November 2018

Hello again from the Sunny Coast and thank you for dropping by. With only a few weeks left in this year it is time for me to review what I have achieved in 2018 and begin to make plans for next year; to look at what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

What I could not foresee at the beginning of the year is that my main focus would be a complete turnabout and I would begin a series of workshops and classes on memoir writing. These came about as a result of the Life-writing talks I gave early in the year at libraries and family history centres across the coast. They were so successful it seemed that there was an opportunity to begin small group workshops specifically on memoir writing. So I took the plunge and what began as a short course has turned into two groups continuing with regular monthly classes with plans to continue them throughout 2019. I didn’t see that one coming!

My intention to be more active in marketing my books and to increase my own writing, were both things where I fell down a little, but when life opens a different door, it would be churlish to turn away. So, with the final classes finished this month I will take a breather and spend some time catching up on my own writing and see how far I get. Certainly I will try and find more opportunities for speaking within the community this coming year.

I was looking forward to sharing with you my book for this month - The Punishment She Deserves – by American author, Elizabeth George. This writer has long been a favourite of mine so you can imagine I was eagerly anticipating her latest publication. To say I struggled with it for quite a while is an understatement. At 595 pages, it is a long book, but as it was a Thomas Linley and Barbara Havers mystery, I was keen to make the time to read it. It was a less than impressive beginning as it centred on the sleazy behaviour of a group of drunken, sex-obsessed students. To be further confronted by Linley's alcoholic DCC who was hell-bent on providing Havers with a noose with which to hang herself, I wondered if I would make it to the end. There were sufficient twists and turns in the plot to hold my attention, and as always, this author is to be admired for her character development and location description, but a couple of hundred pages less would have made a tighter read. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are a Linley fan, but it’s one to read over the holiday period on those hot summer days when a long period of reading is all that appeals.

Likewise, the latest Jeffrey Archer novel, Heads you Win, I found to be overly long. He has always been able to draw in his readers with clever plotting and his ability to tell a good story, but yet another 600 page tome was a tad too drawn out for me and the twist at the end didn’t have quite the impact that we have come to expect from Archer.

However with only two minor disappointments in the fifty plus books I read this year, overall I felt very satisfied with my choices. I discovered two crime writers who were new to me, Val McDermid and Anne Cleves, and as both have a considerable back list it would appear my 2019 reading list will be well taken care of.

My top choice for the year, though, is a classic by Australian author Robin Dalton – Aunts up the Cross. With an introduction by Clive James, it is followed by the whimsical first paragraph, ‘My great Aunt Juliet was knocked over and killed by a bus when she was eighty-five. The bus was travelling very slowly in the right direction and could hardly have been missed by anyone except Aunt Juliet, who must have been travelling fairly fast in the wrong direction.’ This is a book that will enthral those who knew Sydney ‘back in the day’. It was the first choice for 2018 from my book group and one I had never heard of, but what an enjoyable beginning to the year it was. Robin Dalton tells the story of her childhood in the 1920s and ‘30s bohemian Kings Cross. Surrounded by eccentric aunts and uncles, and a constant supply of houseguests, there was never a dull moment for the only child of the house. With family quirks, theatrical antics and a number of bizarre deaths, it is told with warmth, wit and much humour. ‘Aunts up the Cross’ is a delightful glimpse of a bygone Sydney which left me rather envious of life back then.

Don’t come to this book expecting a story with a beginning and middle and an end. Rather it is a continuation of colourful characters, situations and descriptions of a Sydney long gone. It is gentle, warm and pleasurable with some laugh out loud moments. In addition to the perfectly written prose, the simple black and white sketches of Sydney and some of the entertaining personalities make this a book that I will read again and again.

In my final newsletter for 2018, I say thank you to those who have continued to read my post, and for those who have made contact. It is always good to hear from you. I wish you all the best for the Christmas season and hope that 2019 holds many pleasures for you and your loved ones.

Cheers for now and take care.

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