In recent weeks I’ve been travelling across the world and through time and I’ve done it without leaving my lounge room – except for the occasional cup of coffee. I’ve travelled through books. Not travel guides or tales of travel experiences but through novels. I’ve been in Berlin in the time immediately after WW2, in prewar Italy and modern Australia, in Antarctica and the USA and I have travelled by train, ship and bicycle.
That’s the beauty and excitement of reading. While enjoying wonderful stories we can explore other countries, other cultures, other times and other people’s minds.
And now some brief notes on the books which have transported me.
Michael Robotham’s ‘Life or Death’ is a compelling thriller. Audie Palmer is due to be released after 10 years tough prison time yet he pulls of a well planned escape the day before. Why? You will travel many miles through the USA and you will be sitting on the edge of your seat the whole time as the answer is revealed. This is Robotham’s tenth superb thriller in as many years and he is in top form!
‘Luigi’s Freedom Ride’ by Alan Murray tells Luigi’s story from being a boy in a Tuscan village in the 1920’s to serving with the partisans in WW2, to travelling to Jerusalem and then settling down first in Annandale and then on the North Coast. Throughout this charming and moving story run the threads of bicycles, family and friends. Laugh and cry as Luigi’s life unfolds.
Favel Parrett is a young Australian writer. Correction, she is an extraordinarily talented young Australian writer. Her first novel was short-listed for the Miles Franklin award (see earlier blog). ‘When the Night Comes’, her second novel, is set in Hobart, Antarctica and on board the supply ship Nella Dan. It is a moving story of growing up which powerfully evokes feeling, place and character.
‘The Spring of Kasper Meier’ is described as a mystery. It could just as well be described as literary fiction because author Ben Ferguson is a real talent. ‘Spring…’ is set in Berlin just after WW2 and Kasper is doing his best to eke out a living buying and selling whatever he can. He is also trying to forget. Suddenly he is being blackmailed. This is a beautifully constructed mystery with a well hidden climax but for me the even greater impact of the story was to that it gave me some understanding of what it would be like to live in a city immediately following the physical and psychological ravages of war.
There you have it. Four very different but equally wonderful stories to enjoy and travel with so I can confidently wish you happy reading – Philip Bray.