Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Schedule suggestions 2009

Here are some of the suggestions tossed around at our meeting last night (together with those previous suggestions in the blog's sidebar):
  • Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (this year's Booker Prize winner. It's long so perhaps our summer read
  • Steven Conte's The zookeeper's war (last year's Prime Minister's Literary Award winner)
  • Rodney Hall (a book by him)
  • Alex Miller (a book by him - perhaps the new Lovesong??)
  • Patrick White's Voss (had been tentatively set for January but maybe Wolf Hall would be better for the summer read)
  • Kazuo Isiguro's Nocturnes (short stories)
  • David Malouf's Ransom
  • Jayne Anne Phillips' Lark and termite
Have I forgotten any that we discusssed?

What do you all think of these - and do you have other ideas? Marie, Susan and other farflung members - even if you can't come we would be happy to hear about any books you've read that you think we'd like to read.

(Free image from - for fun)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Valley of grace by Marion Halligan

On Tuesday 29 September, 10 of us including the author Marion Halligan sat comfortably in Kate's house mulling over French lives, loves and babies. We started our discussion with comments about the amazing cake -- how does it stay together, had Marion eaten it -- yes but it was in a little bag (!) and she had never made it.

Marion was very generous with her memories of Paris in 1989 living near the Church whose creation is so central to a main theme of women and fertility. Her tale of writing the novel was fascinating -- it started life as a short story which had possibilities. We enjoyed hearing that her act of writing is pen and paper although she writes essays on the computer. She talked a little about writing erotica -- plenty of love in Fanny's life when Gerard appears. We heard about some of the characters including the Philosopher who is based on a Canberra academic and his wife who is so happy with her abandonment of him in preference to the god child. It was good to hear that all the answers are not known even for the author. The wild child was the Professor's offspring possibly and was so sad -- that lead to discussion about such children and Marion revealed that she had researched these children.

We talked of types of families in contemporary life and the growing trend of gay couples having children. Marion admitted that she considered a sad end for Claude and Agnes' baby but decided against it -- I am so pleased. She also talked of endings and the suddenness of this one.
The cover we decided is beautiful and its yellow rays appropriate for the story.

What also came out was Marion's love of Paris and the French and their cultured lives filled with books and good food, wine, chocolates and friends.

Next challenge is Pages -- Marion doesn't want to read it !

(Cover image courtesy Allen & Unwin)