Caroline Overington : Who Has Time to Read?

Author: Caroline OveringtonWalkley Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Caroline Overington ponders the age-old question, who has time to read?

Do you know that I’ve done in the last two months?

I’ve read three books.

That’s probably not amazing to anyone that reads a book a month – or even a book a week – or to people who have several books on the go at once … but it’s pretty amazing for me.

I’ve been writing a book a year for the past five years.

I’ve also got a job. I’m the associate editor of the iconic The Australian Women’s Weekly.  Just this month, I interviewed Anna Bligh, who is going through cancer treatment, and profiled the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, which involved going out to the Pilbara for several days.

Also this year, I’ve interviewed Ellen DeGeneres, in Los Angeles. And Helen Mirren, in London.  And Ricky Martin … and quite a few other people. I’m also involved in a long-running investigation into Carmel Brookes, a kind-hearted Brisbane woman who is missing at sea. I’m trying to find out what happened to her, and I’ve been to Thailand, trying to retrace her steps.

I also have two children – twins, aged 13. They’re doing year eight, so I’m helping out with homework, and making sure they eat well, and generally loving them a lot.

I have a husband. I’ve got a blue dog, and we’ve got a lizard. I volunteer at our local surf lifesaving club. I go to the personal trainer three times a week. I have friends that I like to see whenever I can … and my family is spread all over the country … so it’s not often that I get time to sit down and really lose myself in a great book, let alone three.

Maybe I just got lucky, but all three of the books I read were brilliant. All were by Australians – and I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt, to be truly lost in their pages. I felt like I was on holidays! Transported. Which is how a good book should make you feel.

Here are the books I read:

Stop PressClick here for more details or to buy Stop Press:The Last Days of Newspapers by Rachel Buchanan: I know Rachel (who, now I think of it, might technically be a New Zealander.) We used to work together at The Age in Melbourne. We were all kids then. The Age had so much money to spend on journalism. Everyone read it. Politicians shook their fists at it. Rachel’s has written about the slow decline in the paper’s circulation, about the giant presses that have fallen silent, and about the challenges currently facing the once-great lady. I wept a bit.

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Click here for more details or to buy The Night GuestThe Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane: the main character is so loveable. She’s getting on a bit, and her husband has recently died. She thinks that a tiger is coming to visit her at night. She can hear it padding about on its big paws, in the lounge room. She tells her son, who lives abroad, and he gets concerned, and the next thing, a government worker turns up, to give the old lady a hand, but pretty much straight away, you can tell that something is not right with this government worker. I wept a bit more. This is a lovely book.

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Click here for more details or to buy Murder in MississippiMurder in Mississippi by John Safran: this is a true crime book about how John met a white supremacist in Mississippi, and later became a Facebook – and even a real friend – of the black man who killed him. I didn’t weep with this one, except at the beauty of it. John’s book is one of the best pieces of sustained, rigorous journalism I’ve read in 20 years. It is absolutely magnificent –  smart, and wry, and emotional too.  Obviously, if you are going to buy one book this Booktoberfest, I think you should buy mine. But if you’ve already gone mine, buy John’s.

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Thank you, Caroline. You’re always welcome on the Booktopia Blog!

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Click here for more details or to buy No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

By: Caroline Overington

From bestselling author and award-winning journalist Caroline Overington comes another thought-provoking and heart-rending story, that reaches from the heart of Bondi to a small village in Tanzania.

Shortly after 9.30 in the morning, a young man walks into Surf City, Bondi’s newest shopping complex. He’s wearing a dark grey hoodie – and a bomb around his neck.

Just a few minutes later he is locked in a shop on the upper floor. And trapped with him are four innocent bystanders.

For police chaplain Paul Doherty, called to the scene by Superintendent Boehm, it’s a story that will end as tragically as it began. For this is clearly no ordinary siege. The boy, known as Ali Khan, seems as frightened as his hostages and has yet to utter a single word.

The seconds tick by for the five in the shop: Mitchell, the talented schoolboy; Mouse, the shop assistant; Kimmi, the nail-bar technician; and Roger Callaghan, the real estate agent whose reason for being in Bondi that day is far from innocent.

And of course there’s Ali Khan. Is he the embodiment of evil, as the villagers in his Tanzanian birthplace believe? Or simply an innocent boy, betrayed at every turn, who just wants a place to call home?

About the Author

Caroline Overington is the Associate Editor of the iconic magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Caroline has won the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism twice, and she’s a former winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for journalism, and of the Blake Dawson prize.

