Tuesday, December 8, 2009

999 Challenge - November

The Neighbour by Lisa Gardner (Crime)
Sandra a teacher and Jason a reporter are a married couple with a three year old daughter who they are totally devoted to. They appear to be living the perfect life and then one night Sandra disappears without a trace. DD Warren is a career police officer who thinks Jason has something to do with the disappearence. Then there are the other suspects, a neighbour from a couple of doors down who is a registered sex offender and a student of whom Sandra has taken a special interest in.
The book is layered in secrets and deceptions and covers topics of sex offenders, child exploitation and internet crimes. I really enjoyed this book and will reading other titles by this author.
Diamonds and Dust by Sheryl McCorry (Biography)
I found a review of this book in Good Reading and thought it looked interesting. Sheryl grew up in the outback. At eighteen she married a man she hardly knew and at the wedding she locked eyes with a man across the crowded room. The man was Bob McCorry a drover and buffalo hunter who was twice her age. Sheryl marriage lasted only a couple of months and she then began an affair with Bob McCorry a union that would last a lifetime and take them into some of the harshed places in the Kimberleys. She learned to run rogue bulls, muster cattle and work within a team of men only stockmen. Sheryl and McCorry married and Sheryl became the first women to run a two million cattle station in one of the toughest terrians in Australia. Her life was not without tragedy losing her son at five years of age in an accident.
It is a story of hardship, love and joy and shows the strength this woman had and still has as she now lives between Mount Barker and Broome.
Access Road by Maurice Gee (Word of Mouth)
The story explores the world of seventy eight year old Rowan Pinker and her elderly brothers Roly and Lionel as they deal with old age, ill health and events in Lionel's past. After fifty years away Lionel and Roly return to the crumberling family home on Access Road. Rowan recalls the past, of Roly's disappearence from home at eighteen unable to cope with the pressure of an ambitious mother and Lionel who suffered from black moods and fits of violence who makes a career as a dentist which hold secrets of there own. Rowan escaped by marrying Dickie Pinker and moved to the better side of town. Rowan's brothers think that she should not delve into the past and to leave well enough alone. Rowan can not let go and her discoveries lead to a shocking conclusion.
The author's focuses are on family lives and behaviours that are often left stripped bare. I really enjoy this New Zealand author's books, his books are hard to put down. He is a great storyteller.

