The Antipodeans

The Antipodeans

Of all the books I have read and reviewed this year, this is outstanding and I think, the best.

It is without a doubt a novel of epic proportions.  It spans three generations of two families on the opposite sides of the world.

It begins with a terminal ill lawyer going to confront his past in and around Venice.  He is accompanied by his recently separated and about to be divorced daughter.  She knows little of his past and almost nothing of the time he spent in Italy after the Second World War.

We follow the trail from Venice in 2014, to two New Zealand servicemen caught up in the Second World War in Italy  in 1945, where we are introduced to two farming families, to a love that lasts and increases over the decades, to the lawyer’s sojourn in the small village in the hills of southern Italy, to the daughter of the lawyer and a nephew of the Italian family.

This is a story that goes far beyond the activities of these 2 servicemen, strangers initially but coming from the far away land of New Zealand to find themselves caught Italy and having to rely on each other to exist.  A friendship of sorts, perhaps originally, but now they hold a secret that was kept hidden throughout the generations.

The story covers 350 pages and I started reading it and can honestly say I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I read it into the wee small hours yesterday and finished it this morning before doing anything else.

I strongly recommend this book to you. Buy it, borrow it, perhaps don’t steal it, but read it.






Glass Houses

Glass houses

The story begins with Inspector Gamache giving evidence in a murder trial from where the story flashes back from today’s trial in Montreal to the previous autumn in the village.  And here we learn that a hooded figure dressed all in black appears on the village green in Trois Pines.  It says and does nothing; it just stands there for several days.  The villagers are at first intrigued but rapidly come to fear this figure as they should.  Soon it is followed by death.

The story continues to flash back and forth which initially I found confusing, but I quickly got into the story, accepting that this is the way Penny chose to tell her tale.

This is another skilfully planned and executed story of Gamache and the inhabitants of Three Pines, with their foibles and some eccentricities.  And into this mix are introduced several others who were newcomers to me,  but that may well be because I haven’t read all of the earlier books in the series.

Gamache, Beauvoir, his son-in-law, Isabel Lacoste and other members of the Surete de Quebec are again called on to solve the crime.  And as always, Penny adds twists and turns to the story that also touches on friendships and how long-standing relationships can be queried when faced with murder.

This is the second book I have read in this series and am totally in awe of the author’s ability to keep one amused and intrigued to the very end.  In fact, I challenge you to name the accused who is on trial for the murder before you reach the end of the book.

I can strongly recommend this book. Buy the book or take off to your library to see if they have a copy as I did, and if you have to wait for one, it will be well worth the wait.


Christmas on Madrona Islan


Well, this was a real change from the thriller books I have been reading recently.

This is a novella and the first book that I have read in this series, although it is Book 5.   I quickly worked out who was connected to whom. It is a special Christmas on the Island. A time for remembering and reflecting on things past and things to come in the future. We are invited to join this close-knit community of friends, relatives, and neighbours as they celebrate this Christmas together.

I shall certainly buy other books in the series if this novella is anything to go by.

Big Little Lies

big little lies

Another book given to me to read by my daughter.

I had heard much about this book and at the beginning, I thought that the praise was higher than it needed to be.

We are introduced to a small seaside community close to Sydney, Australia, and in particular to the small public school which the children attend.  We meet various mothers, and one or two fathers, whose lives seem to revolve around the school and its activities.

There is a group of Blonde Bobs look-alike stay -at- home Mums who are very involved with the school; Renata a highly achieving lawyer whose children are left in the care of a not very observant nanny; Madeline employed part time by the local theatre, has a teen-aged daughter from an earlier marriage and two small children with her current husband, who attend the primary school; Bonnie the second wife who has a daughter now attending the school; the sycophantic Harper who wants everybody to know how friendly she is with Renata ; Jackie, a hot-shot in the corporate world and the very beautiful Celeste, married to a rich, high flying, fabulous man.

And then into this close group of people comes Jane.  A single mother with a son, Ziggy and somehow neither of them really fit into the place at the beginning.

Accusations are parried about that Ziggy is bullying a little girl and passions erupt in the school yard.

But all comes to a head on Trivia Night, a fund raising party to raise money for boards for the school.

To say I couldn’t put this book down is an understatement.  On a cold autumn afternoon, I sat for four hours reading this book.  And after a doubtful start, I recommend this book highly.  If you haven’t discovered Liane Moriarty, a Sydney-based writer, I suggest you get a copy of this book.  You won’t be disappointed.