She is the author of five bestselling novels: Ghost Child, I Came to Say Goodbye, Matilda is Missing, Sisters of Mercy and No Place Like Home.

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy, answers Five Facetious Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy

Five Facetious Questions

 ——————————-

1. Every writer spends at least one afternoon going from bookshop to bookshop making sure his or her latest book is facing out and neatly arranged. How far have you gone to draw attention to your own books in a shop?

It’s not a book shop story, but I once asked my Mum to carry a copy of my latest book onto the plane when she was coming to visit me, and to gasp and says things like, ‘wow, this is amazing!’ while pretending to read it. She just rolled her eyes at me.

2. So you’re a published author, almost a minor celebrity and for some reason you’ve been let into a party full of ‘A-listers’ – what do you do?

There is a very good chance that I wouldn’t know who anybody was. I would be bumping into Zayne or Payne or Layne or whatever his name is from One Direction, and saying things like, “And why exactly aren’t you in bed at this late hour?”

And if by chance my 12-year-old daughter was with me, she’d be dying of embarrassment.

3. Some write because they feel compelled to, some are Artists and do it for the Muse, some do it for the cash (one buck twenty a book) and some do it because they think it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex – why do you do write? (NB: don’t say -‘cause I can’t sing, tap or paint!)

I’m attracted to industries with what might some have cruelly called the “dying industries” …. Besides being a novelist, I’m also a newspaper journalist.

My ancestors were coopers and blacksmiths, I’m sure.

4. Have you ever come to the end of writing a particularly fine paragraph, paused momentarily, chuffed with your own genius, only to find you’ve been sitting at the computer nude or with your dress half-way over your head or shaving cream on your face or toilet paper sticking out the back of your undies or paused to find that you’re singing We are the Champions at the top of your voice, having exchanged the words ‘we are’ for ‘I am’ and dropping an ‘s’?

No? Well, what’s your most embarrassing writing moment?

It’s not book related, but I was once asked to cover an important match (game? tournament? whatever) between St Kilda, and some other Victorian football team, maybe Fitzroy … this was ages ago, when I was a cub sports reporter for The Age.

I’d never covered football before, and I went to a lot of trouble to make the copy sing, and quite proudly handed it in.

The sports editor, a busy and wonderful man, read it and said, ‘yes, lovely, marvellous description of the lawn and the leaves and the white picket fence around the ground … but what was the score, Caroline?’

I said, ‘the score?’

He said, ‘Yes, the score. As in, who won??’

It hadn’t occurred to me to take that down, but apparently people want to know.

5. Rodin placed his thinker on the loo – where and/or when do you seem to get your best ideas?

I go out to parties and listen very carefully and when somebody says something smart and funny, and after everyone has stopped laughing, I say: ‘oh, that’s good! Do you have copyright on that?’

Nine times in 10 they’ll be chuffed and they’ll say, ‘Nah, you can have it’ not thinking I actually will steal it from them. But I very definitely will.

Caroline, thank you for playing.

Booktopians are familiar with Caroline’s novels, we have gobbled them down one after the next. We can’t wait for Caroline’s new novel, Sisters of Mercy which is out in November – details below…

Sisters of Mercy

by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

Click here to buy Sisters of Mercy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Caroline Overington : Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

Caroline Overington

author of Matilda is Missing,
I Came To Say Goodbye

and Ghost Child

reveals…

The 5 best novels I read this year are…



The Spare Room

by Helen Garner

Blurb: Helen lovingly prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola. She is coming to visit for three weeks, to receive treatment she believes will cure her cancer.

From the moment Nicola staggers off the plane, gaunt and hoarse but still somehow grand, Helen becomes her nurse, her guardian angel and her stony judge.

The Spare Room tells a story of compassion, humour and rage. The two women—one sceptical, one stubbornly serene—negotiate an unmapped path through Nicola’s bizarre therapy, stumbling towards the novel’s terrible and transcendent finale.

‘A perfect novel, imbued with all Garner’s usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heart-breaking territory—the dying friend who comes to stay—and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book.’ Peter Carey

BUY



Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

Blurb: Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands’ suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a ‘walking streak of sex’.

These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed – and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired – in this utterly irresistible book. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.

BUY



The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Blurb: ‘Mary is a tough feisty character, who manages to turn a whole household, and the lives of those in it, completely upside down… The book is brim full of magic and joy’  – Sunday Telegraph.

Mary Lennox is an orphan who is sent to live with her uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor. Neglected and lonely, she begins to explore her new home and learns of a secret garden that her uncle has forbidden anyone to enter.