Monday, November 2, 2009

999 Challenge - October 2009

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (Books made into movies)
This book depicts life in America in the ninteen fifies. It is a story of hope, aspirations,unrealistic dreams, deceptions and tragedy. Frank and April Wheeler with their two children move to Revolutionary Road Connecticut. Although living in the suburbs Frank and April think they are different from their friends and neighbours. Trying to break out of their suburban lifestyle April convinces Frank they should move to Paris and start a new life, where she would support Frank while he decides what ambition he would like to follow other than the boring office job he now holds. April finds herself pregnant with their third child much to her dismay. Their plans begin to crumble. Unexpectantly Frank's superiors suddenly start to praise his work and Frank starts to think the job is not that bad after all. April starts to question her life and her love for Frank. She doesn't want another child and tries to abort it herself and things go terribly wrong.
This is a beautifully written book that has never dated, a true classic. The story was very complelling as is the film of the same name.
Call Waiting by Dianne Blacklock ( Chic Lit)
This a romantic chic lit novel set in Bowral. If you are looking for suprises or unhappy ending you won't find it in this book, it is sentimental and terribly predictable but lots of fun. The story line is about two old college friends Ally and Meg who are at a crossroad in their lives. Ally moves to Bowral to help an old friend in running a guest house to get away from a romance that is going nowhere. Meg on the other hand who has the perfect husband, child and lifstyle falls for the freckless Jamie who she mets at a photo shoot for the advertising company she works for. All comes good in the end when Meg and her husband sort themselves out and move from the corporate world to runing an art gallery in Bowral. Ally mets the local builder when he is doing some work at the guest house. She of course ends up as his wife and business partner working with him as an interior designer. The story is full of charm and wit. I liked it so much I have read two of her other books, Wife for Hire and Almost Perfect.
Breakout: How I escaped the Exclusive Brethern by David Tchappat (General Reading)
Could you imagine living life without television, music, computers, mobil phones, books (only those approved by the Brethern), no swimming or sport, no going out to the movies, told what you can wear or who you can marry. Children are not allowed to intergrate with the worldly children at school. Your only outing is going to church everday. Welcome to the Exclusive Brethern. It is all about controlling the followers. This is the story of a young man who was brave enough to make the break from the Brethern at nineteen. David has to be admired, coming from such a controlled environment and into the real world full of technology and things he had never experienced. He had no support from family or the friends he had known, as once you leave all contact ceases. The book tells of all the emotions David has to deal with along the way. This a very destructive sect that can take children away from parents for extended periods of time if they commit a simple misdemeanour in the eyes of the Brethern. While the leaders are running big busniesses and making big money they are telling their followers the worldly people are evil.
I found this book fasinating but felt incredibly sad for the children that are brainwashed and living in an insular world.
Born or Bred: the making of a mass murderer by Robert Wainwright (Crime)
This book looks at the psychological reasons why Martin Bryant killed thirty five people and injured twenty one. Bryant was always different growing up. It is thought he suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. Trouble really started when his father committed suicide. His father was his main carer always making sure his time was occupied. After his father's death he became obessed with death. Shunned by society and fuelled by the Dunblane massarce in Scotland, Bryant began collecting guns. His father had found him gardening work in a crumbling mansion owned by Helen Harvey and her mother. Helen was a virtual recluse but Helen and Bryant seemed to hit it off. She was much older than him but she seemed to understand him and they made an odd couple around the town. Unfortunately she is killed in a car accident and leaves him her fortune which enables