The good stuff on a great man

July 28, 2016
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The good stuff on a great man

Olivier, by Philip Ziegler (Maclehose Press, RRP $40) My impression of Sir Laurence Olivier is a sort of vague one of him playing Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, or declaiming Shakespeare effortlessly. Either that or I associate him with Vivien Leigh, to whom he was married for several years. Beyond that, I have a vague...

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A bit saggy but still a good read

April 1, 2016
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A bit saggy but still a good read

Innocence, by Dean Koontz (HarperCollins, RRP $35): Addison Goodheart lives below the city, out of sight of people whose first impulse if they see his face is to try to commit violence. Addison reads, and lives quietly, and goes up into the city at night, when the world is quiet. He’s in the library...

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Harrowing and heartbreaking

March 17, 2016
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Harrowing and heartbreaking

The Road Between Us, by Nigel Farndale (Random House, RRP $38) In 1939, two young men in a Picadilly Circus hotel are unaware that their lives are about to change in drastic and unforseen ways. Charles and Anselm are arrested for homosexuality. Charles is discharged from the RAF, and Anselm is sent to a...

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There’s so much to like about Billy

December 17, 2015
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There’s so much to like about Billy

Still Foolin ‘Em, by Billy Crystal (Macmillan, RRP $40): Billy Crystal is one of those actors that everyone knows of. His career is wide-ranging and various, and it feels like he’s done a little bit of everything. Still Foolin ‘Em is part autobiography, part reflecting on ageing, and it’s all pulled together by Crystal’s...

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Close but no cigar, old bean …

October 26, 2015
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Close but no cigar, old bean …

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, RRP $35) I’m a big P G Wodehouse fan. I’ve been reading his novels and short stories on and off since high school, when friends of mine put me on to Jeeves and Wooster. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks is an effort...

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Not-so-gentle coming-of-age story

August 15, 2015
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Not-so-gentle coming-of-age story

Snake Bite, by┬áChristie Thompson (Allen & Unwin, RRP $30) Jez is 17, bored in a downtrodden Canberra suburb, and coming to realise she’s in love with her best friend, Lukey. It’s summertime and Jez has little to do but hang out, get high and argue with her mum. She takes it for granted that...

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Quirky thriller is a little off-balance

July 9, 2015
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Quirky thriller is a little off-balance

Dog Will Have His Day, by Fred Vargas (Harvill Secker, RRP $37) Former special investigator Louis Kehlweiler has to find new ways to fill in his days now that he no longer works for the Parisian police force. Kehlweiler gathers information, takes care of his toad (yes, he has a pet toad), and patiently...

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Good pace in author’s first novel

April 17, 2015
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Good pace in author’s first novel

A Necklace of Souls, by R L Stedman (HarperCollins, RRP $25): Dana is a princess in the hidden Kingdom of the Rose, a sheltered, magical land that allows no war or disease to penetrate its borders. Protected by the Guardian – always a woman of the royal family who pays a terrible price –...

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This fairytale’s not for children

December 17, 2014
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This fairytale’s not for children

The Mijo Tree, by Janet Frame (Penguin, RRP $25): This is an odd little tale. Published posthumously, the manuscript gathered dust in the Hocken Library archive for many years. Illustrated to great – and somewhat dark effect – The Mijo Tree tells the deceptively simple tale of a small seed who wishes to see...

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