Another dysfunctional family book with abusive father, an alcoholic mother who dropped/threw a child into Niagara Falls (postpartum depression?) and three sisters who are the focus (how children cope). There is a chapter entitled Disneyland which is superb black humour; the next chapter is heartbreaking. Gowdy also wrote Fearless about a 9 year old girl who is abducted; the abductor is delusional and obsessed but amazingly becomes somewhat sympathetic because he tries to suppress his pedophilic tendencies. Both these books are tough reads but excellent.
- Winter’s End by Mark Helprin;
- The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman;
- Old Filth by Jane Gardam.
Double Fault by Lionel Shriver;
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
- Majorr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson (very British story of honour and duty, unrequited love, racism and sexism …)
- The Boy In The Striped Pajamas – John Boyne (the tragedy of the holocaust from the contrasting viewpoints of two nine year-old boys)
- Behind The Scenes At The Museum – Kate Atkinson (her first book, excellent story-telling, both funny and sad; another “bad mother” book cf. Silver Star)
- The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan (1880s Paris, three sisters and a dissolute single mother; one sister joins the ballet and is the model for Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Age 14”. A hard life)
- Lionel Asbo (Martin Amis);
- Bone and Bread (Saleema Nawaz; complex relationship between sisters in a story set mostly in Montreal’s Mile End);
- How To Be A Woman (Caitlin Moran; stories about growing up in England, alternating between hysterically funny and insightful/poignant);
- The Tiny Wife (Andrew Kaufman; only 85 small pages but such an imagination)
Y by Marjorie Celona (sad story of a child abandoned after birth and left at the YMCA in Victoria; her life in foster care and the back story of her mother and the events that led to the abandonment);
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (mystery involving a murder with the chief suspect being someone who is slipping into dementia).
Impostor Bride by Nancy Richler
- Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern): magic and reality are integrated
- The Informationist (Taylor Stevens): excellent adventure/mystery; intriguing central character; set in Africa
- 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami): outstanding; real imagination
- Dancing Lessons (Olive Senior): really excellent; introspection into roles as woman/wife/mother; failure to communicate; perception/reality
- Something Fierce (Carmen Aguirre): Giller winner; emotional cost of being a child of revolutionary parents in South America
- The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach): baseball as a metaphor for guy relationships and the pursuit of perfection
- Canada (Richard Ford): excellent
- By Blood (Ellen Ullman): really interesting book about identity, adoption, Jewish heritage
- Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn): really excellent psychological who-dunnit; best book in 2012
- Hanging Hill (Mo Hayder): excellent murder mystery set in Bath and SW England
- Defending Jacob (William Landay): legal thriller, about the possibility that a son is evil; really excellent
Defending Jacob (William Landay);
My Life (Alice Munro).