exist in Kenya in 2018.
Five star ratings were from 3 to 4.
A reading suggestion was to hunt out How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn (published in 1939) that has similar themes of rage, beauty, compassion and the sense of community centred around the church. You may like to delve into the controversy about Llewellyn’s authenticity whereas Baldwin’s writing is steeped in his own experiences.
Pageturners evening discussion of All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
The evening group loved this book: the language, the storytelling and the portrayal of good and evil characters.
Comments included: relief that at last this was a book that could be enjoyed and savoured, a bit more of a male book, you could see in your mind what was described, interesting side stories such as the effects of the attack on Darwin brilliantly described, like Molly, the book is “poetic and graceful”, bit fantastical, those with good hearts make the book hopeful and uplifting.”
We talked about the symbolism depicted in the cover: the flowers, the butterfly and even Yukio’s plane; the awful reality of the family passing on their trauma; the extreme but believable characters; how did Longcoat Bob get this European garment?; the magical aspects of the Berry curse, the environment, the Aboriginal culture and how Molly sees the sky as her companion.
The 5 star ratings were very high between 4 and 5.
Wednesday 10 February 2021
Daytime Meeting: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
Evening Meeting: A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
Wednesday 10 March 2021
Daytime Meeting: A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
Evening Meeting: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
Congratulations to 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart and his novel, Shuggie Bain! A book one our Pageturners mentioned last week!!!! Too spooky!
Actor Stuart Campbell performs a reading from Booker Prize shortlisted author Douglas Stuart’s book, Shuggie Bain, streamed during the 2020 Booker Prize winner ceremony.
About the book
It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.
Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.
About the author
Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain is his first novel.
Join us for an online Zoom Webinar Tuesday 8th December at 6.30pm with author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris. Heather now shares her own story and explores the art of listening in her first non-fiction book Stories of Hope.
Active listening is a skill Heather has developed through a lifetime of experience; from childhood encounters with her great-grandfather in rural New Zealand through her career in a hospital where she dealt with many people going through tragedy and loss. As Heather lovingly recounts her many meetings with Lale it becomes clear that her skill as an active listener gave Lale Sokolov space and confidence to tell his story.
Reading this book is to walk with Heather as she listens to Lale over years as he told her his incredible story for The Tattooist of Auschwitz, publishes her novels, undertakes promotional tours and travels the world. Her courage and curiosity lead her on a remarkable journey where she meets an array of exceptional people.
Especially in this uncertain time, Stories of Hope provides inspiration and tools for anyone who is keen to deepen their connections to others by enhancing their listening skills.
Book your place for this Zoom Webinar on Tuesday 8 December at 6.30pm. You will be able to ask Heather questions using the Chat feature.