him to buy the freedom to buy and stockpile guns. In his warped mind he feels he is the victim and whats to die. So he single handly creates one of Australia's greatest massarces. It is a no win situation for all involved including Bryant a pathetic man who did an unforgivable thing. He is a man with an IQ of a ten year old and the emotional state of a two year old. Why he did it we will never really know. What would have happened if Bryant was diagnosed with his problems when he was younger. If his father hadn't committed suicide and Helen Harvey hadn't left him all that money. If that gun seller hadn't sold him the guns. But it happened and can't be changed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

999 Challenge - September 2009

The Good Parents by Joan London (Australian Authors)
This is a story of loss and disappearences. Maya is a girl from Western Australia who moves to Melbourne to start a new exciting life after a failed relationship with a member of the Brethern. She finds work with a shady businessman Maynard whose wife is dying of cancer. Maynard initates an affair with Maya and after his wife dies lures her off to Queensland with him. Maya's parents are coming to Melbourne for a visit and Maya fails to let them know she will not be there. Toni and Jacob, Maya's parents arrive with baggage of their own from the past. Toni when in her teens becomes involved with a Perth racketeer and engages Jacob to help her disappear. Long before this Jacob's own father disappears and his mother arranges her own disappearence from Sydney to Perth. Jacob's sister Kitty returns to Perth after a long absence overseas and Toni friend and neighbour Chris vanishes overseas after meeting a man on the internet.
I was in two minds with this book as it didn't hold my interest all of the time it seemed to ramble on, never quite getting there.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas ( General Reading)
This book was on of the best reads I have experienced in a while, although the language and the sex were a little full on at times.
It starts at a BBQ with family and friends when Harry slaps three year old Hugo (who needs to learn boundaries) is treatening his older son. It is not so much about the slap but its far reaching effects on the people who witnessed it. The characters are mulicutural, young, old, gay and straight and are like onions they all have many layers. This book gets you thinking what would you do given the same circumstance could you choose between partner, family and friends.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Biography)
When Elizabeth turned thirty she goes through a mid life crisis. She no longer wants to be married or have a successful career or a beautiful home. She goes through a depressing divorce and a failed love affair. She is consumed with panic and grief. To recover and to give herself time and space she takes the radical step and quits her job, gets rid of all her material belongings and undertakes a year long journey. Firstly she goes to Italy then to India and finally to Bali spending four months in each place. This is a story of self discovery and what happens when you take responsibilty for your own contentment in life and when love is found in the least likely place. It was a very pleasurable read a travelogue of soul searching and self discovery.
Shark Net by Robert Drewe (Biogaphy)
This book is the biography of writer Robert Drewe. The story is intertwined with a series of murders that were committed by Eric Cooke a seial killer during the 1960's. Eric Cooke was the last man to be hanged in Western Australia.
It is also the story of growing up in the 1950's and 1960's in the isolated and unpretentious city of Perth. Uprooted from his home in Melbourne when his father is promoted to assistant manager in the Dunlop firm in Western Australia.
Robert Drewe starts his career as a young reporter on West Australian under the supervision of gruff police roundsman Ralph Wheatley. Drewe is sent to cover the committal hearing of Eric Cooke. It is revealed that Drewe knew Cooke as he was employed by Dunlops and did occassional work around the Drewe home. One of the people murdered was also a friend of Drewe's.
It was a good read, a wonderful portrayal of growing up in the 50's and 60's. A few years ago I had read Broken lives: serial killer Eric Cooke's secret crimes and it was good to read a diffrent perspective on the crime part of the story. The DVD of the same title is a must watch.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

