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Riverina Regional Library Book Club List of Titles 2010

Monica ALI, Brick Lane - Monica Ali's gorgeous first novel is the deeply moving story of one woman, Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage. Gradually she is transformed by her experience, and begins to question whether fate controls her or whether she has a hand in her own destiny.

Isabel ALLENDE, Ines of My Soul - This magisterial work of historical fiction recounts the astonishing life of Ines Suarez, a daring Spanish conquistadora who toiled to build the nation of Chile--and whose vital role has too often been neglected by history.

Niccolao AMMANITI, I’m not Scared - When Michele Amitrano stumbles onto a boy held prisoner in a hole deep in the Italian countryside, he begins a journey that will lead him to a series of startling discoveries. I'm Not Scared is a powerful tale of how one boy finds the courage to overcome his fear, risk his life, and make wrenchingly difficult moral choices.

Margaret ATWOOD, The Blind Assassin – This is an award winning novel which opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a -novel.

Jane AUSTEN, Persuasion - How far should one yield to persuasion from older, wiser, loving people? When is advice interference? In Jane Austen’s last completed work her characteristic incisiveness gains an autumnal tone.

Murray BAIL, Eucalyptus - A fable-like novel from prizewinning Australian writer Bail poses an age-old question: How do you win a woman's heart?

Muriel BARBERY, The Elegance of the Hedgehog - The book follows events in the life of a concierge, Renée Michel, whose deliberately concealed intelligence is uncovered by an unstable but intellectually precocious girl named Paloma. Paloma and Renee hide their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. But everything changes when a new tenant arrives, a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu.

Mary Ann SHAFFER and Annie BARROWS, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

Alan BENNETT, The Uncommon Reader - By turns cheeky and charming, the novella features the Queen herself as its protagonist. When her yapping corgis lead her to a mobile library, Her Majesty develops a new obsession with reading.

John BOYNE, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - A story of innocence existing within the most terrible evil, this is the fictional tale of two young boys caught up in events entirely beyond their control.

Charlotte BRONTE, Jane Eyre - A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre (1847) dazzled and shocked readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom.

Olive Ann BURNS, Cold Sassy Tree - Cold Sassy Tree is a 1984 novel by Olive Ann Burns. Set in a fictional Georgia town called Cold Sassy during 1905-1906, it follows the life of young Will Tweedy, and explores themes such as religion, death, and social taboos. It is light, funny and tender.

Liz BYRSKI, Gang of Four - Gang of Four is a very different coming-of-age story in that the protagonists are all in their fifties. Author Liz Byrski does a superb job of crafting four very different stories which overlap, diverge and merge again throughout the book.

Truman CAPOTE, In Cold Blood – In Cold Blood weaves a complicated psychological story of two parolees who together commit a mass murder of a family in Kansas, an act they were not capable of individually. Capote's book also details the lives of the victims and the effect the crime had on the community where they lived. A pioneering book of True Crime.

Anthony CAPELLA, The Various Flavours of Coffee – A passionate adventure set against the backdrop of the coffee trade. Stretching from London to Africa at the turn of the last century, The Various Flavours of Coffee is a sweeping saga of forbidden love, trade secrets, and the playfully delicious story of a young man’s coming-of-age.

Peter CAREY, His Illegal Self - His Illegal Self is the story of Che. Raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. An achingly beautiful story of the love between a young woman and a little boy.

Chris CLEAVE, The Other Hand - It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn't. And it's what happens afterward that is most important.

Paul COELHO, The Alchemist - The Alchemist is an allegorical novel first published in 1988. It follows Santiago, a young boy Spanish shepherd, on a journey to fulfill his Personal Legend. It has been hailed as a modern classic. The plot is inspired by Jorge Luis Borges' short story: Tale of two dreamers.

J.M. COETZEE, Disgrace – The Booker Prize winner in 1999, Disgrace is the story of a South African professor of English descent who loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his good looks, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his cherished daughter.

Joseph CONRAD, Heart of Darkness - Recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.

Anita DIAMANT, The Red Tent - The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah from the Bible, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph, a talented midwife and proto-feminist. The book's title refers to the tent in which women of Jacob's tribe must, according to the ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth, and in which they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts.

Charles DICKENS, Great Expectations - On Christmas Eve, young Pip, an orphan being raised by his sister and her husband, encounters a convict in the village churchyard. The man, who has escaped from a prison ship, scares Pip into stealing him some food and a file to grind away his leg shackle. This incident is crucial: firstly, it gives Pip, who must steal the goods from his sister's house, his first taste of true guilt, and secondly, Pip's kindness warms the convict's heart. The convict, however, waits many years to truly show his gratitude.

