Springtime reads - Top reads for Spring
Dedicate some lying-down time to our picks of the best
reads this season
In The Kingdom Of Men,Kim Barnes
East meets West in this novel about a dirt-poor girl from '60s mid-west America, who marries her sweetheart and moves to Saudi Arabia for work on the oil rigs. Gin McPhee's adventurous spirit sees her shun the cocktail parties in favour of a burgeoning career as a photo-journalist. Gin is ambitious and at times a little reckless which results in her unwittingly putting her husband in danger. The book is an interesting reflection on feminism and racism at a time of great cultural change.
The Girl Below, Bianca Zander
Suki Piper at 28 is a sad, lost young woman. Her mother died 10 years earlier and her father moved on with a new family in New Zealand. Suki returns to her native London where she fails spectacularly to find a job or friends. She's adopted by a family she grew up with and then things get weird. Suki has waking dreams about a night in the garden when she was a child trapped in an old air-raid shelter. A moving and wonderful story that should be top of your reading pile.
Say It Again in a Nice Voice, Meg Mason
It takes a rare talent to turn a fairly ordinary life - albeit with some trans-global meandering - into a hilarious and engrossing read. But Meg Mason manages this in great self-deprecating style. She not only captures the essence of parenting preschoolers - with all the drudgery and loneliness - but makes you, as a mum, feel great about it, while laughing at yourself and all the mums you know. New Zealand-born Meg admits she's a glass-half-empty kind of person, for whom the glass is also chipped. But be warned: she'll have you in stitches and she'll make you cry, all at the same time.
The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year, Sue Townsend
Michael Joseph, RRP$37
It was a tomato soup stain on the embroidered silk of her favourite chair that sent Eva upstairs and into bed. And she stayed there a year. During that time numerous eccentric characters parade through her bedroom including her super-intelligent, geeky twins, their sociopathic and compulsively lying "friend", plus her husband and his lover of eight years, Titania. Eva's fame spreads and a suicidal taxi driver turns up at 3.30am to ask her advice. Soon fans are camping outside her home. But what is Eva really looking for? This is another amusing read from the creator of Adrian Mole.
The Not So Perfect Life of Mo Lawrence, Catherine Robertson
Black Swan, RRP$37.99
What a fascinating bunch of characters Kiwi writer Catherine Robertson has created - there's loud-mouthed, shoot-from-the-hip Michelle, her gypsy friend with a massive chip on her shoulder, their much put-upon love interests, a surly teenager and a couple of preschoolers. Mix with a cluster of uber-rich 'Frisco socialites and see whether they sink or swim.
Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
This is a classic in capital letters but don't be put off by the old-fashioned delivery. Slow yourself down and savour it because this is a great story and the literary richness is worth the effort. Bathsheba, our wilful heroine, inherits a large farm and soon finds herself being courted by three men. Gabriel, the gentle shepherd, Boldwood, a rich farmer, and Troy, a dazzling swordsman. But love doesn't run smoothly for Bathsheba as she gets caught up in a tragic romantic drama.