One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of The Impossible Quest, Bitter Greens, The Wild Girl and now The Beast’s Garden, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she’s been reading.
The Quality of Silence
by Rosamund Lupton
This is one of the most beautiful and haunting psychological thrillers I have ever read. It breaks so many rules, and yet does so with such cleverness and such confidence. Set in Alaska, the novel is mostly told from the point of view of a ten-year-old deaf girl. She and her mother have arrived in the vast, icy darkness that is subarctic Alaska in winter.
To Ruby’s surprise, her father is not there to meet them at the airport. Instead, a policeman tells her mother that there has been a terrible accident. Ruby’s father is dead.
Refusing to believe the news, Ruby and her mother set out across the black, wind-scoured ice to find the truth. They soon become aware that someone is following them, hunting them. From this simple premise, Rosamund Lupton weaves an extraordinary spine-chilling tale of love, guilt, sorrow, survival … and silence. At times, the bitter cold and darkness and terror were so vivid, so real, that I could not stop shaking. Absolutely riveting.
The House of Silk
by Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is a big favourite in our family. My sons love his Diamond Brothers and Alex Rider books, my husband read and enjoyed his James Bond novel, and I am madly in love with the TV series he’s worked on, particularly Foyle’s War.
And I’ve read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. So of course I grabbed this book as soon as I saw it on the shelves. I enjoyed it immensely.
I really liked how faithful Anthony Horowitz was to the original feel and flavor of the books. “Pitch-perfect” was how I described it on twitter.
by C.J. Sansom
The series features a hunchbacked young lawyer called Matthew Shardlake, in the final years of Henry VIII’s rule. The novel begins with the burning of heretics, one of them a young woman named Ann Askew. She is a true historical figure, and the only woman known to have been tortured in the Tower.
Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr, is under suspicion for sympathizing with the heretics, who are all Protestant. Matthew is called in to help her solve the mystery of a missing book, and the string of unexplained murders that follow. As always, the world of Tudor England is brought to vivid and putrid life, with the obese and malevolent figure of the king brooding over all.
This is historical crime at its best. Start with Dissolution, the first book in the series, and read in order.
Put Out All The Stops
by Geraldine McCaughrean
She is probably best-known for Peter Pan in Scarlet, the brilliant “official” sequel to J.M. Barrie’s famous story of the Boy Who Won’t Grow Up.
I love her work, and am trying to slowly read my way through all 150 of her books. This one is a rambunctious adventure story set in a steamboat on the Missouri River. It features a cast of lovable, oddball characters, a lot of slapstick humour, a dash of poignancy, and a whole lot of heart.
by Robert Macfarlane
It’s a memoir of a camping trip inspired by a book I’ve never heard of; it’s a extended poem about the sunken holloways of Dorset – those deep, mysterious tunnels between tree-roots that were once roads, goat-tracks, and field-paths – and it’s a celebration of nature, friendship, and language.
I’ve read it three times now, and find new delights each time. It was so beautiful, so marvellous, I have gone and bought several more of Robert Macfarlane’s books since, hoping for more enchantment.
by A.S. Byatt
This novel has been on my shelf for more than twenty years, and yet somehow I have never before read it. So at last I picked it up and began. Of course, I utterly adored it! For those of you who have not read it, I can really recommend it.
It’s a story about two English academics in the late 1980s, who get caught up in a literary mystery about the secret love affair of two Victorian writers. Their poems and stories are woven through the narrative, in one of the most dazzling ventriloquist acts I have ever seen in fiction. The pastiches are utterly pitch-perfect. The story is driven by the hunt for the truth of the Victorian love affair, which mirrors the slowly developing romance of our modern-day literary detectives.
I particularly loved all the clever fairy tale allusions!
Kate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.
She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’
The Beast’s Garden
by Kate Forsyth
The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called The Singing, Springing Lark in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom.
In The Singing, Springing Lark, the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from … Read more
About the Contributor
Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.