A friendly robin shows Mary the key to the garden and she discovers a world she could never have imagined…

The Secret Garden has enchanted generations of children and adults alike.

BUY



Blood Meridian

by Cormac McCarthy

Blurb: Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West.

Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect …He is a great writer’ – “Independent”.

‘I have rarely encountered anything as powerful, as unsettling, or as memorable as Blood Meridian …A nightmare odyssey’ – “Evening Standard”.

‘His masterpiece …The book reads like a conflation of the “Inferno”, “The Iliad” and “Moby Dick”. I can only declare that “Blood Meridian” is unlike anything I have read in recent years, and seems to me an extraordinary, breathtaking achievement’ – John Banville.

BUY



The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

A magical love story set to be the publishing sensation of 2011

Blurb: In 1886 a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, the Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. There are contortionists, performing cats, carousels and illusionists – all the trappings of an ordinary circus. But this is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs – the dreamers. And who is the sinister man in the grey suit who watches over it all? Behind the scenes a dangerous game is being played out by two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who, at the behest of their masters, are forced to test the very limits of the imagination – and of love.

A feast for the senses, a fin-de-siècle fantasia of magic and mischief, and the most original love story since The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Night Circus is an extraordinary blend of fantasy and reality. It will dazzle readers young and old with its virtuoso performance, and who knows, they might not want to leave the world it creates.

BUY


I reviewed Caroline’s new novel Matilda is Missing recently – here is a taste of that review:

I read Matilda is Missing in a few days. I was hooked within pages and found myself reading well into the night. I would pick it up in between times, too, snatching bite sized portions of the story while I was rushing to get ready in the morning – while the kettle boiled, before the toaster popped and while the kids printed off last night’s homework.

What surprised me most about my reading of Matilda is Missing was that I was reading it at all. If I were flicking through a newspaper or reading a magazine and I came across a story about the family court, or a grandparent’s right to access their grandchildren, or equal rights for fathers in divorce cases, I wouldn’t read beyond the headlines.

But I read Matilda is Missing.

I picked it up on a whim, curious to see what all the fuss was about (The success of Overington’s last novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, has the book world salivating over the sales potential of Matilda is Missing). I do that a lot. I pick up review copies here in the office and flick through a few pages, read a bit and then generally drop the book back on the pile. We have so many books to review. You can’t read them all. Read the full review…

My personal picks for 2011: Novels you can give as gifts with confidence

This year I read more novels by living, breathing writers than by stone cold dead writers. This is a first for me.

However, if the truth be told, many of the contemporary novels I started were left unfinished. It’s partly due to the nature of the job. Publishers throw box loads of fiction at us to review and I can’t read them all. And, it is partly due to the state of modern fiction – I expect a lot from the books I read and very few contemporary writers deliver.

That said, when I do fall for a novel, I fall hard.

The books of 2011 I recommend you read yourself and give as gifts to others are:


Australian Fiction


Last Summer by Kylie Ladd

By the simple act of telling a story a good book can carry a light into the dark and unexamined corners of a reader’s life. The darkest of these unexamined corners is occupied by the single irrefutable truth of our existence, death. Left in the shadows this stark fact can take on all of the attributes of a nightmarish spectre. Left unexamined we may be left entirely unprepared when death intrudes upon our own lives. Something it will do, eventually.

Last Summer by Kylie Ladd, begins with the sudden death of Rory Buchanan, captain of the local cricket team, a man in the prime of his life. We immediately enter the lives of those Rory left behind – his wife, Colleen, his sister, Kelly, her husband, Joe, and Rory’s friends and team-mates, Nick, James and Pete, and their wives, Laine, Anita and Trinity as they, in their various ways, cope with Rory’s death and face up to the fact that life does, and will, go on without him.

Last Summer is told from the points of view of these nine characters with full chapters from one point of view only. This method of storytelling requires strong characterisation so that each individual point of view provides a unique perspective on the events. By choosing suburban Melbourne as her setting, and the cricket club as her focal point, Ladd has made things difficult for herself. There is much that is necessarily shared by all of these nine characters. They are all white, they are all Continue reading

Matilda is Missing by Caroline Overington: a review by John Purcell

I read Matilda is Missing in a few days. I was hooked within pages and found myself reading well into the night. I would pick it up in between times, too, snatching bite sized portions of the story while I was rushing to get ready in the morning – while the kettle boiled, before the toaster popped and while the kids printed off last night’s homework.

