What we’re reading: Cline, Gifford & Stayman-London

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Lian Hingee is reading One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London

I’ve just finished reading One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London about a plus-size fashion blogger who becomes the new love interest in a Bachelor-esque TV show called The Main Squeeze. Bea Schumacher is unlucky in love, still hung up on an old crush, and fed up with the lack of diversity on reality TV. When her frustrated blog post about the general line-up of skinny white women on dating shows goes viral, Bea is offered the opportunity to be the show’s new star.

On the surface One To Watch seems to be a light-hearted romp full of glamourous fashion, gorgeous men, and entirely OTT romantic getaways, but novel packs an unexpectedly political punch. Less surprising, when you discover that Stayman-London is also a political strategist who worked as the lead digital writer on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In my spare time I write a plus-size fashion blog of my own, and Stayman-London has done a brilliant job of capturing the many-faceted experience of being a woman (especially one that doesn’t adhere to society’s beauty standards) in the public eye. Through a variety of different lenses – blogs, group chats, podcasts, think pieces – One To Watch reveals the full gamut of responses, from the support and love Bea receives from women thrilled to see someone like them on the screen, to the flip-side of rape threats, abuse, name calling and (my favourite) concern-trolling.

Read it for the fantasy and the fashion (Stayman-London name drops some great real-world labels throughout the book). Read it for the romance. And read it for the opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who’s definitely heard enough fat jokes to last a lifetime.


Tye Cattanach is reading Daddy by Emma Cline

Daddy, the new collection of short stories by Emma Cline could easily be hailed as a masterclass in short story writing. Each story could easily have become its own novel, yet Cline has skilfully reined each narrative into a tightly woven masterpiece. The stories feel expansive and generous, despite the fact that most span barely 20+ pages. There is an intimacy to these stories that at times made me feel uncomfortably voyeuristic, and an underlying tension and menace that is ever-present, though it never actually culminates in the imagined violence I was subconsciously braced for. A brilliant, if tense read, I highly recommend.


Bronte Coates is recommending two recent children’s novels

I recently read two excellent illustrated children’s novels.

From Melbourne-based author-illustrator Lucinda Gifford, The Wolves of Greycoat Hall follows a wolf family on holiday as they travel to Scotland to reconnect with their heritage. Amid gorgeous scenery they discover prejudice, kindness, delicious baked goods, and plenty of history – including an ancient castle with a secret. Curious young Boris is impossible not to love, and I’m very happy to hear there are more of his adventures to come.

The always wonderful Clara Vulliamy also presents the first book in a junior fiction series: Marshmallow Pie: The Cat Superstar. Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy (and grumpy) cat who loves the easy life, but his competitive spirit is ignited by the prospect of stardom – and of beating his annoying doggy nemesis in the process.

Both these recent releases are sweet, funny and charming, with wonderful illustrative details such as maps, factual asides, and more. While Gifford’s book is pitched slightly older, both are ideal picks for beginner readers, and would be well-suited to a family readaloud.



Emma Cline

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