999 Challenge - August

I have finally started on my classic reading list, classics that I have never gotten around to reading.
Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera (General Reading)
When reading this book I found it hard to believe that arranged marriages are still going on in the world today. Jasvinder is one of eight children, seven girls and one boy. It is her mother's quest to get all the daughters married off by arranged marriages by the time they are fifteen. Jasvinder and her family live in Derby, England where a large community of Indian people live. At fifteen Javinder is shown a picture of her future husband and told that she will shortly be sent to India to marry him. Meanwhile at school her school friend introduces Jasvinder to her brother Jassey and they become friends although they are of a lower class by her mother's standards. When the time draws closer for her to go to India Jasviner runs away with Jassey. This brings great shame on Jasvinder's family in the community. Her parent disown her. After a few months away she phones her family but the tell her she is dead in their eyes. Her younger sister Lucy gets in touch with her and eventally moves in with her when Lucy's marriage breaks down. Robina one of her other sisters asks for help from her parent as her husband is very abusive but they tell her that she must put up with it and make her husband happy as it will bring shame on the family if she leaves him. It is all too much for Robina and she doses herself in parifin and sets herself alight. Meanwhile the brother was allowd to marry a half caste Indian woman. Jasvinder has two children and several relationships and eventually helps look after her aging parents although she is never fully forgiven. Jasvinder returns to school and eventally to university and sets up a Centre in Derby so she can help these women.
This book certainally opened my eyes to traditions that are forced upon young girls in this day and age. There are many young women from this culture that are forced to kill themselves for the suffering that they endure. Some of these girls are highly intelligent but have never had the opportunity to a proper education. If they want to leave these abusive relationships, they have no money, no where to go or know no other life away from there community.
Finger Lickin Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (Crime)
This is number fifteen in the Stephanie Plumb series. Janet Evanovich seems to win the reader over with every new adventure. To tell the truth I thought I would be bored with these books by now but fortunatly they still hold my interest especially the Ranger/Morelli situation. Stephanie is on the case of murdered TV chef Stanley Chipolte with her partner in crime Lula of the plus size and personality. Short of money as always Stephanie takes a second job at Rangeman (bounty hunting being her first) working with her on again off again lover Ranger. They are investigating a series of break ins in places that the Rangeman security systems are installed. Meanwhile in the background in Joe Morelli (Stephanie's ex boyfriend at this point of time) hovering in the background waiting to whisk Stephanie away from Ranger if things get too heated. A funny read with all the usual characters.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Classic)
This is the story of Heathcliff who was a foundling on the streets of Liverpool and is bought to Wuthering Heights by the then owner Mr Earnshaw who raises him as his own. Catherine, Earnshaw's daughter and Heathcliff become inseparable. Hindley, Catherine's brother resents Heathcliff and when Earnshaw dies he brutally treats Heathcliff as farm labourer. Catherine becomes friendly with the neighbours the Lintons. Heathcliff overhears Catherine declare that she could never marry Heathcliff as it would be too 'degrading' and he storms out failing to her the rest of the declaration that 'she is Heathcliff' and her love for him is unmovable. Catherine ends up marring Edgar Linton. Heathcliff is now intent on destroying Catherine. Heathcliff elopes with Edgar's sister Isabella which places him in the position of inheriting Edgar's property if he was to die. Heathcliff and Catherine reconcile for a while. Catherine dies giving birth to a daughter named Cathy. Heathcliff's wife flees her abusive marriage and not long after gives birth to a son named Linton. Around the same time Catherine's brother Hindley dies and Heathcliff inherits Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is now left to raise his son after his wife dies along with Hindley's son who he treats as Hindley treated him. Heathcliff hates his son as he reminds him of Edgar. Linton and Cathy meet on the moors when they are out riding and form a friendship. Linton falls ill and Cathy goes to see if she can help. Heathcliff puts her under house arrest and forces Linton and Cathy to marry. Linton dies and Heathcliff inherits Thurshcross Grange. He now has control over both properties. When he eventally dies he is found lying on the bed with his hand outstretched to the open window where he often heard her voice, as if reaching for her hand. He was buried next to Catherine with Edgar on the other side. The rumour in the village is their ghosts can be seem wandering the moors.
I didn't really like any of the characters in the book ecept for Mrs Dean the narrator/housekeeper who was sensible, loyal and never lost hope. I expected Heathcliff to be dark, brooding and romantic instead he was possessive,controlling, manipulative and totally crazy in the end. This was Emily Bronte's only book and it did keep my interest to the end.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Classic)
Maxium's second wife who is the narrator is not actually named, reflects on a dream she has about Manderley and so the story unfolds. The narrator is a companion to a rich American, Mrs Van Hopper when she meets Maxium. Maxium asks her to marry him but Mrs Van Hopper thinks he is only marrying her to get over the death of his first wife Rebecca. Maxium brings his new wife home to Manderley. Maxium's housekeeper Mrs Danvers does not approve of the second wife as she was very devoted to Rebecca. With Maxium attending to his business affairs the new wife is left to fill in her time in an intimidating house left behind by Rebecca. Rebecca was drowned in what appeared to be a boating accident and her body indentifed by Maxium after it was found futher up the coast. The morning after the annual ball a boat has hit the rocks in the bay and a diver is sent down to invesigate the damage. The diver finds a sailing boat on the bottom of the seabed and when the boat surfaces and the body of Rebecca is discovered. Maxium tells the narrator that he never loved Rebecca and that he actually shot her due to her infidelities. Jack Favell who was having an affair with Rebecca accuses Maxium of murdering his wife. It appears she was pregnant and it is found in the court that she comitted suicide. Maxium and his second wife can finally get on with there life together and set off home to Manderley. As they approach they see the light spreading over the sky and relise it is not the sunrise but Manderley burning. I loved this book as I have loved the film. Maxuim is another brooding character. Not naming the second wife made her less confidant and vunerable. I felt the tention building throghout the story wondering what really happened. This book is must read for mystery lovers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

