Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

13 May 2015

BiP eNews: New and forthcoming titles

BiP staff review by Deborah

The Reader on the 6.27
Jean- Paul Didierlaurent
May 2015 | Mantle | $24.99hb

The Reader on the 6.27 explores the power of books through the lives of the people they save. Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. He works at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, but at the end of every day he salvages loose pages from the huge pulping machine which dominates the factory. Then, sitting on the 6.27am train each day on the way to work, Guylain recites aloud from the pages he has saved. His fellow passengers are enthralled. It is this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life. For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. A woman who feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author . . . The Reader on the 6.27 is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain's life for the better. This captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature's power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives. I found this love story with a difference quirky, entertaining and uplifting – I ended up with a smile on my face.

BiP staff review by Leonie

A Year of Marvellous Ways
Sarah Winman
June 2015 | Headline | $29.99pb

Four years ago a charming book called When God was a Rabbit appeared in bookstores. It was the first novel by young English author Sarah Winman and it quickly became a favourite with many of our readers, including me. In her second work the eponymous Marvellous Ways is an intriguing eighty-nine-year-old woman who lives a hermitic life in Cornwall. She has spent much of her younger life as a midwife to her seaside community. Is she the daughter of a mermaid, as she sometimes claims? Marvellous first appears standing by the side of a road, after a dream left her feeling that something important is coming.
It is now the late 1940s; the war is over but life in England and Cornwall is still a long way from returning to normal. On a ferry from France a very seasick young man, Francis Drake, is finally returning home after a very tough time during the war. He has a mission to pass on a letter to the father of a dead soldier who begged Drake to take the letter to Cornwall in person. But first he stops in London to rediscover his childhood haunts and hopefully to find his friend Missy. He lost contact with her after he was sent to France. This is a magical book. Sara Winman has a wonderful lightness of touch. It has whimsical humour, grief, magic, friendship and love. All too often second books from authors are disappointing but definitely not A Year of Marvellous Ways. It is a great read and a wonderful book for book groups.

BiP staff review by Leonie

Myfanwy Jones
June 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $26.99pb

Joe and Jen were high school sweethearts, with big plans for the future, once their final exams were over. While at a party, during the summer, Joe and Jen had an argument with Joe choosing to leave on his own. The next day Jen is dead. Three years later, still weighed down by grief and guilt, Joe has abandoned his plans for university and a career. He shares a rental house with two other young men, and works at low-paid cafe and bar jobs. He fills his spare time training at Parkour under inner-city bridges. (Leap takes place in inner suburban Melbourne which makes for an interesting read, trying to envisage where each scene is taking place.) Then there is Elise, a middle-aged woman who spends many hours sitting in front of the tiger enclosure, studying the tigers and learning their ways. She takes up painting again to help with the pain of the breakup of her marriage. Joe is no longer able to shut out the world, despite his grief. An intriguing girl turns up on the doorstep one day, looking for a room. There is also Lena, the skateboarding chef from the bar where he works at night. Out of the blue he is contacted on Facebook by someone calling themself ‘Emily Dickinson’ and wanting to talk about Jen. How do all of these characters fit together? Despite the thread of grief which runs through Leap there is also a glimmer of something like hope. Leap is a brilliant title for Myfanwy Jones’ wonderful book. As you read you will understand how appropriate. It is a special treat to read a great novel set in your own city, beautifully written and with such memorable characters.

BiP guest review by Graeme Walton

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematorium
Caitlin Doughty
May 2015 | Canongate | $27.99pb

Caitlin Doughty entered the fascinating world of funeral service in the San Francisco Bay area at the age of twenty-three. Her first job was to shave a deceased man. This book follows her journey in an arcane and totally fulfilling profession that is a mystery to most of us. Caitlin shares stories of people at their most vulnerable when a loved one dies..... and the frequent occasions when tears and laughter are both present. The one thing that stands out is the total care and respect for the deceased that is Caitlin’s experience. This, too, is my experience as a funeral director in Melbourne. This is a beautifully written work in which she traces the history of funeral service in many cultures over the centuries. Like many professionals in the industry she laments the fact that we are probably the first generation to ignore the reality of death and not to treat it as the profound reality that it is. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is moving, funny and informative. Caitlin is now a renowned speaker on the world stage on how we treat death and funerals; her book contains an extensive list of references for those who wish to learn more on the subjects she covers. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is highly recommended to those who wish to go behind the funeral home doors and to fellow professionals who want an insight into the industry in the United States.

BiP eNews cont...

Recommended for 4+

Wendy and The Wallpaper Cat
Jason Hook & Ilaria Demonti
May 2015 | V&A Publications | $24.99hb

Wendy can't sleep, no matter what she tries. She counts sheep, reads books and even turns somersaults, but nothing works. Eventually Wendy's parents take her on holiday to stay at her grandpa Walter’s house, and he invites Wendy to stay in whichever room is her favourite. Wendy is amazed to discover interiors covered in wallpapers that come to life, and their sights, sounds and smells fill her head with images and ideas. As she wanders happily from room to room, she finally finds a way to drift off. Featuring the work of artist and designer Walter Crane, this book – published by The Victoria and Albert Museum – is a romp through his extraordinary imagination. Beautiful and funny, too, it’s one of our favourite picture books.    BiP staff review by Lucinda

Recommended for 13+

I’ll Be There
Holly Goldberg Sloan
April 2015 | Scholastic | $16.99pb

It isn’t often that a character in book stays with you long after the final page turn, keeps you wondering about what will happen to him next, but Holly Goldberg Sloan – author of the wonderful Counting By Sevens – has done so again in I’ll Be There. This is the story of Sam, raised by an abusive father on the run from the law, dragged from town to town with his younger asthmatic brother Riddle in tow. Life for Sam and Riddle is lonely and grim, their father exerting total and utter control over their lives. The boys don’t attend school and friends are definitely out of the question. One day Sam wanders into a church to listen to the choir and hears Emily singing. Emily is so terrified of singing to the crowd that she decides to focus on one face, and that face happens – luckily – to be Sam’s. Theirs is an instant connection, and this chance encounter profoundly changes both of their lives. Ultimately, Sam triumphs over the immense adversity life has thrown his way as his, Riddle’s and Emily’s lives entwine. The characters in this novel are so well developed and endearing and their stories are powerful enough to make them truly unforgettable.    BiP staff review by Cathy

Recommended for 13+

A Single Stone
Meg McKinlay
May 2015 | Walker Books | $16.95pb

Cut off from the outside world by a catastrophic earth tremor years earlier, the people trapped in the village at the heart of this novel develop their own system of survival. With little to grow and eat, the village must do whatever it can in isolation to continue; they tunnel deep into the mountains that tower over and encircle their village to harvest the mica that provides them with the fuel to go on. Every girl dreams of being part of the line - the chosen seven who harvest it - and no work is more important. Jena is the leader of The Line and, as all girls must be, she is small. Years of tough, physical training have seen to that. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything? This genuinely original, thought-provoking and beautifully-written story will, as with Holly Goldberg Sloan’s I’ll Be There, stay with readers long after the book has been finished. Wonderful.    BiP staff review by Cathy