The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Wow! What a gruelling read in some parts – details of the Aussie POWs on the Thai/Burma Railway during WWII. Great writing by Flanagan, and clever, thought-provoking weaving and juxtaposition of love stories across eras and cultures. Human frailties are dealt with respectfully, and Flanagan’s portrayal of the Japanese soldiers provides great background and analysis into what we perhaps see as brutal barbarism. Excellent history, and yet not for the faint-hearted. Perhaps more of a blokes’ book!
The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. Well another of those outstanding and astounding debut novels…loved every page of it, and am predicting it may become a Book Club fave this year. Alex is a strange and wondrous young man, and his encounter with a seemingly cantankerous American man is life-changing for him. This novel treats a delicate subject (and sorry, I don’t want to reveal what it is!) with just the right touch: tender and not soppy; brave and frank. Great characters, quirky and real. Up there with The Rosie Project for me.