Family Trust, Kathy Wong, $35
Loved this book and it turned into a far more substantial novel than I first thought it would be. The Huang family of a father, mother and a new wife and two grown up children are going through a family crisis as the father, Stanley, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Each in their own way begin guessing how much Stanley has as a legacy for them. Will they get their share of millions or will he leave everything to his new wife? But there is more to the story, it is about the power of a job with a title, your standing in your community, the aspirations of those who are working in Silicone Valley waiting for the next big new thing to make their fortune or the stress of your job disappearing and your lifeline with it. There are moments of great wit and then the sadness of losing a parent . All in all Kathy Wang has brought aspirational American Asians right into summer reading in a very clever way.
A Keeper, Graham Norton, $38
Yes, it is that Graham Norton and yes he can write a good novel. This is a story based in Ireland of a daughter returning from America to clear her late mother’s house. She is torn between leaving her teenage son in America and taking time going through all her mother’s letters. She discovers a secret which takes her to another small village and more secrets. Norton can get into the head of a woman and he has sharp observational skills about the interaction of families and the petty jealousies that bubble under the surface of family life. Good bookclub pick if it is your turn.
Life as a Novel, Philip Temple, $45
This is a jolly good read about not so jolly people. Hypnotic reading about the life, times, winnings and woes of Maurice Shadbolt. Temple has done a forensic job of scrutinising every detail of not only Shadbolt’s writing career but his intensely chaotic personal life. All is explained in great detail, plus there is great insight into the politics, morals and machinations of the writers and artists and reviewers of the formative years of New Zealand literature as we know it. Waiting eagerly for the next volume.