Robert DREWE, The Shark Net - Aged six, Robert Drewe moved with his family from Melbourne to Perth, the world's most isolated city - and proud of it. This sun-baked coast was innocently proud, too, of its tranquillity and friendliness. Then a man he knew murdered a boy he also knew‌

Kim EDWARDS, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter - A doctor delivers his own twins, and upon seeing that the daughter has Down's syndrome, tells his nurse to take the baby to an institution and never reveal the secret. The nurse disappears into another city to raise the child herself in this tale of redemptive love and long-buried secrets that unfolds over a quarter of a century.

James ELLROY, The Black Dahlia - The murder of a beautiful young woman in 1947 Los Angeles sparks a great investigation in which Bucky Bleichert, Lee Blanchard, L.A.P.D. Warrants Squad cops, ex-boxers, friends, and adversaries become obsessed by the case.

Laura ESQUIVEL, Like Water for Chocolate - Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in tumof-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

Jeffery EUGENIDES, Middlesex - The story of Calliope Stephanides, who discovers at the age of fourteen that she is really a he. Cal traces the story of his transformation and the genetic condition that caused it back to his paternal grandparents, who happen also to be brother and sister, and the Greek village of Bithynios in Asia Minor.

F. Scott FITZGERALD, The Great Gatsby - Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Set in 1920’s America.

Richard FLANAGAN, The Unknown Terrorist - The Unknown Terrorist makes use of the post-911 worldwide fear of terror attacks as the driving force behind this savagely relevant novel. We are taken on a nightmare ride through a city that has been whipped up into an "alarmed, not alert" frenzy.

Helen GARNER, The Spare Room - Helen prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola, who is flying down from Sydney for a three-week visit. But this is no ordinary visit Nicola has advanced cancer. She is coming to Melbourne to receive treatment she believes will cure her.

Robert GOOLRICK, A Reliable Wife - He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

Philippa GREGORY, The Other Boleyn Girl - When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen....

Kate GRENVILLE, The Idea of Perfection - The Idea of Perfection is a romance between two people who have given up love. Set in rural New South Wales, Douglas Cheeseman and Harley Savage first clash over the conservation of the old bridge, but eventually a closer relationship develops.

Sara GRUEN, Water for Elephants - Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind, memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

David GUTERSON, Snow Falling on Cedars - San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.

Mark HADDON, The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time - Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

Rosalie HAM, The Dressmaker - Peopled with exotic characters, this is a story of love, hate and haute couture, set in a country town that's disconcerting to visit but a bitingly comedic and heart-breaking place to live.

Thomas HARDY, Tess of the D’Urbervilles - When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall.

Joseph HELLER, Catch 22 - Set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.)

Victoria HISLOP, The Island - A richly enchanting novel of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Mediterranean during World War II, The Island is an enthralling story of dreams and desires, of secrets desperately hidden, and of leprosy's touch on an unforgettable family.

Kazuo ISHIGURO, Never Let Me Go - As a child, Kathy– now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

Lloyd JONES, Mr Pip - Matilda lives on an island somewhere in the Pacific-but this is no paradise. Civil war is a fact of life, though at first the village is largely left alone by the soldiers and the rebel fighters. The school is closed but then Mr Watts, the only white man on the island, steps forward to do what he can to help. He begins by reading Great Expectations aloud to his students…

Adib KHAN, Spiral Road - Masud Alam has lived in Australia for the past 30 of his 53 years. Now his father, Abba, is dying, drifting in a haze of Alzheimer′s, and Masud has returned to Bangladesh to say goodbye and to reconnect with his family.

Sue Monk KIDD, The Secret Life of Bees - The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily, a fourteen-year-old girl who runs away from her unloving father to search for the secrets of her dead mother's past.

Barbara KINGSOLVER, Poisonwood Bible – The story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

Harper LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird - To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee's first novel. The book is set in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. Atticus Finch, a lawyer and a father, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a poor white girl, Mayella Ewell

Marina LEWYCKA, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian In this comedic debut novel, two feuding sisters team to save their father, an elderly Ukrainian widower (and author of a book on tractors) living just outside of London, from the very young, voluptuous Valentina, who is attempting to seduce him (and his money).

Alexander MCCALL SMITH, No.1 Ladies Detective Agency This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe. Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter.

Cormac MCCARTHY, All the Pretty Horses – The tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey

Ian MCEWAN, On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan's novel about a disastrous wedding night brings the grand narrative of history to bear on the small picture of individual lives.

Monica MCINERNEY, A Taste for it - Laura Carmody's off on the trip of a lifetime. A talented chef, she's traveling around Ireland for a month to promote Australian food and wine.

Hugh MACKAY, Winter Close - Winter Close, a small culde-sac, is home to an eclectic group of people, including Tom. Tom is pleasant but conscious not to pry. So it comes as a shock to discover that his reserved, introverted manner may have isolated him from the rest of the residents. In fact he might not know them as well as he thinks‌

Gabriel Garcia MARQUEZ, Love in the Time of Cholera Florentino Ariza has never forgotten his first love. He has waited nearly a lifetime in silence since his beloved Fermina married another man. No woman can replace her in his heart. But now her husband is dead‌

Yann MARTEL, The Life of Pi - The only survivor from the wreck of a cargo ship on the Pacific, 16 year old Pi spends 221 days on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker ...

