Holiday Recommendations: Day Two

Winter wonderland or not, there are holidays coming up and you’re probably looking for gift inspiration. Martin and Associates is here for you with more of our favourite books of 2018. Read on and stress less!

Margot’s Pick: Jerome By Heart by Thomas Scotto and Olivier Tallec (Enchanted Lion, 9781592702503)

Perfect for: children who need a sweet, calming read about love and friendship

This story follows a little boy named Raphael, whose daily rhythm is steeped in his immense affection for his friend Jerome. The two boys share jokes and snacks and plan future adventures to the Himalayas. Even when Raphael’s constant talk of Jerome is driving his parents crazy, he remains steadfast: “Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It’s easy.” And the truth is, when he’s with Jerome, Raphael feels happy, liked, and understood – even special. Thomas Scotto’s simple, strong, and insightful prose and Olivier Tallec’s delightful, expressive illustrations give much emotion and immediacy to this tender story of two boys, and that first, innocent crush.

Bronte’s Pick: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland (House of Anansi, 9781487005221)

Perfect for: fans of Alice Hoffman and novels about moving through tragedy

This is a truly enchanting and poignant story about Alice Hart, a young woman who wrestles with the secrets of her family and her own heart. With the same magic as an Alice Hoffman novel but with darker layers, Holly Ringland’s writing will leave you filled with warmth and itching to book a ticket to Australia.

Protagonist Alice Hart’s family suffers a tragedy when she is only nine years old, forcing her to leave their idyllic seaside home to live with her grandmother, June. June raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run her flower farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family’s story. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man. It’s an exciting and heartbreaking story that will stay with you.

Michael’s pick: City of Crows by Chris Womersley (Europa Editions, 9781609454708)

Perfect for: the historical fiction lover, fans of magic realism

Inspired by real-life events, the novel is set in seventeenth-century France when the countryside is besieged by plague. A widow is driven from her village with her last remaining child and forced on a perilous journey to search out her brother and shelter in Lyon. French families have been decimated as fear, hunger and sickness have weakened the social fabric, and the country is in the thrall of dark magic. The road to Lyon is no place for a mother and young child, and Charlotte Picot and her nine year son Nicolas are soon set upon by marauding kidnappers who take Nicolas to Paris and leave Charlotte for dead. She is saved by an old woman who heals her wounds using natural remedies. The woman then entrusts Charlotte with a powerful book of spells and potions that will help lead her to Nicolas, while exposing her to the dark and brutal nature of humanity. Lesage, a newly released prisoner from the galleys, meets Charlotte on the road to Paris—a spell is cast and the pair travel together tracking Nicolas’ kidnappers. Dazzlingly told with humour and flair, City of Crows is atmospheric, adventurous, spine tingling, and stylishly written.

Author Chris Womersley lives in Melbourne and is the author of five novels, and his short stories have been published in Granta. He received a grant from the Australia Council of the Arts and was able to spend time in France extensively researching for City of Crows, which spent months on the Australian bestseller lists. The characters in Paris are historical figures who were part of a network of fortune tellers, poisoners, and abortionists during the reign of Louis the XIV. 

Stay tuned for our next three picks!

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