Union Street – Pat Barker

A few pages in, I realised that I’d read this novel before – but given that I’d not recognised it from reading the blurb on the back and leafing through a few paragraphs, it was no less enjoyable second time around.

The book tells the stories of X residents of Union Street, in working class Newcastle(?) not so very long ago. Each has their own story to tell, and the narrators are mainly women. Through these (fictional) women’s stories, Pat Barker shows you childhood, rape, a backstreet abortion, childbirth and death and whilst there is a backdrop of poverty, their lives are not entirely without love or hope.

Buy it: Amazon link

Dirt Music – Tim Winton

A fantasitc modern Australian novel, which starts in a town north or Perth, and then sets off along the sparsely populated coast of Western Australia, heading into the poisonous hinterland around the mining town of Wittenoom en route to Broome and the Kimberley, and thence onwards to the northern coastline between there and Kununurra. Placenames which will be all the more meaningful if you’ve been to this part of the world, and could inspire you to visit if you have not.

The landscapes Tim Winton crafts en route is simply a backdrop to the lives of the characters living their lives in these remote parts, where life is more like the Wild West than Home and Away. And all the better for that.

One of the best novels I’ve read this year.

Buy it: Amazon link

A Misalliance – Anita Brookner

I think I may be nearing the end of my Anita Brookner phase. Tales of single women (and occasionally me) of a certain age and their quiet London lives are just too small scale for me at the moment. The horizons in travel writing are set that much higher.

Still, I enjoyed this slim tale of an abandoned wife, although I couldn’t help but be irritated by her rather naive attitude towards the sponging step-mother and toddler duo she falls in thrall to.

Buy it: Amazon Link