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BOOK REVIEW: Do You Love Me or What? by Sue Woolfe

Monday, May 29, 2017




BLURB:


A brilliant collection of short stories by the bestselling, award-winning author of Leaning Towards Infinity, Painted Woman and The Secret Cure


Do You Love Me or What? is a collection of eight sparkling, nuanced short stories from one of Australia’s most celebrated and loved writers. Written in elegant, shimmering prose, Sue’s stories are woven with themes encompassing love, loss and yearning, memory and identity, the desert and water, and people who live on the periphery of society. Her sentences are spare and evocative, yet paint fully realised pictures that speak of the poignant, shared experiences of the nature of relationships, past and present.


MY THOUGHTS:


A collection of eight elegant and poignant short stories, Do You Love Me or Not? is concerned with the (often failed) search for connection and love between humans. Each story introduces a new character, yet there are connections between the stories in setting, theme and language. 


Some of the stories are achingly sad, others frightening, and some tender and heart-warming. ‘Small Talk’ was my favourite. It tells the story of a woman who goes to the desert  and wants to connect with the local Indigenous people, but finds that the silence between them is more difficult to bridge than she had imagined. It is not until she listens to the silences that she begins to understand. The story is gorgeously written and vibrant with colour and sensual detail.


‘By early evening of that day, she’d travelled beyond the mountain range and was in country so flat, with trees so low, that when she turned on her heel, she saw the entire circle of the horizon spinning by. She didn’t put up her tent but lay under the dome of stars, watching the trajectory of the Southern Cross move directly above her toes, then above her stomach, above her chest, above her head. Until dawn, the black sky was spangled all the way down to the ground, all around her.


She felt herself become braver.’ 


I also loved ‘The Dancer Talks’, told from the point of view of a tango dancer who fears she is going blind. The story is full of the intensity and anguish of dancing: ‘Magdalena … had never ceased to marvel at the way dancers considered their bodies rather like the way her carpenter father considered a tool, something that, with enough skill, could create a heaven on earth.’


Just wonderful. 




BOOK REVIEW: GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE by Susan Vreeland

Monday, January 18, 2016


A lot of my reading time in the past month has been taken up with research for the new novel I am working on, but I always make time for reading for pleasure as well. 

This month my reading list includes some fascinating non-fiction, some tattered old favourites, and a few new books hot off the presses. Oh, and some poetry! I hope you find something here to inspire and entertain you.

THE BLURB:

A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to view a painting he has kept secret for decades in Susan Vreeland's powerful historical novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

The professor swears it's a Vermeer -- but why exactly has he kept it hidden so long? The reasons unfold in a gripping sequence of stories that trace ownership of the work back to Amsterdam during World War II and still further to the moment of the painting's inception.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

One of my all-time favourite books by one of my all-time favourite authors, GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE tells the story of a painting in a series of interlinked vignettes moving backwards in time. 

The first is set in contemporary times, telling the story of a middle-aged man who has in his possession an extraordinary painting of a young girl which he believes is a lost Vermeer. He cannot prove it, however, for the painting has no provenance. And he cannot show it to any specialists, because the painting was, he believes, stolen by his father from a Jewish family in the Second World War.

The next vignette is told from the point of view of a young Jewish girl in Amsterdam, bewildered as her world is destroyed around her by the invasion of the Nazis. Backwards in time each story goes, connected only by the silent presence of the painting, until we reach the 17th century and the story of the girl who sat as the model for the painting. 

Each story is told with a marvellous economy of style, giving us just enough to understand what has happened before the scene shifts to the next point of view, yet the overall effect is almost unbearably moving. A wonderful book. 

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK:



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