Sunday, January 08, 2012


Holidays are a time for reading.
Making a cup of tea, sitting in a quiet place and losing time in a story.

It can be a little difficult with 3 children who constantly want to "do something".

I began these holidays reading "The Bean Patch" by Shirley Painter.

"An extraordinary memoir of abuse, survival and recovery in the tradition of Bad Blood and Once in A House on Fire.
Shirley Painter is 83 years old. She shouldn′t be. When she was four years old she was so badly injured she was pronounced dead and taken to the morgue.
The man who so severely injured her was her father.
Told in the third person, this is the story of how a young girl survived growing up in a volatile household in the 1920s and 1930s. How school - and later university - became her escape route from a family filled with secrets and violence.
It is also a story of how, as a mature woman and a mother herself, she came to face what had happened to her as a child. How she had to bring long-buried memories into the light in order to move on.
Beautifully written, this is a disturbing, compelling and ultimately inspirational story."

I was engrossed. I read it quickly, taking it everywhere I went, and it was over all too soon.
Yes, the story was dreadful, but Shirley's survival and her writing isn't.
You can read a review of it here.

I then began "A Fraction of the Whole" by Steve Toltz. It is a book I have had on my shelf for ages, meaning to read it every holiday.

"Meet the Deans.
The Father is Martin Dean.
He taught his son always to make up his mind, and then change it. An impossible, brilliant, restless man, he just wanted the world to listen to him – and the trouble started when the world did.

The Uncle is Terry Dean.
As a boy, Terry was the local sporting hero. As a man, he became Australia's favourite criminal, making up for injustice on the field with this own version of justice off it.

The Son is Jasper Dean.
Now that his father is dead, Jasper can try making some sense of his outrageous schemes to make the world a better place. Haunted by his own mysteriously missing mother and a strange recurring vision, Jasper has one abiding question: Is he doomed to become the lunatic who raised him, or a different kind of lunatic entirely?

From the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to strip clubs, from the jungles of Thailand to a leaky boat in the Pacific, Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole follows the Deans on their freewheeling, scathingly funny and finally deeply moving quest to leave their mark on the world." (Penguin) 

I began it. Roared through the first third. But now I've stalled. I'm not sure whether I'm bored with it now, or what the problem is.
Maybe I will read something else and come back to it.


Little Gumnut said...

I'll look out for the first book - it sounds very powerful!

Leanne said...

I read a fraction of the whole and found that last third could have been left out. Loved the beginning, like you.

Angie said...

I'm watching what you're reading at the moment Jenny. Perhaps I'll find something to read during the holidays, but I don't think I could do anything too heavy with a new baby in the house. I'm still far too hormonal for that. I'm reading the Hobbit at the moment and have a pile of books to take with me when we go away at the end of the week.
I wonder how many of those I'll be allowed to get through. lol Any? ; )