A well written novelisation of the real life of Alva Smith who married the young W Vanderbilt but even with his money they still found it difficult to break into the top rank of American high society. Alva decided to do things for herself so she built mansions and opera houses, was prominent in the suffrage movement and arranged good marriages for her daughters. Packed with characters, you discover Alva was a feisty woman ahead of her time, a change-maker in every sense of the word. A good book to gift, even better to read for pleasure.
November Road – Lou Berney $35
November Road is one of those surprising novels that take you out of your comfort zone but pull you in as soon as you begin reading. It has a short snappy style of writing, perfect for those occasional readers who aren’t sure what book to invest their leisure time in. November Road begins in the heart of New Orleans but Frank Guidry’s urgent journey takes him away from the life that he knows to a new way of living that means he isn’t just looking to survive but to live and love for the first time. Men and women youngish and older will all enjoy the hunt and chase of November Road.
The Lost Man – Jane Harper $38
Following on from the huge international success of her first two books The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has come up trumps with yet another atmospheric tale of life in the Australian outback. Descriptive prose and those emotional family ties combined with complicated a back story of a troubled brother all go to make The Lost Man one of the holiday season’s must-reads. If and when the movies are made they will show the real Australia to the rest of the world.
From the Ashes – Deborah Challinor $37
From the Ashes is set in 1950s Auckland and women are joining the workforce for the first time. One young woman gets a job on the cosmetic counter of Smith and Caugheys and is taken under the wing of a wealthy customer. Changing attitudes and new freedoms can also cause problems and young Allie Manaia is faced with some difficult choices regarding her extended family and her new found wealthy friends. A comfort read pure and simple, perfect for Mum or a favourite aunt and easy to borrow back, too.