American Dirt

Pageturners Book Discussion Group will be joining the rest of the world talking about the most controversial book on the planetAmerican Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – at the next meeting on Wednesday 11th March at Orange City Library at 5.30pm.

It is the unforgettable story of a mother and son fleeing a drug-cartel to cross the US-Mexico border.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.

Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.

For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

Read more about the controversy.

Please RSVP online or call 6393 8132.

The Weekend Discussion

Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?

There was lots to talk about including the four friends, a dying dog, white sofa, ageing, secrets, affairs, relationships, friendships, home, children, holidays, beach houses and packing up a home.

Ratings out of 5 ranged from 2.5 through to 4.

Comments included “I enjoyed the book, I became impatient with Jude and Adele, the dynamics of the relationship were very good, some of their back story was open ended. I wanted to know more about Wendy’s relationship with her children, it was a little slow, the wheels fell off at the end, the pace was slow, it was all about the things that go along with ageing, wondered why were they friends in the first place, all so different, they were connected through their inner lives, they were all coming to terms with their age, brought up the older women homeless issue, they all have less than when the book started, it was a bit contrived, there were some cutting phrases like the drink with the “blot clot”, well written, easy to read, there was the metaphor of the dying dog and the women ageing, it covered some social issues, it was about the nature of friendship, total Hollywood ending”

Here is the link to The Guardian article about themes in the book.

ABC Radio Interview Charlotte Wood on getting older.

More reviews on Charlotte’s website.

Our next discussion will be held on Wednesday 11 March at Orange City Library at 5.30pm to talk about American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. It is much appreciated if you can let us know you are coming along. Please RSVP online via Eventbrite or call 6393 8132. Thank you and see you then!

Have you completed our survey? See the previous post.

Feb Read: The Weekend

Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?

They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold.

Without Sylvie to maintain the group’s delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.

The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book: a celebration of tenderness and friendship that is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is our book for discussion when Pageturners meets on Wednesday 12 February 2020 from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Please let us know you are coming along with an RSVP online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132 – thank you.

Year of Challenging Reads

Looking back over the past 12 months Pageturners delved into a range of thought-provoking reads and interesting discussions. Here’s the list for 2019:

Holiday Reads

Shell by Kristina Olsson

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Mainstreet by Sinclair Lewis

Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist

Fled by Meg Keneally

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood


Let us know your suggestions for next year. Our first read for 2020 will be The Weekend by Charlotte Wood to be discussed on Wednesday February 12 from 5.30pm to 7pm at Orange City Library.

Happy holiday reading everyone!

December Chat: Biographies

Pageturners had a great chat about biographies they read for the December meeting. Many took the opportunity to explore the life of a celebrity or person they were keen to know more about. Here is the list of books from the discussion:

A Recipe for Life – Mary Berry – “very entertaining and witty”. 3.5 stars. In this touching, evocative and fascinating memoir, we accompany Mary on her journey of nearly eighty years; a life lived to the full, with a wicked sense of fun and an eye for the absurd, it is the life of a delightfully traditional but thoroughly modern woman.

Redback One – The True Story of an Australian SAS Hero by Robert Macklin – “true story of Nev Bonner, insight into the SAS”. 4 stars. Elite SAS Patrol Commander Stuart ‘Nev’ Bonner takes us inside the extraordinary and dangerous world of secret combat operations in this explosive, behind-the-scenes look at life inside the SAS. A world where capture means torture or death, and every move is trained for with precision detail to bring elite soldiers to the very peak of fighting ability.

Beyond the 39 Steps Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan , “personal aspects of his life keeps you reading.” 4 stars. John Buchan’s name is known across the world for The Thirty-Nine Steps. In the past hundred years the classic thriller has never been out of print and has inspired numerous adaptations for film, television, radio and stage, beginning with the celebrated version by Alfred Hitchcock.

Yet there was vastly more to ‘JB’. He wrote more than a hundred books – fiction and non-fiction – and a thousand articles for newspapers and magazines. He was a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda, member of parliament and imperial proconsul – given a state funeral when he died, a deeply admired and loved Governor-General of Canada

Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins – “loved it, so much detail” 4 stars. A revealing study of the Queen and her court–their daily lives, concerns, topics of conversation, meals, living condition, travels, successes and failures–that places them firmly within the historical context of 16th century Britain. “…gives us the most intimate portrait…An outstanding and fascinating book.”–Punch.

Facundo – Domingo Faustinao Armento –3 stars. An educator and writer, Sarmiento was President of Argentina from 1868 to 1874. His Facundo is a study of the Argentine character, a prescription for the modernisation of Latin America, and a protest against the tyranny of the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1835–1852). The book brings nineteenth-century Latin American history to life even as it raises questions still being debated today—questions regarding the “civilised” city versus the “barbaric” countryside, the treatment of indigenous and African populations, and the classically liberal plan of modernisation. Facundo’s celebrated and frequently anthologised portraits of the caudillo Juan Facundo Quiroga and other colourful characters give readers an exhilarating sense of Argentine culture in the making.