What surprised me most about my reading of Matilda is Missing was that I was reading it at all. If I were flicking through a newspaper or reading a magazine and I came across a story about the family court, or a grandparent’s right to access their grandchildren, or equal rights for fathers in divorce cases, I wouldn’t read beyond the headlines.

But I read Matilda is Missing.

I picked it up on a whim, curious to see what all the fuss was about (The success of Overington’s last novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, has the book world salivating over the sales potential of Matilda is Missing). I do that a lot. I pick up review copies here in the office and flick through a few pages, read a bit and then generally drop the book back on the pile. We have so many books to review. You can’t read them all.

So I picked up Matilda is Missing. I read the preface. I was interested. I read the first page, then the second, then the third. It was compelling stuff. I was won over. I popped the review copy in my bag and took it home that night.

Yes, author Caroline Overington was the social welfare reporter for The Australian newspaper. Yes, she brought to bear all of her first hand knowledge and experience of the workings of the family court. Yes, Matilda is Missing is probably based on actual cases. But her articles were informed by such things, too, and I never read them. If she were to write a brilliant article tomorrow on the subject covered in Matilda is Missing, I wouldn’t read that either. I read about a subject I have no great interest in or patience with because I was beguiled by Caroline’s skill as a novelist.

This is the power of the novel. No other medium could have induced me to sit still long enough to appreciate the difficulties facing those who have to decide who gets custody of a child in a divorce case.

Matilda is Missing contains a story within a story, narrated by the very likeable, Barry. The framing story describes the heartbreak of a grandmother, Pat, Barry’s wife, who is barred from seeing her grandchildren and covers her very public fight for access. And within this frame, when an old friend, and former Family Court Judge, asks Barry to listen to recordings of interviews with a court appointed psychologist, we have the story of Softest Sound Monaghan, known as Softie (hippie parents) and Garry Hartshorn and their fight for custody of Matilda.Click here for more details or to order I Came to Say Goodbye

There is no right way to raise a child. It is and always will be a matter of dispute. Some may seem more right than others. Some may appear to horribly wrong. But who is to say who is right and who is wrong when two ordinary people with fairly similar notions of child raising claim to be the best person to look after their child? The court must dig deeper.

Softie and Garry are interviewed in their turn and are asked by the psychologist to relate the details of their lives. A novelist knows there are no ordinary lives. As their stories unfolded I found myself being convinced that Garry was right and Softie wrong, then moments later, that Softie was in the right and Garry in the wrong. I was exposed to the difficulties faced by the Family Court in making decisions concerning custody.

Matilda is Missing is a gripping read which takes an unflinching look at the impact Family Court decisions have on children, parents, grandparents and on those making the decisions themselves. That is, Matilda is Missing examines a subject we only ever consider when it is too late.

Did you read Caroline’s last novel, I Came to Say Goodbye? What did you think? Leave a comment below…

Click here to read Caroline’s answers to my Six Sharp Questions

Matilda is Missing is Available from 3rd October 2011: click here to order your copy from Booktopia. Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop and SAVE 21%

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing, answers Six Sharp Questions:

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing

Six Sharp Questions:

 ————————

1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

It is a novel, called Matilda Is Missing, and it is about a bitter custody battle in the age of shared care.

(BBGuru: publisher synopsis – Matilda Is Missing:

In the struggle between warring parents, who will protect the Continue reading

Matilda is Missing by Caroline Overington is out in October

Last year Toni Whitmont, editor-in-chief of the Booktopia BUZZ chose Caroline Overington’s I Came to Say Goodbye for her inaugural BUZZ CLUB pick.

Choosing a book club’s first book is difficult. Choosing a book for a club made up of 25,000 picky readers must have been terrifying. But Toni knows her stuff and I don’t think she could have chosen a better book than I Came to Say Goodbye to launch her book club because I Came to Say Goodbye is the kind of book which excites passionate discussion. Such passion is what makes a good book club great. On the back of Toni’s big initial BUZZ CLUB push, independent suburban book clubs all over Australia chose to read it, too, and Booktopia sold box loads of the novel. (Thanks, Caroline!)

Caroline Overington is now justly famed for bringing to life thorny social issues via the drama of her novels. Grittier that Jodi Picoult, Overington’s novels are firmly placed in today’s Australia, an Australia we sometime wish didn’t ring so true. She’ll get you thinking about a subject you thought you knew from an angle you didn’t know existed.

October sees the release of Overington’s latest novel… (we can’t wait) Continue reading

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