Lisa Heidke : Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

Lisa Heidke

author of Lucy Springer Gets Even,
What Kate Did Next
, Claudia’s Big Break

and, coming in January 2012, Stella Makes Good

reveals…

The 5 best novels I read this year are…


Raw Blue

by Kirsty Eagar

Lisa Heidke: Set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and marketed as a Young Adult, Raw Blue centres around Carly, a teenage surfer trying to find her place in the world. This emotionally gripping story easily crosses over into adult fiction. I find Eagar’s writing compelling and honest and her characters real and flawed. Loved this book.

Blurb: Readers of Tim Winton’s Breath will be drawn to Kirsty Eagar’s Raw Blue, an achingly beautiful young adult novel set in Sydney’s northern beaches. Winner of the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, it is a haunting story about finding your passion in life.

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafe. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

BUY


Indelible Ink

by Fiona McGregor

Lisa Heidke: Set in Sydney’s lower north Shore, this is at times an uncomfortable and confronting story about Marie, an older, divorced woman who breaks free from conservative ties… sad, funny, heartfelt, I so wanted life to improve for her. Indelible Ink stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

Blurb: Marie King is a fifty-nine, recently divorced, and has lived a rather conventional life on Sydney’s affluent north shore. Now her three children have moved out, the family home is to be sold, and with it will go her beloved garden.

On a drunken whim, Marie gets a tattoo – an act that gives way to an unexpected friendship with her tattoo artist, Rhys. Before long, Rhys has introduced Marie to side of the city that clashes with her staid north-shore milieu. Her children are mortified by their mother’s transformation, but have their own challenges to deal with: workplace politics; love affairs old and new; and, of course, the real-estate market.

Written with Fiona McGregor’s incisive wit and keen eye, Indelible Ink uses one family as a microcosm for the changes operating in society at large. In its piercing examination of the way we live now, it is truly a novel of our times.

BUY


The Life

by Malcolm Knox

Lisa Heidke: The story of once champion surfer Dennis Keith is an exhilarating, quirky ride. It took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with Knox’s writing style (for this particular novel) but once I settled into the story, I got swept along by the surf, the ambition, the obsession… the whole absorbing saga.

Blurb: Daring, dazzling, funny and heartbreaking, this is a story about fame and ambition, surfing and pine-lime Splices … a superbly written and ambitious novel by one of Australia’s rising stars. The Life will simply blow you away.

He looked into the Pacific and the Pacific looked back into him.

The Life tells the story of former-world-champion Australian surfer, Dennis Keith, from inside the very heart of the fame and madness that is ‘The Life’.

Now bloated and paranoid, former Australian surfing legend Dennis Keith is holed up in his mother’s retirement village, shuffling to the shop for a Pine-Lime Splice every day, barely existing behind his aviator sunnies and crazy OCD rules, and trying not to think about the waves he’d made his own and the breaks he once ruled like a god. Years before he’d been robbed of the world title that had his name on it – and then drugs, his brother, and the disappearance and murder of his girlfriend and had done the rest. Out of the blue, a young would-be biographer comes knocking and stirs up memories Dennis thought he’d buried. It takes Dennis a while to realise that she’s not there to write his story at all.

Daring, ambitious, dazzling, The Life is also as real as it gets – a searing, beautiful novel about fame and ambition and the price that must sometimes be paid for reaching too high.

BUY


Brother of the More Famous Jack

by Barbara Trapido

Lisa Heidke: First published in 1982, I revisited this book when I was bored and looking for something light and fun to read. Witty, funny, sad…and very clever. Highly recommended!

Blurb:  Stylish, suburban Katherine is eighteen when she is propelled into the centre of Professor Jacob Goldman’s rambling home and his large eccentric family. As his enchanting yet sharp-tongued wife Jane gives birth to her sixth child, Katherine meets the volatile, stroppy Jonathan and his older, more beautiful brother Roger, who wins her heart. First love quickly leads to heartbreak and sends her fleeing to Rome but, ten years on, she returns to find the Goldmans again. A little wiser and a lot more grown-up, Katherine faces her future.

Brother of the More Famous Jack is Barbara Trapido’s highly acclaimed and much loved debut; a book that redefined the coming-of-age novel.

BUY


The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

Lisa Heidke: I wasn’t sure about this book but was surprised and delighted. A moving, heartfelt and fascinating insight into complex female relationships, bonds and prejudices. Uplifting and powerful, I read The Help one rainy long weekend and don’t regret a single indulgent moment.

Blurb: Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver . . .

There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.

Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell . . .

BUY


Many thanks to Lisa Heidke for sharing her
Five Fiction Favourites for 2011 with us.