Becoming by Michelle Obama – “really good, her personal story”. 5 stars. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerising storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it-in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations-and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Bonkers – My Life – Jennifer Saunders – “it’s laugh out loud funny.” 4.5 stars. Bonkers is full of riotous adventures: accidentally enrolling on a teacher training course with a young Dawn French, bluffing her way to each BBC series, shooting Lulu, trading wild faxes with Joanna Lumley, touring India with Ruby Wax and Goldie Hawn.

There’s cancer, too, when she becomes ‘Brave Jen’. But her biggest battle is with the bane of her life: the Laws of Procrastination. As she admits, ‘There has never been a Plan. Everything has been fairly random, happened by accident or just fallen into place. I’m off now, to do some sweeping…’ Prepare to chuckle, whoop, and go bonkers.

Daisy Bates in the Desert: A Woman’s Life Among the Aborigines by Julia Backburn– “a difficult read, bit disjointed, but enjoyed it, found out about Daisy Bates”. 3 stars. In 1913, when she was 54 years old, Daisy Bates went to live in the deserts of South Australia. And there she stayed, with occasional interruptions, for almost 30 years. She left a detailed record of her life in her letters, her published articles, her book The Passing of the Aborigines, and in notes scribbled on paper bags, old railway timetables and even scraps of newspaper. But very little of what this strange woman tells about herself is true. For her there were no boundaries separating experience from imagination; she inhabited a world filled with events that could not have taken place, people she had never met. In Daisy Bates in the Desert Julia Blackburn explores the ancient and desolate landscape where Mrs Bates says she was most happy.

The Man Without a Face: the unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen. “He’s an interesting man and I was interested in Russia.” The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low- level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsay Hilsum, “really fascinating life. She was passionate about life and right and wrong from an early age.” 3.5 stars. There is also a movie of her life call A Private War. Marie Colvin was glamorous, hard-drinking, braver than the boys, with a troubled and rackety personal life. She reported from the most dangerous places in the world and her anecdotes about encounters with figures like Colonel Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat were incomparable. She was much admired, and as famous for her wild parties as for the extraordinary lengths to which she went to tell the story. Fellow foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum draws on unpublished diaries and interviews with friends, family and colleagues to produce a story of one of the most daring and inspirational women of our times.

Next meeting:

The first Pageturners meeting of the New Year will be held on the second Wednesday of the month 12 February 2020 from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library to discuss The Weekend by Charlotte Wood. Until then Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year!

PS. Here is a list of descriptive words known as the Vocabulary of Appeal to help you talk about your latest read. Which ones apply to The Weekend?

What makes a great biography?

Immerse yourself in the life of someone else, then share your read with Pageturners book discussion group. The next meeting will be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 11 December from 5.30pm – 7pm to talk about a biography of your choice and what makes a great biography. We look forward to hearing about your read. Then discover our next read for the New Year!!!!

Please RSVP via this link or call the library on 6393 8132.

Praise for The Testaments

Praise be. Pageturners could not stop raving about The Testaments by Margaret Atwood at the November meeting. The sequel to The Handmaids’ Tale had everyone talking.

Comments included: “It’s a timely publication, it has 3 points of view, loved Nicole’s contemporary voice, it is a cautionary tale about knowledge and power, love how she writes, thought-provoking, about what motivates people, you don’t know what you would do in that situation, the structure of society is breaking, Aunt Lydia was complicated, there were a lot of character names, loved the future symposium, it is very clever, there are some things unresolved and Atwood sets it up for another sequel.”

There was also discussion about the Cold War, Trump, past conflicts, WW2, Nazis, spying, parallels with historic events, the book title, Gilead and all the characters.

More on Gilead.

You might like this Time article.

The average rating was 4 out of 5 – high praise indeed.

The next meeting will be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 11 December from 5.30pm – 7pm to talk about a biography of your choice. We look forward to hearing about your read.

Library Up Late: Chris Hammer

Australian Author Chris Hammer photograph taken at Broulee on the NSW South Coast. Photograph by Mike Bowers

Join us for Library Up Late when we open Orange City Library after hours on Wednesday 20th November 7pm – 9pm with bestselling Australian author of crime thriller Scrublands, Chris Hammer, talking about his new release Silver. He will be in conversation with ABC Central West Radio’s Luke Wong.

This is a special event where we dim the lights, add refreshments and introduce you to the Library after hours. Supported by Collins Booksellers, Orange. Please book your place online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. Limited places. See you there!

November: The Testaments

In The Testaments – the electrifying sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred? The recently released book will be up for discussion on Wednesday 13 November from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Please RSVP online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, is a modern classic. Now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel. More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.