​Book reviews

These Precious Days

Ann Patchett

November 2021 New Release

Published by Bloomsbury

these precious days.jpg

When I began reading These Precious Days it was busy; busy with the lead up to Christmas; busy preparing to put 2021 behind us and full of distraction as I mustered the energy to (confidently!) finalise details for upcoming literary events in early 2022.

It was hard to focus on reading and I almost put the book to one side thinking it wasn’t the holiday read I thought it was going to be.

Thankfully, I picked it up again on Boxing Day only to find myself completely spellbound by Ann Patchett’s voice, her storytelling, her curiosity and her observations on life, on family, friends, food, pets, books and writers. There were tears.

Ann’s honesty and insight and her ability to draw the reader into such a deeply personal narrative is generous and she constantly piques our curiosity about her life as a writer, bookseller, friend, partner and daughter. That she begins the collection with a story of her three fathers reveals as much about Ann as it does her fathers and their important contribution to her life and career. It was the perfect beginning – a springboard for all the other stories which take us back in time and to the now.

There is so much in these stories for writers, readers and of course booksellers given she co-owns a bookshop in Nashville. Writers will find little snippets of gold such as:

When I’m putting together a novel, I leave all the doors and windows open so the characters can come in and just as easily leave…

And

Putting together a novel is essentially putting together the lives of strangers I’m coming to know. In some ways it’s not unlike putting together my own life. I think I know what I’m doing when in truth I have no idea. I just keep moving forward.’

The chapter on Reading Kate DiCamillo is a beautiful testament to the profundity of Kate’s writing for children (and adults) and a lesson in believing. The story of How Knitting Saved My Life. Twice  touches on what is perhaps, the essence of the entire collection when Ann considers all the ‘love and hope and disappointment’ in a handknitted scarf.

And the title chapter which comes later in the collection, These Precious Days will give you pause for thought and quite possibly move you to tears. Give yourself some time and space for this one.

I must confess that the only Ann Patchett book I have read outside of this collection of essays, is The Dutch House which I loved and the reason I made sure I had These Precious Days on my pile of books to read over the holiday season. What a brilliant sneak peek into the mind of someone who leads an otherwise private life.

It has been the perfect start to my 2022 reading list.

 

This title is available with a 20% discount on our online store.

Kristin

Wild Abandon

Emily Bitto

October 2021 New Release

Published by Allen and Unwin

9781760879136.jpg

This book captured my attention from the moment it arrived in the post…

It is a bright and bold package with a title that is immediately appealing – particularly while we’re stuck in our own small worlds right now!

Emily Bitto is the winner of the Stella Prize for her book, The Strays and she is a beautiful writer and deserved prize-winner.

Wild Abandon, as the title would suggest, takes the reader to places with unexpected intensity – from the glamour and over-indulgent night life of New York to the weary and quirky landscape of mid-west America.  At the centre of this story is the main protagonist, Will, a heartbroken, vulnerable young man who has abandoned Australia to lick his wounds after a traumatic relationship breakdown.

Along the way he will make unlikely friendships and reconnect with childhood acquaintances who will challenge everything he knows. Life as he lives it on this journey is both confronting and awakening; heartbreaking and joyous, and as Will careers on through, trying to stop the hurt, we are left wondering where it all might end up for him. Can he reimagine his own identity and return to Australia having ‘found’ his soul; ready to face his Australian life and persona with the strength and confidence he imagines everyone else in his world to have?

It is a ‘heart in mouth’ read. A snapshot of the craziness that is America and a wonderful insight into the head and the heart of a young man finding his way. It is a startling reminder of what motivates us as human beings, the power of friendship and the importance of truth and self- love.

Kristin