The 5 best novels I read this year are…
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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
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.
“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…
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.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.