An epic story of trees, ecological activism and US logging history.
➽ “It’s no exaggeration to say that they novel has genuinely changed my life. It’s a very solid work of fiction that has given me an awareness of our environment that I had previously not been able to glean from non-fiction reading.
“Trees are solidly the main characters of this novel and humans gravitate around them in various storylines that generally end up intertwining and impacting on one another .
“The novel had moment so of triumph but ultimately left me feeling saddened and desiring. Is there such a thing as environmental anxiety. I think I have that now.” – Suzy.
To solve the future, we must save the past. My simple rule of thumb, then, is this: when you cut down a tree, what you make from it should be at least as miraculous
as what you cut down
➽ “After reading The Overstory I gather that Powers is deeply concerned about the state of the world’s forests. But rather than use writing as a medium from which to lecture the masses, he has incorporated his fears and dreams into a quality work of literature that educates and challenges the reader.
“The story follows several characters who share a love and childhood memories of trees, and a desire to halt ecological destruction. Each character and their history is indepthly explored and is so fascinating that by the time their paths cross I was heavily invested in their plans.
“It did get a little preachy near the end, but I forgave Powers his taking of liberties for he had so entertained me for the many previous hours.
“What I found particularly interesting was the research on how it is believed trees, in their natural environment, are able to “communicate” with one another and how they assist one another in growing as a community. The book is worth reading for this information alone. I really hope it was all true, otherwise Powers’ credibility is shot!” – Rachel
W. W. Norton Company
A study on institutional living, via prison inmate Romy Hall who is serving two life sentences.
➽ “There has been a LOT of hype about The Mars Room so I went in with high expectations. Having just binge-watched the latest series of Orange is the New Black on Netflix meant that the content of The Mars Room didn’t feel as fresh for me – this is no fault of the author of course!
“I deeply felt the struggles of the mothers in prison with their children either being removed from them or being completely inaccessible.
“While there were the occasional funny situations and lines this book overall conveyed an enormous sense of helplessness and despair which seems accurate based on anything I’ve ever heard about the American justice system. I just wanted there to be a nugget of goodness in this novel, something uplifting that gave me hope, but it just wasn’t to be.” – Suzy
No Tank Tops, the sign said at Youth Guidance. Because it was
presumed the parents didn’t know better than to show up to court
looking like hell. The sign might have said Your Poverty Reeks.
➽ “The Mars Room is less about Romy Hall and more about the premise of institutional living and a commentary on your increased chances of ending up there if you are on the poor side of working class.
“It’s an intense, totally immersive read, retelling incidents and tricks of the trade that have obviously been well researched. What appealed to me was the no-hold barred reveal of tension-building tales.
“There is a late charge on plot, but I guess this is a true reflection of prison life, the mundane and the habitual making up your day until one day something outrageous happens.
“I certainly liked The Mars Room (though I would have named it differently), but at this stage in my shortlist reading, it hasn’t blown me away as something I think will win.” – Rachel
A young woman is pursued by a renouncer terrorist in 1970s Northern Ireland.
➽ “The unnamed narrator in Milkman is the glue that holds the book together. She is the apolitical in a political novel, the every day logic amongst the absurdity of strife. Middle sister, maybe girlfriend, whatever you want to call her, is generous with her thoughts and observations of her environment, which is The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. Car bombs and telephone bugs are part of life yet so are the bizarre relationships she has with several characters. I liked her and her voice. A lot.”
“However, the real point of difference in this book is its vernacular. The prose is strikingly descriptive – sometimes things are described four or five or 20 times over, with as any synonyms as possible, and these parts were particularly fascinating. Burns uses some wonderful words in creative ways and I was just as intrigued by how this book was written as by the story itself.” – Rachel
Next came abortions and I had to guess them also, from ‘vermifuge, squaw mint, Satan’s apple, premature expulsion, being failed in the course of coming into being’ with any doubt dispelled by, ‘Well, daughter, you can’t disappoint me anymore than you’ve already disappointed me, so tell me –what did you procure and which of them drab aunts did you procure it of?
➽ “Whheewwww is how I felt when I finished this book. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not been in a rush to finish it alongside the other short-listers. It was a unique read and a massive eye-opener for me in terms of what life was like in a country with terrorism and very strong religious beliefs.
“It felt claustrophobic and oppressive and terrifying. It felt like I was wading through this novel rather than enjoying it – if wading was then intent of the author then goal achieved.” – Suzy
Nine characters recall their relationship with a young woman – the same woman – whom they have loved, or who has loved them.
➽ “The Nine Chambered Heart was my book, and I’m glad for the choice. The concept of nine different voices speaking of their relationship with the central character, is fresh and new. I loved the way we slowly discovered more about her, one puzzle piece at a time. It was a beautifully written novel, clever and gentle in its manner, easy to read. My only criticism of it at the time of reading it was that it felt incomplete. Although I realise it was the author’s intention to leave much unresolved, I felt that some point of finality would have made the book ‘fantastic’ rather than ‘good’. In reflecting on the book during book club discussion, my other issue was although there were nine different voices, these voices spoke in the same way. The writing style did not reflect the characters’ differences. This affected how authentic the voices were in my head. Overall however, a really engaging read I would recommend as a great book club title.” – Sonya
➽ “I loved how this novel offered a different concept to anything else I have ever read. It was a beautifully written story of love and loss. The premise of the book was unique, nine different people describe the same girl they loved at different points of her life. Throughout the novel there are no names or places mentioned, suggesting that these stories/memories can happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. Its a novel that you can’t really sink your teeth in but one you can sit back and enjoy it for what it is.” – Jodie
➽ “The Nine Chambered Heart is a work of experimental fiction, where nine people, over the stretch of a few decades, recall their experiences and relationships with the same woman. Written in the second person it certainly felt as though I was reading something quite special. At first I felt I was learning more about the associates’ lives but by the end I realised I understood the (nameless) woman on an emotional level rather than one based around her activities and opinions, and therefore the text had done its job. Even, what I felt was, objectification of the woman became a moral standpoint on topics relevant in today’s society. My only gripe was that the associates’ voices had a similarity to them but it was not enough to cloud my view on the book, and in fact had me pondering the potential relevance! Lovely book. Lovely cover. I recommend it.” – Rachel
Fourth Estate India