999 Challenge - July

I have managed to read ten books this month as I have been on holidays. I will only review a select few.
Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult ( General Reading)
Handle With Care is about a family with two daughters the younger being born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) commonly known as brittle bone disease. With the ongoing costs of raising a child with this disease the mother decides to sue for wrongful birth. She feels if digagnosed earlier in the pregnancy it could have been terminated. The conroversy is that the obstetrician is the mother's best friend. The father decides doesn't want to have anything to do with a court case as he doesn't want his daughter to think she wasn't wanted. The older daughter is unintentionally neglected and suffers from bulimia at this time. Sometimes you feel for the mother as she is trying to give her daughter a better future and how overwelmed she is in raising a child with OI but on the other hand to the detriment of the rest of her family. The characters are strong and complicated and of course there are many ethical issues raised. I really enjoyed the book but like all her books of late it seems to go down the same path with a different set health issues and ethical issues.
I recently went to see the film of the book My Sister's Keeper also by Jodi Picoult. I read the book a couple of years ago and was looking forward to seeing the film. It is the story of Anna who sues her parent for the right to make her own medical decisions. Anna was conceived by genetic engineering as a match for her older sister Kate who is suffering from leukemia. The story covers family issues during the trial. The ending was quite a suprise but with the film they completely changed the ending and it was such a let down. My friend who had not read the book loved the film but it left me very disappointed.
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks (General Reading)
The storyline is about a man and woman living next door to each other. Travis the male character in the story is of course perfect in every way, attractive, quick witted, smart, great with children and of course wealthy as he has a venteninary business. New neighbour Gabby bursts through the bushes that divide their houses yelling about his dog getting her dog pregnant. After spending a weekend together they fall in love and of course marry and have the perfect children and marriage. Eleven years along when driving home in a thunderstorm Travis crashes the car. Travis wakes up in hospital but Gabby remains in a coma. After a couple of months Travis is faced with a 'Choice' of a promise he made to Gabby a few years previous that if anything happens to her and she was in a long coma that Travis would turn off the life support. Even though it was a very predictable plot I couldn't put the book down. For a man, Nicholas Sparks writes a very good love story.
The Killing of Caroline Bryne by Robert Wainwright (Crime) This a story of justice and a father's determination of in fnding the truth about his daughter's death. It is also about the testing of the justice system which is taken to the limit. After thirteen years of investigation by police into Caroline's fiancee he was finally bought to justice. Gordon Wood was an arrogant self absorbed man who loved working out in the gym where he met Caroline. Wood chauffered for stock trader Rene Rivkin who at this time was going through a turbulent time himself. The death at the time was treated as a suicide as Caroline was found at the bottom of the Gap a popular place for suicide. The police investigation was botched from the start. Wood's behaviour after Caroline's death was quite bizarre. what finally led to Wood's arrest was science. Scientific test were carried out using police cadets to see if it was possible to jump from a cliff and land nine metres away. It was proved that it couldn't be done. The police thought Wood had an accomplice as Caroline, Woods and another man were seen in Watsons Bay on the day of Caroline's death. Wood was found guilty in November 2008 thirteen years after Caroline's death. Even though I think he did it, it is not without reasonable doubt as there was little hard evidence due to the botched crime scene in the first place. An interesting read. A movie is now in production from this book.
Testimony by Anita Shreve (General reading)
Testimony tells the story of teenage sexuality and the long term ramifications of what happens when a decision is made in the moment.
A video is given to the headmaster of the Avery Acadmey School which features a fourteen year old girl engaging in drunken sexual acts with three senior boys from the basketball team. The scandle shakes this private school to the core and changes the lives those involved forever. Who is to blame was it the boys because of their age taking advantage of the younger girl or was the girl a willing participant? She later claims she was raped. I think that decisions and actions taken in the heat of the moment will change lives forever and there is no going back. I really enjoyed this book a very compelling read.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

