November Discussion: Cedar Valley

small Cedar valley

After seeing author Holly Throsby “in conversation” at Orange City Library some of us had a little extra insight into the book Cedar Valley. There was a lot of discussion as usual with some loving the book and others disliking it. The scores out of five reflected this and ranged from 1 to 5.

From the publisher:

On the first day of summer in 1993, two strangers arrive in the town of Cedar Valley.

One is a calm looking man in a brown suit. He makes his way down the main street and walks directly to Cedar Valley Curios & Old Wares, sitting down on the footpath, where he leans silently against the big glass window for hours.

The other is 21-year-old Benny Miller. Fresh out of university, Benny has come to Cedar Valley in search of information about her mother, Vivian, who has recently died. Vivian’s mysterious old friend, Odette Fisher, has offered Benny her modest pale green cottage for as long as she wants it.

Is there any connection between the man on the pavement and Benny’s quest to learn more about her mother? Holly Throsby is the perfect guide as Cedar Valley and its inhabitants slowly reveal their secrets.


There was a lot of discussion about the ending.  Some Pageturners found the end frustrating with not all the loose ends tied up, but others found if they thought about it for a while most things were resolved. Here are the Pageturner comments:

“Constant unknowns annoyed me, characters well drawn, coincidence she arrived the same time as the man in the street, there was no ending, there two stories and two mysteries, characters were believable, it was drip drip drip revelation, intricate rather than complex, the author obviously loves small country towns, heaps of characters and they all have their part to play, my appreciation went up as I went along, I liked the book – you could put together the pieces yourself, Vivian was not believable, she was a trailblazer – a feminist – a free spirit, I found it banal and boring and very difficult to get through, the writing was flat, I didn’t like the structure, she built a whole story around another event – the Somerton Man, little things annoyed me like the policeman drinking instant coffee and Australianisms like Weetbix etc, found it odd to have a python in the roof, I really enjoyed the leisurely pace, detailed characterisation, I could think of people in real life the characters related to, it was folksy, candid, classic, and unaffected, I thought there would’ve been a more definite ending, the meaning of his real name was ‘small’ – that didn’t get a mention, I noticed the connection between the crown and moon on the comb – their last names, many themes were played out – identity, betrayal, deceit, honesty, loyalty etc.”

Somerton Man

For more about the Somerton Man listen to this ABC Radio program.

Vocabulary of appeal

Earlier in the year we had a discussion about Vocabulary of Appeal from Novelist that could be used to describe a book. This is an optional useful guide to help you find the words to explain a book you are reading and to aid book conversations.


And we know everyone is still getting used to booking but it does help with our planning and putting out chairs and catering. If you are able to access the internet, please go online to eventbrite (you can also access it via the events button on the front page of the website) and book your place, if you are unable to access the internet please phone Jasmine directly on 6393 8125. And if you prefer to email please use Thank you.

Next Book

The next book for discussion is Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak.

Let me tell you about our brother.
The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay.
Everything happened to him.
We were all of us changed through him.

The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world.

It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.

A miracle and nothing less.

Markus Zusak makes his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt and inventive novel about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current: a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for a painful past.

Markus Zusak is the bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief and The Messenger. His books have been translated into more than forty languages, to both popular and critical acclaim. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two children.

The discussion will be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 12th December at 5.30pm.


Cedar Valley Read for November

small Cedar valley

Here’s a review for Holly Throsby’s Cedar Valley by Marie Matteson at Readings Carlton VIC:

“What is wonderful about Cedar Valley is the sense of a complete community. Throsby keeps a skilful pace, checking in with the towns inhabitants, both old and new. She moves you along so well at the pace of the people of Cedar Valley that you do not realise straightaway the ways in which she is subverting the expectations of the small-town mystery. Unlike the quiet small town with a mysterious death and a new arrival in which the visiting investigator solves the mystery, Cedar Valley, and before it Goodwood, solve their mysteries internally. All that you will learn in Cedar Valley you will learn from the inhabitants of Cedar Valley, old and new. And that is a very satisfying journey.”

Join the discussion about Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby at Orange City Library on Wednesday 14th November at 5.30pm. Please RSVP online through eventbrite or call the library on 6393 8132.

Man Booker Prize Winner

Man Booker Milkman

Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber) has been announced as the winner of the 50th Man Booker Prize.

Burns, 56, who was born in Belfast and lives in East Sussex, drew on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles to write Milkman. Her first acclaimed novel, No Bones, was also set in this period. She saw off competition from two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer. Read more on the Man Booker website. 

October Biographies Discussion

Biography 1 (Small)

Pageturners discussed memoir, autobiography and biography at the October meeting. Everyone read a different book and shared it with the group:

Mary Shelley by Muriel Spark – found out more about her – the author of Frankenstein. 4/5

Publisher: Traces the life of Mary Shelley, describes her relationship with her poet husband, and discusses her own literary achievements.


Michael Jacob Quigley WWI Diary – Grandfather from mother’s side, very moving, he was university educated, highly intelligent, lots of Australian sayings, descriptions of leaving Australia and the landing at Gallipoli.


