February Evening Read

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.

See you soon.

February Lunchtime Read

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.

Dec Lunchtime Discussion

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.

Upcoming Meetings:

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

See you soon

Shuggie Bain Wins Booker

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.

Heather Morris Online Talk

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.

Tell it on the Mountain Discussion

Pageturners enjoyed their discussion of Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin at the November evening meeting.

It describes the course of the 14th birthday of John Grimes in Harlem, 1935. Baldwin also uses extended flashback episodes to recount the lives of John’s parents and aunt and to link this urban boy in the north to his slave grandmother in an earlier South.

The Pageturners comments included: “far too much religion, it lost me, religion was a huge part of their lives, hypocrisy of religion, intense characters, it made an impression, very intense, symbolic power, felt for the wives and the children, it is about power and control, corruption, highlights the reality for women, shows the huge hold religion can have on people, amazing it all happens in the space of one day, loved how the story was told by weaving back through the lives of characters, loved Aunt Florence, nothing has changed, there needed to be less hollering and more telling of the story, religion gave them hope.

And as usual our discussion digressed and it didn’t take long before we were talking about Trump and US elections, a recent ABC 4 Corners episode about women in politics, morals, behaviour, Bill Clinton, Hollywood and more.

Our 5 star ratings ranged from 2.5 to 4.

And here’s a review from The Guardian.

The next meeting wlll be held on Wednesday 9 December at 5.30pm to talk about All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton. Please book your place.

Shimmering Skies Discussion

Pageturners enjoyed an interesting lunchtime discussion about All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton. A story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. All Our Shimmering Skies is an odyssey of true love and grave danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies.

Comments from the discussion included: “enjoyed it, semi-magical quests, fairytale, beautiful, loved the setting, bleak beginning, appreciated historical and fantasy element, didn’t expect it to be so uplifting, really was a pageturner, so poetic, appreciative of the bush, you notice the writing, a bit far-fetched with things dropping out of the sky, loved it, the travelling companions have gifts like any quest, you can compare it with the Wizard of Oz, a lot of themes,  it is almost a Young Adult book, the war bits on Darwin were well written, the mother was inspirational – she was so peaceful and clam, the curse made it a little mysterious, it was about the glowing lust for gold or capitalism and taking responsibility.”

5 star ratings ranged from 2.5 to 4.

Here are discussion questions from the publisher.

And a review from The Guardian.

And a young adult book mentioned in the discussion was The Bombing of Darwin by Alan Tucker.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 9 December at 12.30pm to discuss Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin. The book he said he had to write.

Join in the Reading Hour

In November, Australians of all ages and from all walks of life are invited to share and celebrate the joys of reading.

Whether you’re picking up a book for the first time or your head is already stuck in one, join us on Thursday 12 November for Australian Reading Hour.

Book a reading chair at Orange City Library, pick up a book and read to yourself or the children in your life, while enjoying a delicious beverage and petit four prepared by Groundstone Cafe.

Children can also book in for the evening event 5pm – 6.30pm to do craft, build a cubby (bring your own blankets and pillows and snacks) for some fun evening reading in the Library.

Unwind, get inspired and find joy in books! From islands, blue shores, bushland to red heart – Australia Reads.

November Evening Read

Join us for this classic read. Born in 1924 in New York City, James Baldwin published the 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, going on to garner acclaim for his insights on race, spirituality and humanity.

Baldwin said, “is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” Go Tell It On The Mountain, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935.

Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

Join in the discussion on Wednesday 11 November from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Bookings via eventbrite required. Please note due to COVID-19 NSW Health Regulations the group will be limited to 10 and refreshments will not be served. Please bring your own beverages and snacks to enjoy. See you then.

November Lunchtime Read

Join us for a discussion about the new book All Our Shimmering Skies by Australian author Trent Dalton. All Our Shimmering Skies is set in Darwin in 1942. As Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag, next to a map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress, and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Beyond the bush lies the treasure. Close behind them trails the dark. And above them, always, are the skies.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. This book comes two years after the release of his phenomenal bestseller, Boy Swallows Universe – a book which took home a record-breaking five Australian Book Industry Awards and was longlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Pageturners Lunchtime Meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 November at 12.30pm. Bookings via Eventbrite required. Please note due to COVID-19 NSW Health Regulations the group will be limited to 10 people and refreshments will not be served but you are welcome to bring your own lunch and beverage to enjoy in the Library. See you then.