Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orpheus Lost | Janette Turner Hospital

Yet another fantastic novel by Turner Hospital. Based on how much I enjoyed The Claimant, I read this book. She sure can tell a good story!

Orpheus Lost is a melting pot where music, maths, modern day terrorism, identity and love all melt into one wonderful narrative. It centres around Mishka and Leela, who find each other in New York and who are torn apart by music, math and their identities. Leela is from the Deep South of America, brought up on a strange mix of fervent Christian beliefs which centred around finding meaning and guidance in Biblical numerology. Her mother dies young, and her father clings to religious fervour so as not to lose his way.
Leela rebells agains all that and moves away to the Yankee North and is seen as a traitor to her family heritage. Her passion is numbers and especially the math of music. She is in postgrad work and loves the calmness she attains by enveloping herself in these two areas.

Mishka is a lost soul. He grew up in Australia, brought up by loving grandparents and a solo mum. Not much is known about his father, who was Lebanese. He is immersed into the Jewish traditions his family clings to so as to make sense of the devastation they suffered in the Holocaust. Mishka's mother is a botanical illustrator who came back to the Northern Queensland landscape to have Mishkah and live in the treetop house her parents built.

In New York, Mishka discovers his Lebanese self through the study of the oud. As he composes for the violin and oud, both parts of his heritage come together and recreate a sense of who he is. Then he is drawn into a group who meets at the local mosque...

Things start to unravel for all the characters. The narrative is gripping and draws the reader into the inevitable chaos and conclusion of the story.

Extremely well told, well crafter. I will seek out more of Turner Hospital's novels.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Valley of Amazement | Amy Tan

Amy Tan is an all  time favourite author of mine. This story does not disappoint. It touches on the lives of three women who are connected by two continents, China and America and it spans about fifty years.

Violet is a celebrated Shanghai courtesan who is half American and half Chinese. Although famous as a courtesan, underneath all the fame and glamour she struggles with her identity and her abandonment by her mother Lucia.

Lucia is a wild American woman who falls in love with a Chinese painter in San Francisco and follows him to Shanghai. There she gives up her daughter and struggles with that for the rest of her life. Eventually she searches for Violet's daughter Flora, and through her tries to gain healing and redemption.

Tan is masterful at exploring the relationship between mothers and daughters. She also touches on the mysteries of love and family secrets and how they can shape many generations.

Can it, bottle it, smoke it | Karen Solomon

Anyone who is interested in a bit of fun in the kitchen would do well to own this book. Full of great ideas and recipes to do with preserving bountiful seasonal ingredients to be enjoyed in leaner seasons.

It is comprehensive and very useful, nothing too complicated. Inspired me to get into the kitchen and be more involved in preserving what is available each season.