The Island House
by Posie Graeme-Evans
Simon and Schuster Australia
I was intrigued by his story from the beginning.It's the story of two women and their lives from different times. Freya and Signy and Freya both live on the Scottish Island of Findnar. After Freya's father who has been absent for most of her life leaves her the island, Freya's plan initially is not to stay long , just long enough to finish her PhD but events conspire to make her decide otherwise.
Signy, a young Pict girl, lived on Findnar at the time of a Viking raid. Her whole family was wiped out but she, along with a young Viking man named Bear, are taken into the care of the nun, Gunnhilde, and others of the religious order of nuns and priests living on the island who escaped the Viking slaughter.
I loved the interweaving of the present day story of Freya Dane, her romance and the archaeological discoveries , with that of Signy and Bear. It's a fascinating look at the time of the the early Pict religion worshipping Cruach and other gods, the Vikings and their beliefs and the priests and nuns professing to be followers of the Christian beliefs.It held my interest from start to finish, though I admit to finding some of the scenes hard to read as they are quite violent and I don't deal well with violence.
That aside this is an intriguing book and well worth reading, for the story as well as to see how sometimes beliefs can lead to some strange decisions and misguided behaviour.
Children of Liberty
by Paulinna Simons
It took me a long time to get into this book. The fact that I took so long to read it and read other books in between, shows that I was never wholly engaged with the characters and the story. This is the first Paullina Simons book I have read. It started off well with the Attaviano family off to America from Sicily, where they meet Ben and Harry. The banter between Ben and Harry and other characters later on in the book I found annoying and overdone.
I had to laugh at some of the attitudes of the times (1899 onwards) regarding etiquette, dress and in particular the bizarre attitude towards bananas. For something we see as so common place that was amusing to see the suspicion in which bananas were held.
I really wanted to like this book, as I had heard a lot of good comments and reviews about Paullina Simons and the Bronze Horseman series, but this one didn't work for me. While it was okay and some aspects, like the portrayal of the times, were interesting, other parts slowed down so much I found it hard to maintain interest. For me one of the problems was the characters. I didn't find any of them particularly engaging. Harry I found self centred and indolent and had difficulty understanding why anyone would love him and want to marry him. And the political input, rather than adding to the story, at times overwhelmed it and made for slow going. I gather from the ending there is another book at least to come in the story of Gina and Harry, but I doubt I will read it though I may be prepared to try another book of hers some time down the track.
By Mark Lynch
Non standard paperback
For anyone into footy, that is AFL, this collection of cartoons and quotes would be of interest. From the cartoon on the cover though to the end, that succinctly sums up the life of a footy fanatic, some of the cartoons and one-liners are out and out, laugh aloud funny. I admit to chuckling my way through some of it.
There are a number of classic one-liners from velvet voiced commentator Dennis Cometti, who has long had the knack of turning an off field issue into a humorous comment e.g. ‘Cousins runs away from Carr. Not the first time we’ve seen that this season.’ Or just on injuries during a game, like this one about Tony Liberatore who ended up with a bleeding eye. ‘He went into the pack optimistically and came out misty optically′
Other quotes in the collection are crass, irreverent and sacrilegious, which unfortunately seems to go hand in hand with the football culture as far as some coaches, commentators and football aficionados are concerned.
You’ll find quotes from names like Jack Dyer, Ted Whitton, Leigh Matthews, Mick Malthouse, Eddie McGuire and a few quotes from David Williamson’s famous play The Club. And Razor Ray Chamberlain shares the thoughts of some of the footy crowd towards him and his job as umpire. Occasionally there’s one quote even offers a bit of common sense advice and warning like the twitter comment from Peter Spida Everitt to girls invited back to a footballer’s rooms at 3am.
Those with a passion for the Aussie game will get more than a few laughs out of this little book. Perhaps one of the quotes from John Elliott about Melbourne sums it up,’ There’s only two seasons down here; the footy season and the pre season.’ Of course as anyone knows there are passionate, footy obsessed followers throughout the rest of Australia too, and this book could make an ideal Christmas gift for one of them, so long as they don’t mind a bit of language and off colour humour.