A stack of promising new novels has thudded onto the Fiction Addiction desk.
We've gone trans-Tasman in our choices for November feature reads, with Kiwi Paula Morris's colonial-era Rangatira and Australian Alex Miller's Autumn Laing.
Our other Fiction Fix picks below take us to a spooky lodge in North Carolina, a convent in rural France and a west coast North Island beach.
Read on to get your Fiction Fix and find out how you can win copies of our two feature books.
1. Rangatira by Paula Morris
Rangatira, which was launched last night in Auckland and hits book stores today, is the story of a Ngati Wai chief who reflects on a dramatic episode from his past while sitting for the painter Gottfried Lindauer in Auckland in 1886. Paratene Te Manu's mind returns to a remarkable journey he made to England some 20 years earlier, stacked with half a dozen other Maori leaders into the steerage compartment of a sailing ship. Triumph and humiliation lie in store. Like many of the novels we've featured in Fiction Addiction this year, it's based on a true story. Bronwyn has chosen to read and blog about this one throughout the month. If you're tempted to read along, check out the extract here.
2. Autumn Laing by Alex Miller
When world-weary 85-year-old Autumn Laing spies Edith Black in the street, she feels compelled to revisit her love affair with Edith's husband Pat Donlon more than 50 years earlier. In the 1930s, Autumn and her husband Arthur were influential supporters of the Australian art scene. The story of her affair with the young artist is interspersed with her elderly self's reflections and search for redemption. This is a fictional tale by author Alex Miller, although inspiration for the central characters came, at least in part, from well-known Melbourne art patrons John and Sunday Reed and the artist Sidney Nolan. The Australian Book Review called it an "indispensable novel". "All of Alex Miller's wisdom and experience - of art, of women and what drives them, of writing, of men and their ambitions - and every mirage and undulation of the Australian landscape are here, transmuted into rare and radiant fiction."
Christine has chosen this as her feature book for November. Thinking of joining her? Read an extract here.
3. Obedience by Jacqueline Yallop
The past also haunts Sister Bernard, one of three remaining nuns at a convent in rural France that is the setting for Obedience by Jacqueline Yallop. The convent is about to close and, as the nuns prepare to leave, disturbing memories resurface from 60 years earlier, when Sister Bernard was the subject of a bet among occupying Nazi soldiers. Seduced by one of the soldiers, she develops an all-consuming desire that rivals even her passion for God and has devastating consequences for both herself and the village. The UK's Independent described the book as a "spellbinding tale of betrayal and illicit desire ... a compelling and quietly devastating story about a woman destroyed by her faith."
4. The Kindness of your Nature by Linda Olsson
A west coast North Island beach is the beautifully rendered setting for Linda Olsson's lastest offering, The Kindness of Your Nature. When Swedish-born doctor Marion Flint encounters a six-year-old boy named Ika lying face down in the sand, the two develop an unlikely bond that leads Marion to revisit the loss and grief in her past. (It seems revisiting the past has become the inadvertent theme of this month's Fiction Fix.) The Listener praised Olsson's poetic prose, and described the book as "incredibly relentlessly sad ... The tragedies of the novel, combined with the powerful resonance of the windswept and lonely coast, makes The Kindness of Your Nature a heavily atmospheric novel of great - and sometimes overwhelming - emotional weight."
You can read an extract here.
5. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
Another lonely setting provides the backdrop for Nightwoods, the latest novel from Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier. The reclusive Luce is the lone caretaker of an isolated and dilapidated lodge hemmed in by mountains, a forest and a lake (so your bog-standard setting for an American wilderness thriller). She reluctantly inherits her murdered sister's strange, damaged twins - and the predator who is hunting them. The Washington Post called it "a fantastic book: an Appalachian Gothic with a low-level fever that runs alternately warm and chilling." The Independent said Frazier's "spare prose paradoxically oozes atmosphere - you can almost smell the verdant pine trees and hear the crack of twigs underfoot".
To be in to win a copy of both Rangatira and Autumn Laing, click here and tell us what book is at the top of your Christmas wish-list. We have three sets to give away. Competition closes November 15.
- Herald online