Kurt Fearnley Pushing the limits: Life, Marathons and Kokoda – About the life of wheelchair athlete Kurt Fearnley who grew up in Carcoar, he mother was told not to bring him home from hospital, he’s won three Paralympic gold medals, seven world championships and more than 35 marathons and he crawled the Kokoda track, and the China Wall. At  school he had a teacher who helped him get into wheelchair racing and the community bought him a racing wheelchair. He’s inspiring.  5/5


Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth – totally enjoyed it, more of a memoir, series of little vignettes and reflections, not the same stories as in the TV series. 4/5

Publisher: The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey. Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London’s East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colourful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can’t speak English, to the prostitutes of the city’s seedier side.


A Kangaroo Loose in Shetland by Lachlan Ness – prose boring with some interesting tidbits about scenery.

Publisher: A heart-warming story, full of humour and occasional pathos (for after all, it’s all about life), is a “must read” for those who may want to visit the North Isles and discover for themselves the remarkable beauty that abounds in the ancient islands of Shetland


A Fence Around the Cuckoo and Fishing in the Styx by Ruth Park – New Zealand born Australian author, heard Muddle-Headed Wombat on the radio, then read her books Harp in the South about slums in Sydney which was quite controversial at the time, she grew up very poor, spent her early childhood on her own, but lived to learn, read and write, married writer D’Arcy Niland, wrote travel stories including Sydney. But my favourite books are her autobiographies. She won a Miles Franklin award and her characters are amazing and she has a feel for atmosphere.


Kitty’s War: The remarkable wartime experiences of Kit McNaughton by Janet Butler – There are bits from her diary and other letters, it is slow going and a bit tedious.

Publisher: The remarkable wartime experiences of Kit McNaughton Kitty’s War is based upon the previously unpublished war diaries of Great War army nurse Sister Kit McNaughton. Kit and historian Janet Butler grew up in the same Victorian district of drystone walls, wheatfields and meandering creeks, except many decades apart. The idea of this young nurse setting out on a journey in July 1915 which would take her across the world and into the First World War took hold of Janet Butler and inspired her to research and share Kit’s story.


Jane Austen: A Life by Carol Shields – it’s getting tedious, so little facts about Austen’s life they have compared her family life to those in her books and make lots of assumptions.

Publisher: With the same sensitivity and artfulness that are the trademarks of her award-winning novels, Carol Shields explores the life of a writer whose own novels have engaged and delighted readers for the past two hundred years. In Jane Austen, Shields follows this superb and beloved novelist from her early family life in Steventown to her later years in Bath, her broken engagement, and her intense relationship with her sister Cassandra. She reveals both the very private woman and the acclaimed author behind the enduring classics Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice,  and Emma. With its fascinating insights into the writing process from an award–winning novelist, Carol Shields’s magnificent biography of Jane Austen is also a compelling meditation on how great fiction is created


Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley – to read.


Thicker Than Water by Cal Flynn – it is two stories in a way, the story of her journey to discover Angus McMillan. Thought he was a great explorer opening up Gippsland and she’s very proud of her ancestor, then discovers he killed Aborigines. She takes on the guilt of what he did.


Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill – she was brought in the world of Scientology and was left with other children in an apartment, then a ranch and would only see parents occasionally. It is really full-on and crazy what she had to do as a child. 4/5

Publisher: Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member of Sea Org—the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organisation, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.


The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd. I like reading fiction but I had this book on my shelf. It is about Burke and Wills and is well written, reads like a novel, she did a lot of research, I can recommend it. I read it in half a week. 4.5/5

Publisher: In 1860, an eccentric Irish police officer named Robert O’Hara Burke led a cavalcade of camels, wagons and men out of Melbourne. Accompanied by William Wills, a shy English scientist, he was prepared to risk everything to become the first European to cross the Australian continent. A few months later, an ancient coolibah tree at Cooper Creek bore a strange carving: ‘Dig Under 3ft NW’. Burke, Wills and five other men were dead. The expedition had become an astonishing tragedy.


The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History – from the Duke of Marlborough to Winston Churchill by Mary S Lovell. The first part was hard, it’s about the start of the family, lineage. I felt I needed a family tree. Then it’s about Winston Churchill, his life, the people he met. 4/5

Publisher: There never was a Churchill from John of Marlborough down who had either morals or principles’, so said Gladstone. From the First Duke of Marlborough – soldier of genius, restless empire-builder and cuckolder of Charles II – onwards, the Churchills have been politicians, gamblers and profligates, heroes and womanisers. The Churchills is a richly layered portrait of an extraordinary set of men and women – grandly ambitious, regularly impecunious, impulsive, arrogant and brave. And towering above the Churchill clan is the figure of Winston – his failures and his triumphs shown in a new and revealing context – ultimately our ‘greatest Briton’.


Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. This is an easy read, based on true fact, very floury. 5/5

Publisher: A beautifully imagined tale of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre


Joe Cinque’s Consolation by Helen Garner – it’s a true story of two students, a girlfriend ends up killing her boyfriend at a dinner party with all their uni friends.

