Book Reviews

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Book Reviews by Robert Fairhead

In April 2015 I answered a tweet from Writing NSW (formerly the NSW Writers’ Centre) seeking interest from potential book reviewers. I soon found I liked the review process because it made me think about a book from different angles:

  • Firstly, there’s me as the primary reader: What did I get from the book and would I recommend reading it to others?
  • Then there are those who will read my review: What can I tell them about the book to entice them to read it, without spoiling their enjoyment of doing so?
  • And finally, there’s the writer: What was his or her goal in writing the book and how did they set about achieving it?

I still like reading and reviewing books for Writing NSW and for Tall And True, an online magazine, blog and forum for writers, readers and publishers.

Selection of Book Reviews

The following is a selection of my book reviews. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. You can find more of my reviews on TallAndTrue.com.

A ROMAN DEATH BY JOAN O’HAGAN

This ancient-world whodunnit is set in 45 BC. Julius Caesar is at the height of his power, yet the Ides of March looms and Rome will soon descend into turmoil. For now, the Roman elite live a pampered existence, attended to by slaves, and plotting how to increase their wealth and standing.

DRAGONFISH BY VU TRAN

Vu Tran’s debut novel opens with a letter from a mother to her daughter, with whom she has lost contact. She recounts their escape from Vietnam in an overcrowded boat and confesses she had not wanted to leave behind her homeland and husband, and that she blamed her daughter for having done so.

DYSCHRONIA BY JENNIFER MILLS

Jennifer Mills sets her novel, Dyschronia in the run-down coastal town of Clapstone. The townsfolk view Sam as their oracle and depend upon her visions. And yet a great catastrophe has occurred seemingly taking with it Clapstone’s last hope for renewal. Why didn’t Sam warn the town?

SEEING THE ELEPHANT BY PORTLAND JONES

Portland Jones’ debut novel is set in 1962, when a small contingent of Australian soldiers, the AATTV, were sent to Vietnam under the leadership of the CIA to help the Americans train South Vietnamese soldiers and villagers to fight the North Vietnamese Communists and Viet Cong insurgents.

SWEETIES BY LEON SILVER

One “ordinary Monday morning” an image invades Abel Marvin’s thoughts as he swims his laps: the “twisted, burned-out hulk of a wheelchair with two welded, gaping red and black skeletons”. It’s a scene that’s haunted Abel for most of his adult life and he buries his face in the water to drown it.

THE BETTER SON BY KATHERINE JOHNSON

In the summer of 1952, Kip and his older brother, Tommy, find the entrance to a cave hidden in the hills above the family farm in the central north of Tasmania. It is now 2002 and middle-aged Kip has returned to the Mole Creek cave, from where 50 years ago he ran back to the farm without Tommy.

THE MECHANIC BY ALAN GOLD

Chasca Broderick has rushed home from her work with the War Crimes Tribunal in Sarajevo to attend her grandfather’s funeral. Theodore Broderick had been a lawyer, an eminent legal academic, an adviser to presidents, a Supreme Court Justice, and a defence attorney at the Nuremberg Trials.

TO THE ISLANDS BY RANDOLPH STOW

Patrick White won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957 for Voss. A year later Randolph Stow won for To the Islands. He was only 22-years-old but had already published two novels, A Haunted Land (1956) and The Bystander (1957) and a collection of award-winning poems, Act One (1957).

About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Among other things, Robert is an editor and writer at Tall And True, an online magazine, blog and forum for writers, readers and publishers. Share and showcase your writing -- fiction, nonfiction and reviews -- on TallAndTrue.com.