Alex MILLER, Journey to the Stone Country - Betrayed by her husband, Annabelle Beck retreats from Melbourne to her old family home in tropical North Queensland where she meets Bo Rennie, one of the Jangga tribe. Intrigued by Bo's claim that he holds the key to her future, Annabelle sets out with him on a path of recovery that leads back to her childhood and into the Jangga's ancient heartland.

Roffey MONIQUE, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England. George instantly takes to their new life, but Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill at ease with the racial segregation and the imminent dawning of a new era.

Kate MORTON, The Forgotten Garden - On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell O'Connor learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.

Haruki MURAKAMI, Norwegian Wood - A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.

Irene NEMIROVSKY, Fire in the Blood - The novel is narrated by Silvio, a solitary old man looking back at his life, the passions of his youth, and the folly still being committed because of the madness of love.

Audrey NIFFENEGGER, The Time Traveller’s Wife The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view.

Jodi PICOULT, My Sister’s Keeper – An emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood.

Ann PATCHETT, Bel Canto - Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage….

Annie PROULX, The Shipping News - When Quoyle's twotiming wife meets her just desserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life.

Ian RANKIN, Exit Music - (Inspector Rebus novel) It's late autumn in Edinburgh and late autumn in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he tries to tie up some loose ends before retirement, a murder case intrudes…

Matthew REILLY, Temple - Deep in the jungles of Peru, the race of the century is underway. A race to locate a legendary Incan idol an idol carved out of a strange kind of stone.

Arundhati ROY, The God of Small Things - Tells the story of one very fractured family from the southernmost tip of India. Here is an unhappy family unhappy in its own way, and through flashbacks and flashforwards The God of Small Things unfolds the secrets of these characters' unhappiness.

Bernhard SCHLINK, Homecoming - When young, fatherless Peter Debauer discovers an incomplete story in a volume of fiction, he becomes obsessed with the tale of a soldier, presumed dead, who returns home after the war.

Alice SEBOLD, The Lovely Bones - Our narrator Susie Salmon is already in heaven. Murdered by a neighbour when she was only fourteen years old, Susie tells us what it is like to be in her new place.

Lisa SEE, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - A language kept a secret for a thousand years forms the backdrop for an unforgettable novel of two Chinese women whose friendship and love sustains them through their lives.

Lionel SHRIVER, We Need to Talk About Kevin- Kevin Katchadourian killed seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher, shortly before his sixteenth birthday. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband Franklin, the story of Kevin’s upbringing.

Craig SILVEY, Jasper Jones - A riveting tale, set in 1960s small -town Australia, about a young, bookish adolescent who is drawn into events surrounding the grim disappearance of a local girl when the solitary Jasper Jones, a rebellious mixed-race older boy comes asking for his help.

Nicholas SPARKS, The Notebook - A man with a faded, wellworn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn't understand. Until he begins to read to her. an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever.

John STEINBECK, Of Mice and Men - Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except each other and a dream – a dream that one day they will have some land of their own.

Patrick SUSKIND, Perfume - Patrick Suskind's classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man's indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

Donna TARTT, The Secret History - Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.

John Kennedy TOOLE, A Confederacy of Dunces - wildly inventive comic masterpiece that features one of the most unforgettable characters in modern fiction: Ignatius Reilly, a mammoth misfit Medievalist hilariously at odds with the 20thcentury world.

Christos TSIOLKAS, The slap - At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

Mark TWAIN, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Climb aboard the raft with Huck and Jim and drift away from the "sivilized" life and into a world of adventure, excitement, danger, and self-discovery.

Oscar WILDE, The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works.

Tara June WINCH, Swallow the Air - When May's mother dies suddenly, she and her brother Billy are taken in by an aunt. However their loss leaves them both searching for their place in a world that doesn't want them. May sets off to find her father and her Aboriginal identity.

Tim WINTON, Dirt Music - Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, she finds herself stranded in White Point with a fisherman she doesn't love and two kids whose dead mother she can never replace.

Charlotte WOOD, Submerged Cathedral - Spanning many years, travelling across Australia’s vast continent and through some of Europe’s great cities, The Submerged Cathedral is a beguiling, heartbreaking story of paradise and the fall, of sacrifice and atonement, and of sisterly love and rivalry.

Richard YATES, Revolutionary Road – Frank and April Wheeler are a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary.

Carlos Ruis ZAFON, The Shadow of the Wind - It is 1945 and Barcelona is enduring the long aftermath of civil war when Daniel Sempere’s bookseller father decides he is old enough to visit the fabulous secret library, the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’. There, Daniel must ‘adopt’ a single book, promising to care for it and keep it alive always.

Markus ZUSAK, The Book Thief - It is 1939. Nazi-Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will become busier still. Liesel and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich.

RRL Book Club  

RRL Book Club