Being a keen tramper myself with Kahurangi National Park on my doorstep, Ray Salisbury’s book ‘Tableland’ is a real treasure for me. Ray is the great-great grandson of John Park Salisbury whose brother Thomas discovered the Tableland in 1863. I love the fact that the author is connected to the land through family and is a keen tramper himself.
Since I read this epic American novel, it has been longlisted from the Booker prize. The judges this year wanted to ensure that the books listed for the award were enjoyable to read - and this one certainly is. And a good lockdown read, as it is long, rich with characters and story - and explores plenty of interesting places, including a nice piece in New Zealand.
“Can you watch something die and let it die?” The global mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, and consequential human deaths. The plundering of the environment, and consequential deaths of humans, non-human and ecosystems. The decades of spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing global warming and multiple natural disasters, causing deaths of humans, non-humans, communities, and environments. I often imagine the desperate frustration of those scientists, those ignored Cassandras with libraries full of prophesies, who must watch helplessly as their worst predictions unfold. This desperation is what The Impossible Resurrection of Grief is about.
A retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette set in 1920s Shanghai, including an enemies -to friends - to lovers - to enemies relationship, LGBTQIA+ rep and social commentary around colonialism and prejudices, this is a Young Adult novel with enough depth to capture adult readers as well. Plus, a strange river monster.
17 year old diarist Cassandra records life living in genteel poverty in a rundown castle sometime in the 1930s. Her Father, who once wrote a seminal book hasn't published a word since and spends his days in seclusion in the gatehouse doing crossword puzzles. His wife, Cassandra's stepmother Topaz, once the muse of the London art scene also has no income so Cassandra, her sister Rose and brother Thomas live happily but well below the breadline and have resorted to selling furniture to the vicar for food. The only person in the household who seems capable of earning an income is Stephen the gardener, whose affection Cassandra does not return.