Abundant Books

The blog of a self confessed book addict. Reviews and musing about what, where and how I read.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Secret Mothers Business
by Joanne Fedler

Based on true conversations with real women, Secret Mothers' Business is a shocking, funny and often heartbreaking look at women, friendships and motherhood. One evening in late June a group of women friends get together at Louise's house. Natalie brings the red wine, Tamara some gluten-free delight as well as her fully charged mobile (her husband still can't seem to get two children to bed without calling her at least 6 times). Fiona will haul out her aromatherapy kit and they can count on Lou to bring along at least a kilo of chocolate. It is a regular reunion for eight very different women, with very different lives, secrets and fantasies. The only unifying factor? They are all mothers. Be warned, you will recognise yourself and your friends within these pages. These are conversations we've all had: about our weight, our fantasies - sexual and otherwise, those school lunchboxes, mother's guilt, our partners, the endless struggle to balance work, housework, family and sanity, and the seemingly impossible task of deciding what to feed the family every single night of the goddamn week. This is a book about the tenuous nature of mothering, the beauty and complexity of friendships, and the way in which women support - and judge - one another. It is a revealing look at where women go as mothers, and at just how far it is possible to go without quite going insane.

A womderful book - I don't feel nearly so bad a mother now. I related a lot to experiences a number of the women had and it made me feel that I was a normal, imperfect person and that that's okay. It's a great book to read in bits. Each chapter is reasonably short and almost self-contained, so a great book to have by the bed to read a chapter or two each night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to do a similar thing with friends - no children, great food and wine and wonderful friends sleeping over somewhere other than our homes.

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The Garden Book
by Brian Castro

After the exoticism of Shanghai Dancing, Castro returns to Australia in his new novel. Set in the Dandenongs between the Depression and World War II, the book revolves around Swan Hay, the daughter of a Chinese schoolteacher, and her relationships with brutal bushman Darcy Damon, and an American aviator and adventurer. A work of literary detection, it is tribute to the beauty and cruelty of the Australian bush, and Australia's identity crisis during the period of the White Australia Policy.

It took a while to get into this book. The first section about Darcy started to drag and the language was full of prose. Very beautiful but it took a long while to get any where. But I picked the novel up again yesterday and became mesmerised, reading about Swan, until the book was finished. I enjoyed it in the end but I wouldn't re-read the book. I felt real compassion for Swan and the mess that was her life and enjoyed the research of the rare books librarian to discover Swan's story (who it turns out, is his mother). If you enjoy beautiful writing or interesting poetry, you'd probably enjoy this.

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