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Book Reviews


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Mr Rosenblum's List by Natasha Solomons

Reviewed by Elena, Balgowlah

This endearing tale of a German-Jew immigrant to England resolved to become a Very English Gentleman (bless!) is the perfect holiday read. His determination finds its ultimate expression in trying to build his own golf course (the height of Englishness is indeed to belong to a golf club, and n... (continued)
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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by T.E. Carhart

Review by Gillian May, Berkelouw Staff This lovely book is one that I read after a customer recommendation. When T.E. Carhart went to live in Paris he took with him his family, a deep love of music and a talent for writing. Exploring his new neighbourhood he discovers the piano store and worksh... (continued)
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The Vintage and the Gleaning by Jeremy Chambers

Reviewed by Gillian May, Berkelouw Staff The opening pages of this novel are impressive and hilarious. The clipped and deadpan dialogue of Smithy and his work colleagues as they prepare to start their day’s labour evokes perfectly the conversation of men for whom words are used sparingly a... (continued)
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The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

Reviewed by Gillian May, Berkelouw Staff With a chronology starting in 1532 and ending in 1918 this book looks at the emergence of the French nation focussing on the lives of ordinary people living in the countryside in dispersed villages. Whether these people knew of the existence of a country ... (continued)
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Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Review by Amanda Hampson Elizabeth Gilbert’s search for personal fulfilment has sold over 10 million copies and is set to take off again with the release of the movie adaptation and tie-in publication. The right book at the right time, it has evidently tapped into a generation of women who... (continued)
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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Review by Amanda Hampson There has been intense discussion around Franzen’s new novel as to whether it measures up to his previous one, The Corrections, for which he won a swag of awards and consequently set the bar high for himself next time around.  Freedom follows Patty and Walter... (continued)
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The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Review by Amanda Hampson Shortly after 9/11, Asne Seierstad, a Norwegian journalist, spent four months living with the family of a bookseller in Kabul. Her goal was to reveal the Afghan perspective on politics and culture from the microcosm of one family. Considering this book has been translate... (continued)
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Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer

Review by Amanda Hampson Dyer is a writer’s writer and I have to declare myself at the outset as someone who thinks he is an absolute genius. He has the capacity to deliver stories, like those in Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, that have you weeping with laughter, as ... (continued)
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Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby

Review by Amanda Hampson Nick Hornby seems like one of the few authors you wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with – he’s witty, entertaining and spins a good yarn. Hornby’s latest offering takes us into the lives of Annie and her ne’er-do-well boyfriend, Duncan, i... (continued)
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Invisible by Paul Auster

Review by Amanda Hampson Auster’s fifteenth novel is, according to the New York Times, the finest he has ever written. High praise for much-awarded author who has written some fine books, perhaps the best known of which are The Brooklyn Follies and The New York Trilogy.  Invisible ha... (continued)
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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Review by Amanda Hampson The Road with its post-apocalyptic setting and nameless characters is one of those recommended books you resist reading because it sounds so bleak. Set in future America now destroyed beyond all recognition, the story follows a man and his son as they walk south in searc... (continued)
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Solar by Ian McEwan

Review by Amanda Hampson McEwan’s name invariably sparks a lively discussion as to which book is whose favourite and perhaps this is because, despite common themes, each of his 11 novels is very different.  His style has evolved over time from early sinister novels such as The Cement ... (continued)
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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Review by Amanda Hampson Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this is a collection of 13 interwoven stories drawn from the lives of the community of Crosby, a small town in coastal Maine USA.  The stories explore the lives of a number of characters in the town and each is beautif... (continued)
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Legacy by Kristen Tranter

Review by Amanda Hampson Set in Sydney and New York the story revolves around the complicated relationship between three friends and the subsequent disappearance of one of them. Ralph, Julia and later Ralph’s cousin, Ingrid, are pulled romantically in opposing directions; Ralph longs for I... (continued)
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One Day by David Nicholls

Review by Rachel Burke If you enjoy a good slightly intellectual rom-com then this is the book for you, already being adapted for screen. One Day is the story of Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley with Nicholls providing snapshots into both characters’ lives for 20 consecutive years on the... (continued)
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Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski

Review by Rachel Burke Known as a prolific drunken misogynist, Bukowski probably wouldn’t be regarded by many as a nice chap. He was however a prolific writer who penned thousands of poems, six novels and various collections of short stories, The Most Beautiful Woman In Town being one of t... (continued)
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Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F Scott Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Athena Cabot

Highly accessible for readers young and old, these short stories are at once simply written and extremely profound. A master of American fiction, Fitzgerald expertly captures the essence of the jazz age, and subtly blends elements of fantasy with the realism of the setting and with the tangible e... (continued)
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Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Review by Athena Cabot A wonderfully dark story about human vanity and man's weakness for material and beauty. While Wilde's novel was much more shocking and controversial for Victorian audiences, his work still proves to be edgy, charming, and sophisticated for modern readers. (continued)
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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Reviewed by Cath Shaw, Berkelouw Paddington

I’ve been watching sales of Jasper Jones over the past two years with interest. Very late one night (we close at midnight on weekends) a breathless, long-haired, skateboarding teenager galloped into the shop and asked for a copy. He said, “I’ve already read it, and I don&rsqu... (continued)
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The Passage by Justin Cronin

Reviewed by Cath Shaw, Berkelouw Paddington

Wow. Unlike Stephen King who tends to take, um, a little time in setting the mood and tone in his books, Cronin is all about action. There is no speed reading in this novel, as every word counts; which, given the size of it, explains why it took so long for me to get through it. Well rewar... (continued)