Current Book Club Titles 

February 2019

wb

Washington Black

Author: Esi Edugyan

Avenue Elsternwick Book Club members click here to rsvp for this month's meeting

MEETING TIMES:

Tuesday 26th February 2019, 7pm LIMITED PLACES STILL AVAILABLE

Wednesday 27th February 2019, 7pm FULLY BOOKED

Click here for reading notes or more information on this book

NOTES: Shortlisted 2018 Man Booker Prize - A dazzling new novel of slavery and freedom by the author of the Man Booker and Orange Prize shortlisted Half Blood Blues.

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, nervousness and fear run high. Washington Black - an eleven-year-old field slave who has known no other life - is aghast to find himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde - naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist - whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him. Through Wilde, Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea viewed from a hilltop shivers with light; where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky; where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning.

Then, on a disastrous voyage of escape, Wilde disappears. Washington is forced to make his way back to the civilized world alone. One day, however, a man appears in the doorway of his new life, making claims of the past. Is this truly the long-lost Wilde? If so, what are the real motives for his return? And is it possible that his resurrection will destroy everything?

Based on an infamous 19th-century criminal case, Washington Black tells the story of a world destroyed and made whole again, where certainty seems unattainable, and men must remain strangers even to themselves.

 

 

March 2019

chloe

The Arsonist

Author: Chloe Hooper

Avenue Elsternwick Book Club members click here to rsvp for this month's meeting

MEETING TIMES:

Wednesday 27th March 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END FEBRUARY

Thursday 28th March 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END FEBRUARY

Click here for reading notes or more information on this book

NOTES: The Arsonist takes readers inside the hunt for a fire-lighter. After Black Saturday, a February 2009 day marked by 47 degree heat and firestorms, arson squad detectives arrived at a plantation on the edge of a 26,000-hectare burn site. Eleven people had just been killed and hundreds made homeless. Here, in the Latrobe Valley, where Victoria's electricity is generated, and the rates of unemployment, crime and domestic abuse are the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn't know. 

The Arsonist tells a remarkable detective story, as the police close in on someone they believe to be a cunning offender; and a puzzling pyschological story, as defence lawyers seek to understand the motives of a man who, they claimed, was a na'f that had accidentally dropeed a cigarette.

It is the story not only of this fire - how it happened, the people who died, the aftermath for the community - but of fire in this country. What it has done, what it has meant, what it might yet do. Bushfire is one of Australia's deepest anxieties, never more so than when deliberately lit. Arson, wrote Henry Lawson, expresses a malice 'terrifying to those who have seen what it is capable of. You never know when you are safe'.

As she did in The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper takes us to a part of the country seldom explored, and reveals something buried but essential in our national psyche. The bush, summertime, a smouldering cigarette - none of these will feel the same again.

 


 

April 2019

chloe

Katalin Street

Author: Magda Szabo

Avenue Elsternwick Book Club members click here to rsvp for this month's meeting

MEETING TIMES:

Tuesday 16th April 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END MARCH

Wednesday 17th April 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END MARCH

Click here for reading notes or more information on this book

NOTES: In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. A game is played by the four children in which Bálint, the promising son of the Major, invariably chooses Irén Elekes, the headmaster's dutiful elder daughter, over her younger sister, the scatterbrained Blanka, and little Henriette Held, the daughter of the Jewish dentist.

Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection. But the girl survives in a miasmal afterlife, and reappears at key moments as a mute witness to the inescapable power of past events.

As in The Door and Iza's Ballad, Magda Szabó conducts a clear-eyed investigation into the ways in which we inflict suffering on those we love. Katalin Street, which won the 2007 Prix Cévennes for Best European novel, is a poignant, sombre, at times harrowing book, but beautifully conceived and truly unforgettable.

 


 

May 2019

chloe

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

Author: Andrew Miller

Avenue Elsternwick Book Club members click here to rsvp for this month's meeting

MEETING TIMES:

Tuesday 22nd May 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END APRIL

Wednesday 23rd May 2019, 7pm BOOKINGS OPEN END APRIL

Click here for reading notes or more information on this book

NOTES: The rapturously acclaimed new novel by the Costa Award-winning author of Pure, hailed as 'excellent', 'gripping', 'as suspenseful as any thriller', 'engrossing', 'moving' and 'magnificent'.

One rainswept winter's night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain's disastrous campaign against Napoleon's forces in Spain.

Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind. He will not - cannot - talk about the war or face the memory of what took place on the retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he lights out instead for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer with secret orders are on his trail.

In luminous prose, Miller portrays a man shattered by what he has witnessed, on a journey that leads to unexpected friendships, even to love. But as the short northern summer reaches its zenith, the shadow of the enemy is creeping closer. Freedom, for John Lacroix, will come at a high price. Taut with suspense, this is an enthralling, deeply involving novel by one of Britain's most acclaimed writers.

'His writing suspends life until it is read and is a source of wonder and delight' Hilary Mantel on Casanova in the Sunday Times