What we're reading

A Room made of leaves – Kate Grenville

I’d never heard of John MacArthur, an early settler of the colony of New South Wales, and an Australian ‘worthy.’ This story is an imagining of the life of his wife, Elisabeth, told in her words.  MacArthur is compulsively argumentative, a schemer, and ruthlessly ambitious.  Elisabeth marries him because she has no option, and decides to make…

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Thin Places – Kerri nic Dochartaigh

Kerri ni Dochartaigh grew up in Derry in the very midst of the Troubles, and this is a visceral account of the lasting impact of that experience.  ‘Thin Places’ is a richly satisfying read, harrowing at times, drawing in so many interesting themes – grief, loss, the solace of the natural world, the power of…

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Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi

Gifty’s brother, Nana was the beloved son of his mother, popular, and a gifted sportsman.  The impact of his death on Gifty and her mother forms the nucleus of a story which explores addiction, mental health, and the tension between scientific research and religious belief. If that sounds a heavy mix, it doesn’t feel like it,…

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Featherweight – Mick Kitson

I’m a huge fan of ‘Sal’, Mick Kitson’s first book, and was curious to see how he would make the change to writing a historical novel. Annie Perry is sold by her starving family to a drunken prizefighter, exchanging her Romi life for one in the increasingly industrialised town of Tipton. Annie is one of…

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