Christian College Geelong Senior Library: Lovers of literature

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962.

Were black maids raise white chidren, but are trusted not to steal the silver…..

The Help has been described as a story with heart and hope. A good old fashioned  novel (New York Daily News)
 “Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.”

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.”

(Above excerpt is from the www.kathrynstockett.com)



March 1, 2012 Posted by | Film tie in, Past, people and places, Relationships | | Leave a comment

Partitions by Amit Majmudar

A stunning first novel, set during the violent 1947 partition of India, about uprooted children and their journeys to safety.

As India is rent into two nations, communal violence breaks out on both sides of the new border and streaming hordes of refugees flee from blood and chaos.

At an overrun train station, Shankar and Keshav, twin Hindu boys, lose sight of their mother and join the human mass to go in search of her. A young Sikh girl, Simran Kaur, has run away from her father, who would rather poison his daughter than see her defiled. And Ibrahim Masud, an elderly Muslim doctor driven from the town of his birth, limps toward the new Muslim state of Pakistan, rediscovering on the way his role as a healer. As the displaced face a variety of horrors, this unlikely quartet comes together, defying every rule of self-preservation to forge a future of hope.

A dramatic, luminous story of families and nations broken and formed, Partitions introduces an extraordinary novelist who writes with the force and lyricism of poetry. MacMillan

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Family/Relationships, Past, people and places | | Leave a comment

Water for elephants by Sara Gruen


An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the
circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto
a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a
second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making
one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost
earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It
is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act,
who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also
meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a
wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people
that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that
few can afford.   Review by Book Browse

Watch a trailer for the movie

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Film tie in, Past, people and places, Romance | , | Leave a comment

Bereft by Chris Womersley


It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.
In the NSW town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.
A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Past, people and places, Relationships | Leave a comment

Book of the Year -2011 Shortlist Titles

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowly

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.
But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya  Hartnett

World War II, Eastern Europe: Tomas and his younger brother, Andrej, have fled their Romany encampment which has been besieged by the Germans; they carry Wilma, their baby sister, in a sack. In an abandoned, bombed-out town, the children discover a zoo. In it are a wolf and an eagle, a monkey, bear, lioness, seal, chamois and llama. The animals tell their stories to the children as they try to begin to understand what has become of their lives and, when they try to figure out a way to release the animals, what it means to be free.

About a Girl by Joanne Horniman

 A spellbinding love story between two young women that unfolds like a series of paintings and explores the tender moments that pull them together and the secrets that push them apart.

Anna is afraid she must be unlovable – until she meets Flynn. Together, the girls swim, eat banana cake, laugh and love. Some days Flynn is unreachable; other days she’s at Anna’s door – but when Anna discovers Flynn’s secret, she wonders if she knows her at all.
A beautifully crafted novel by award-winning author Joanne Horniman that explores the tension between the tender moments that pull people together and the secrets that push them apart.

The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher by Doug MacLeod

This is the story of a young man growing up in England in 1828. Thomas Timewell lives a rather sedate life with his mother, but all that changes when he meets a man who steals corpses from cemeteries and sells them to hospitals for dissection. At first reluctantly and later willingly Thomas follows Plenitude, as the man calls himself, through a series of macabre and dangerous escapades that include murderous bodysnatchers, a vengeful teacher, and a mad woman of the moors. Along the way Thomas falls in love with the lovely Victoria (who who hides a secret of her own) and makes a startling discovery about his own lineage.

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta


Melina Marchetta’s brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca – only this time it’s five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

And in a year when everything’s broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them

Six Impossible things by Fiona Wood

Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Family/Relationships, Fantasy, Past, people and places, Romance, Shortlisted Books, War | | Leave a comment

International Women’s Day: Great Reads

Anita Diamant: The Red Tent

The Red Tent retells the story of Dinah, which is found in the Biblical book of Genesis, Chapter 34.   She begins with the story of her mothers, Jacob’s wives: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. She then tells her story. Dinah is the daughter of Jacob, only sister to Joseph (he of the coat of many colors). She is raped by a prince whose father then offers to pay a dowry so that his son might wed her. Jacob agrees on the condition that all the men of the town are circumcised according to their family’s tradition. The king agrees. While all the men are still in pain from their circumcision, Jacob’s sons raid the town and slaughter them all. This is an amazing story of the strength to be found and nurtured in women when life is extremely difficult. A great read! 

Tracey Chevalier: Remarkable Creatures

Mary Anning lived in the early 19th century in the town of Lyme Regis, where fossils are abundant. At age 12 Mary discovered the first complete specimen of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile about 200 million years old. Though she was female and working class, Mary managed to work with the middle class male scientists of the day. She was prickly and independent and eccentric. Plus, she was struck by lightning as a baby and survived. I really loved this book about a strong, and truly remarkable woman.

Philippa Gregory: The Red Queen and The White Queen


 In The White Queen Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower.

In the Red Queen, Lady Margaret Beaufort is a Lancastrian descended from Edward III (and thus in line for the English throne), Margaret soon discovers that her family tree will determine her entire future. This pious and intense child doesn’t see why she can’t become Joan of Arc, or a nun (preferably an abbess), or at least marry for love. Since Margaret’s first husband, Edmund Tudor, is also of royal lineage, their offspring could conceivably rule the land as Henry VII…Any reader familiar with Henry VIII knows that Margaret Beaufort went on to forge one of England’s more enduring royal dynasties.

Gregory sets up Elizabeth and Margaret like queens in a chess game, and their stratagems couldn’t be more fascinatingly intricate if they’d been invented out of whole cloth rather than based on the historical record.

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Past, people and places | , , | Leave a comment

A Girl Like Me by Penny Matthews


It is Wuthering Heights set in the Mallee based on a real murder!

Set in rural Australia in the early 1900s, this is first a coming-of-age story about a well-bred young woman, Emily, exploring the risky world of adult relationships. Her main source of ‘proper’ information is Mary Wood Allen’s What a Young Woman Ought to Know.

A quote from this excellent publication introduces every chapter, illuminating the perplexing tension between Emily’s upbringing and all she is learning from Bertha her family’s new home help. But it is also a book about writing. Emily, inspired by her love of Wuthering Heights, has set out to write a romantic novel of her own, but the passions and dramas of life in a small country community eclipse her wildest imagination.

Based round the true story of the murder of a young woman in Towitt, South Australia in 1901, this wonderful novel is also a gripping mystery. I really loved it; it is so rich in ideas, in sense of place, and in psychological exploration. Recommended to anyone over 13, young readers and adults alike.

Review by Kathy Kozlowksi, Readings Carlton

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Mystery, Past, people and places | | Leave a comment