What we’re reading: Gentill, Kennedy & Jasinska

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.


Joanna Di Mattia is reading Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Sometimes you pick up a book, think it looks okay, and it turns out to be so much more than that. Trespasses by Louise Kennedy is one of those books. It arrived at the store with little fanfare, but I found myself drawn to it, as is often the case, for reasons I can’t quite explain.

The debut novel from the 50-something Kennedy, is a book of tremendous insight, tenderness and emotional intelligence. While the basic premise makes it sound conventional, maybe even clichéd – Belfast, 1975, a 24-year-old Catholic woman has an affair with an older, married Protestant man – it’s the way Kennedy paints inside and outside this central, sensual and completely believable relationship that brings the story to life. Cushla and Michael are beautifully drawn, fully flesh and blood characters, and Kennedy is deeply sensitive to everything that hurts them and makes them feel alive.

Their relationship unfolds amidst the Troubles, making it feel doomed from the start; but it’s so stunningly and intimately observed that every moment between them feels like a bomb going off. Kennedy is so good on the small daily betrayals that come with life in an occupied city – how difficult it is to remain kind, compassionate, and good in the midst of all these compromises. I love this book and I’ve been evangelising about it all over the shop to whoever will listen. It’s the best thing I’ve read this year.


Jackie Tang is reading The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

From the very first chapter of this twisty, self-aware crime novel, I knew I was hooked. Four strangers (a law student, a psych student and two writers) are studying in the Boston Public Library when a bloodcurdling scream pierces the quiet dome of the reading room. In the aftermath, our quartet start something of a friendship, grabbing coffee and exchanging numbers while the police scope out the area. When a body is found in the library the next day, the group reconvenes, inextricably connected by their proximity to the murder, and by their growing fascination with each other. So far, so normal … but these characters are actually part of a mystery within a mystery. In fact, these are chapters of a new novel by successful Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone, sent to her friend, Leo, in Boston to fact-check and read for any errant Australianisms. In alternating chapters, we read Leo’s eager letters to Hannah … which grow increasingly more enthusiastic.

I loved Gentill’s mix of classic whodunnit mixed with meta-analysis of a writer’s process and their relationship with readers. The way she switches between the dual narratives works like an engine propelling you through the book at breakneck speed. Whenever I thought I had something figured out, like Leo (oh no, are we readers Leo?), the author would pull a surprising reveal on me. And even if you’re not like me, and you do manage to predict the shape of the story, there’s an extremely satisfying feeling in watching all the intricate cogs click together. Highly recommended for anyone who wants an extremely good time with a book, or if they’re suffering the week-long waits between episodes of Only Murders in the Building.


Clodagh Robinson-Watts is reading Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska

A dangerous, seductive game of fire and shadows played on a dazzling board of biting winter and bright, dizzying festivities, Midnight Girls is a fresh new fairytale written the good, old-fashioned way: through the past, darkly.

Witch apprentices Midday & Midnight have been raised in their respective realms of the woods, kept apart, but pitted against each other their whole lives. However, Midday’s witch has grown tired of her failings, and has given her one last chance to prove herself against her antithesis in a test as old as time: be the first to steal the handsome, pure, prince’s heart. Literally, not figuratively. But when the girls anonymously meet by chance on the shiver inducing journey while true nightmarish visages are hidden behind human exteriors, they each begin to question just what it costs to exist in the darkness, powers and all.

Alicia Jasinska’s sapphic, Slavic fable is an absolute must-read for fans of Naomi Novik and Laini Taylor.

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The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

Sulari Gentill

$32.99Buy now

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