Publisher: In October 1997 a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests-most of them university students-had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder.


Theresa May autobiography – really enjoying it. She is to be admired. She also wears a diabetic pump and it not embarrassed to show it.


Kick – the True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK’s forgotten sister and the heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne

This is one for anyone interested in the Kennedy family. A story about JFK’s forgotten sister Kathleen known as “Kick” who went to London when her father was US Ambassador and she made her debut. At 24 years of age she married Major William John Robert “Billy” Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington and heir apparent to the 10th Duke of Devonshire. He went back to war and was killed. They had been married a few months but had only spent 5 weeks together as man and wife. She was later killed in a plane crash during a storm with a married man (the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam) when they were on their way to the French Riviera. She had planned to marry him. She was 28. 4/5


The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14th November at 5.30pm to discuss the new book by Holly Throsby called Cedar Valley. Please book your place online through eventbrite.

You are also invited to attend a launch for Cedar Valley with special guest Holly Throsby on Wednesday 24 October at 5.30pm at Orange City Library. To book your place please go online through eventbrite. 

November Read: Cedar Valley

small Cedar valley

The next read for Pageturners book discussion group on Wednesday 14th November at 5.30pm is Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby.  Please RSVP online through eventbrite. This is her second novel after the success of Goodwood.

You are invited to meet Holly and hear her talk about her new novel Cedar Valley at Orange City Library on Wednesday 24th October. Please book your place for this special event online through eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. The event is supported by Collins Booksellers. We hope to see you there.

About the book: From the author of the bestselling novel, Goodwood, comes a compelling mystery set deep within the hearts of Cedar Valley and its inhabitants.

On the first day of summer in 1993, two strangers arrive in the town of Cedar Valley.

One is a calm looking man in a brown suit. He makes his way down the main street and walks directly to Cedar Valley Curios & Old Wares, sitting down on the footpath, where he leans silently against the big glass window for hours.

The other is 21-year-old Benny Miller. Fresh out of university, Benny has come to Cedar Valley in search of information about her mother, Vivian, who has recently died. Vivian’s mysterious old friend, Odette Fisher, has offered Benny her modest pale green cottage for as long as she wants it.

Is there any connection between the man on the pavement and Benny’s quest to learn more about her mother? Holly Throsby is the perfect guide as Cedar Valley and its inhabitants slowly reveal their secrets.

About the author: Holly Throsby is a songwriter, musician and novelist from Sydney, Australia. She has released five solo albums, a collection of original children’s songs, an album as part of the band, Seeker Lover Keeper, and has been nominated for four ARIAs. Holly’s debut novel, Goodwood (2016), was a critically acclaimed bestseller, shortlisted for the Indie and ABIA awards as well as the Davitt and Ned Kelly awards

Man Booker Prize Shortlist

Man Booker Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced:

  • Anna Burns (UK), Milkman (Faber & Faber)
  • Esi Edugyan (Canada), Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Daisy Johnson (UK), Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
  • Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
  • Richard Powers (USA), The Overstory (William Heinemann)
  • Robin Robertson (UK), The Long Take (Picador)

The Man Booker Prize is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This year’s shortlist recognises three writers from the UK, two from the US, and one from Canada.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges: the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 16 October.

September Read: Warlight


The September read for Pageturners on Wednesday 12th at 5.30pm is Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.

About the Warlight: In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself–shadowed and luminous at once–we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey–through facts, recollection, and imagination–that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

About the author: Michael Ondaatje is the author of several award-winning novels, as well as a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. Among other accolades, his novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and the Golden Man Booker in 2018; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto, Canada.

Miles Franklin Winner


Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, worth $60,000, has been awarded this year to Michelle de Kretser for her novel The Life to Come. This is the author and book Pageturners book discussion book did not pick!

It is the second Miles Franklin for de Kretser, who won in 2013 for her novel Questions of Travel, and the third time in the award’s 61-year history that a woman has won more than once (Thea Astley won the Miles Franklin four times; Jessica Anderson won twice).

Read more on the official Miles Franklin Literary Award website:

Read more on ABC News:

Congratulations Michelle de Krestser.



Next Up Author Michael Ondaatje

English Patient

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje opens in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of the Second World War where Hana, a nurse, tends to her sole remaining patient. Rescued from a burning plane, the anonymous Englishman is damaged beyond recognition and haunted by painful memories. The only clue Hana has to unlocking his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes detailing a tragic love affair.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Bloomsbury Publishing) has been announced as the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize. The winner of this special one-off prize was chosen by the public. All 51 previous winners were considered by a panel of five specially appointed judges, each of whom was asked to read the winning novels from one decade of the prize’s history, before the books faced a month-long public vote on the Man Booker website.

About the author: Michael Ondaatje is the author of several award-winning novels, as well as a memoir,  a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. Among other accolades, his novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and the Golden Man Booker in 2018; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller prize, and the Prix Medicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto, Canada.


The September book for discussion at Pageturners is Michael Ondaatje’s latest novel Warlight. The discussion will be held on Wednesday 12th September at 5.30pm.