Shuggie Bain

Reviewed by Heather O’Connor
Douglas Stuart
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
$32.99

This is the debut novel of a Scottish/American writer that was long-listed for the Booker Prize and has received rave reviews. It is set in Glasgow in the 1980s against the backdrop of mine and factory closures, as grim a story I have read as any set in Scotland and centred on the working class in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. Agnes Bain, a former beauty who expected much of … Read more »

Hamnet

Review by Heather O’Connor
Hamnet
Maggie O’Farrell

$22.99

I bought this book without any knowledge of it, but who can resist buying a special at Readings in Carlton? Hamnet is a novel inspired by what little is known about Shakespeare’s son, a twin to his sister, Judith, who falls ill unto death with the plague. It is worth reading the whole book for the heart-breaking description of how the plague spread around the world, finally arriving at Stratford-on-Avon. There are traumatic descriptions of how Agnes, Shakespeare’s wife and mother of … Read more »

Klara and the Sun

Reviewed by Heather O’Connor
Klara and the Sun
Kazuo Ishiguro
$32.99

It is a bit of a cliché, but this really is a much awaited novel – Ishiguro’s eighth and his first since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. It falls into the category of science fiction but don’t be turned off if that is not where you usually go. Klara is an Artificial Friend, bought as a companion to a very sick teenage girl, Rosie. … Read more »

The Paris Library

Janet Skeslien Charles
$32.99

Books like this are my dream! Books themselves are the central characters – collected, stored, borrowed, discussed and loved by staff and customers of libraries (and bookshops) the world over.
The library in this story is a real institution – the American Library in Paris. Staffed by multilingual librarians, it survived the Nazi occupation of Paris but only because of the total dedication of the staff and volunteers. They ensured that troops in the field received books and arranged home delivery when Jews were … Read more »

What is to be done? Political engagement and saving the planet

Reviewed by Heather O’Connor

What is to be done? Political engagement and saving the planet.
Barry Jones
$35.00

I can’t remember having reviewed a political book before but have made this an exception because I feel nostalgic for Barry Jones, the first Minister for Science in the Hawke government. I was also interested in how he would update his groundbreaking work of the 1980s, Sleepers Wake. That book had an enormous influence in debates here and overseas about … Read more »

Jack

Reviewed by Heather O’Connor
Jack
Marilynne Robinson
Virago Press $29.99

Recommended by Barack Obama as one of his top books for 2020. The rest of her fans have been eagerly awaiting this fourth in her Gilead series: Gilead, Home and Lila, each of which can be read as a stand-alone novel, but each is also an important part of the, not strictly sequential, series. Set in the late 1940s, the books centre on the Boughton and Ames … Read more »