Lisa’s forthcoming novel, Stella Makes Good, is already causing a bit of a stir…

From The Daily Telegraph last week:

Author Lisa Heidke’s fourth book Stella Makes Good inspired by swingers sex party in Sydney’s Turramurra

By Felicity McLean

Picture: John Fotiadis Source: The Daily Telegraph

IT’S not every day you read about a sex party in Turramurra. So when local author Lisa Heidke read just that, it was too seductive to ignore.

“I was flipping through the North Shore Times and found a small article about a police raid on a swingers’ party just up the road from my home in Pymble,” Heidke explains.

Sydney group sex parties keep neighbours awake

“I thought it was hilarious. I mean, what would you do if someone invited you to a party up the road and you turned up to a sex party! And then imagine you saw your newsagent there. Or the butcher. Or you saw your friend’s husband there!”

Such a provocative prospect provided the launch pad for Heidke’s latest novel, Stella Makes Good. The fourth book in three years for the journalist-turned-author, it continues Heidke’s tradition of exploring contemporary life, even if it is a little more risque than her usual fare.

“When I was researching online I thought, ‘Oh, God! Am I accidentally going to access some illegal site and have the police turn up and confiscate my computer?’ ” she says. “I want to make it very clear that I didn’t go to any sex parties in researching my book!” Read the full story here…

Stella Makes Good

by Lisa Heidke

Can mother-of-three, Stella forge a new life for herself after the end of her marriage? A funny and insightful novel about love, friendship and the quest for happiness.

Stella Sparks is on good terms with her ex-husband, Terry, despite the fact he left her for another woman. Stella’s philosophical – the marriage had run its course, they remain friends and the wellbeing of their kids is central to both of them.

Stella’s two closest friends, Carly and Jesse, envy her togetherness and wish they could emulate it. Jesse’s husband, Steve, is a control freak who’s driving her crazy, but she has two small children and can’t see a way out. Carly, meanwhile, suspects her husband is having an affair and isn’t sure what to do about it.

Stella’s life takes a distinctly upward turn when she meets a handsome, apparently single – no ring, anyway – father at her son’s school speech night. For Carly and Jesse, however, the search for happiness and fulfilment proves more elusive…

With a healthy dose of humour and romance Stella Makes Good is about the games we play, the secrets we keep, the unpredictable nature of life and the importance of female friendship.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

VISIT BOOKTOPIA’S LISA HEIDKE AUTHOR PAGE

How it Feels by Brendan Cowell

How it FeelsYou have to hope that there isn’t too much of a self portrait in Brendan Cowell’s debut novel How it Feels. A quick check on the ubiquitous Wikipedia and it feels crushingly like Neil, the first person narrator in this story of suburban darkness that sucks out your soul. If Neil’s story is based on Cowell’s own, you have to wonder how he survived it.

Cowell is of course the much beloved actor, screenwriter and director. With the everyman good looks, he is known to audiences for his roles in Noise, Love my Way and Beneath Hill 60. He grew up in the beach suburbs of southern Sydney, the Shire as it is known, a place that is fiercely protective of its own culture. Sylvannia Waters (of 1990s television fame) is in the Shire. So is Cronulla Beach, the location of the race riots of December 2005.

How it Feels starts with Neil, his two mates Stuart and Gordon, and his girlfriend Courtney,  celebrating the end of school and contemplating their new adult lives. The scene is set during twelve hours of partying – twelve hours which sees lives changed, love unleashed, virginity lost and secrets buried.

A decade later, one is dead, one is famous, two are getting married and the truth is about to erupt.

How it FeelsHow it Feels is not a comfortable read. In fact, I don’t think I have had such a visceral reaction to a book since reading Christos Tsoilkas’ Dead Europe. Having said that, I picked up the proof copy at about 2 this afternoon, and didn’t put it down until I had got to the very last page.

Tsoilkas of course is much better known as the author of the Man Booker prize listed The Slap, which is a busts wide open the complexities of our multicultural inner suburban cities. He is certainly fascinated by our urban psyche and he recently endorsed Fiona McGregor’s Indelible Ink, which centred around a middle aged woman from a wealthy suburb who was finally waking up to possibility. Indelible Ink missed the mark with me. How it Feels is however in another class altogether. This is what Tsoilkas has to say about it.

How it Feels is a lacerating, blackly comic novel about the suburban masculine psyche, but it also extends a warmth and understanding to contemporary society that confronted my prejudices and force me to look at the world anew. Cowell’s voice is truthful, without any condescension. A smashing novel – urgent, challenging and humane”.

He is completely correct.

How it Feels was released in November

How it Feels is a blowtorch to the belly of the suburban dream. It is an unflinching in its dissection of the ties that bind, and the forces that blow everything apart. Cowell clearly has the voice of the contemporary Australian male, and it is a voice that is howling into the wind.

Brendan answered our Ten Terrifying Questions here

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