the 999 Challenge - June

Well here I am at the half way point. I have a bit of a mixed bag this month.
In My Fathers Den by Maurice Gee (Books made into movies)
I happened to come across this little gem when looking for books for my mother. This author is a well known New Zealand author and the story is set in New Zealand. As a young boy Paul Prior is allowed into the inner sanctum of his father's shed/den where a world of books await him. The den is is a bonding place for Paul and his father and a place to get away from Mum and his brother. Paul's past and family history turn him into a loner. Paul emotions run strong for a girl named Joyce with whom he shares a poem called Celia, unaware of how it will effect their future. Paul's friend Charlie steals Joyce from him and Paul moves away and becomes a teacher. Years later he returns to Wadesville to teach at the school where Joyce and Charlie's daughter Celia attends. Paul befriends Celia through their love of books. A murder takes place and Celia is the victim. It is here the story begins and retraces the steps that leads up to this senseless murder. When I finished the book and saw on the back cover that it was a film I went straight to the video shop to hire it. The film pretty much follows the book except Paul has a diffrent profession in the film, why do they do that? The story covers deceit, family and sins from the past. This book drew me in from the start and kept my interest to the chilling end.
Dear Fatty by Dawn French ( Biography)
The title is actually the name of Dawn's best friend and longstanding comedy partner Jennifer Saunders (because she is the thinner one). The book is set out in a series of open letters especially to her late father who committed suicide when she was 19. She wants to let her father know what has been going on in her life since he has been gone.It is a hilarious (as you would excpect) and moving collection of letters from her childhood, moving around as an Air Force family, to the agonies of the teenage years, to the death of her father, meeting Jennifer Saunders and the start of her career as a comedian, to her marriage to fellow comedian Lenny Henry, the adoption of their daughter Billy and her wonderful career. You can almost here her speak in this bright, honest and amusing book.If you engoy watching Dawn French you will love this book.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by Scott F Fitzgerald (Books made into movies)
This is a very strange short story written in 56 pages made into a film that runs nearly three hours. Benjamin is born an old man and ages backwards as the story progress. There are lots of issues arising from aging this way especially when he goes to college and he is fifty years old while the other students are seventeen. Years later he is attending a party with his father as they are now the same age, when he meets and falls in love with Hildegarde Moncrief a younger woman and they marry. However as time goes on and Benjamin becomes younger, healthier and happier his wife ceases to attract him. He goes off to fight in the Spanish-American war and when he returns his marrige deteriorates even further. In 1910 he hands his company over to his son and heads off to Harvard, as he now has the appearance of a twenty one year old. By the time he is in his senior year he can not cope with academic work load as he is now sixteen. As time goes on he progess through his early teenage years and he is now looked after by his son who is not happy about the situation as he looks younger than his own grandson. Eventally he loses his memory of his earlier life and becomes a baby than all goes dark.
The book and the film differ greatly as the only thing they have in common is the name and the aging process. I must say I enjoyed both the book and the film.
Fishing for Stars by Bryce Courtenay (Australian)
The story continues on from the Persimmon Tree with the end of World War Two it finds Nick Duncan living on Beautiful Island in the Pacfic. He finds himself caught between his two loves Anna Til who is exploting the riches of the world for profit and the older Marg Hamilton fighting to save the environment. Nick is suffering from post traumatic stress so Marg arranges for him to see a specialist in Sydney. Nick and the specialist don't hit it off and storms out of the office and is hit by a car on the street. When the specialist vists Nick in hospital he encourages him to write about his experinces as a form of therapy. He sets out to write of his love for Anna who he met in his late teens and draws us into his life in the post war days, the building of his shipping company and of the two women who inspire him.
I really enjoy Bryce Courtenay's books for their history content but I found this one a little repeditive of the first book.

Monday, May 18, 2009

the 999 Challenge - May

This month I have been on a bit of a crime binge.
Lady Killer: how conman Bruce Burrell kidnapped and killed rich women for their money by Candance Sutton (Crime). Police conducted one of the biggest manhunts that lasted over ten years, after the disappearance of Kerry Whelan who vanished on her way to a beauticians appointment in Parramatta in 1997. Her husband receives a ransome note the next day demanding a payout of one and half million dollars for Kerry's release. Bruce Burrell a friend of the family and also worked for Bernie Whelan becomes the prime suspect in the case. Burrell turned up at the Whelan house three weeks before Kerry disappeared. It was thought that he intended to kidnap her then but her son was home from school sick. Burrell's property at Bungonia south west of Goulbourn was searched relentlessly by police over a matter of months but no body was ever found. What police did find was any empty chloroform bottle that was recently purchased and notes on the kidnap and ransome plan. Denis Bray the police officer in charge of the case would not give up as he also thought Burrell killed an elderly widow Dorothy Davis two years previously. Dorothy was a close family friend of Burrell's then wife. Burrell had borrowed a large amount of money from Davis and when she asked for the money back she disappeared.
After a hung jury and two trials later Burrell was finally convicted of both murders.
This book was quite an eye opener for me as I did not understand why the police were so hell bent on Burrell as the person of interest. I did not realise there was a suppression order on the evidence so that Burrell could given a fair trial. I really enjoyed the book and felt it was well written by Constance Sutton and Ellen Connolly journalists who followed the case from the start. They painted a sinister picture of a seemingly ordinary man who loved money and didn't want to work for it.
Behind the Night Bazaar by Angela Savage (Crime) Jane Keeney is an Austrlian working as a private detective in Bangkok. After running in to trouble with a case she decideds to take time out and goes to visit her good friend and cosy mystery reader Didier de Montpasse in Chiang Mai. Montpasse is accused of murdering his lover and it is claimed by police that he tried to escape when they were questioning him so they shot him dead. Jane of course does not believe this and sets out to find the truth. The story is dominated by corupt police lieutenant Ratratarn and his men. Angela Savage displays a deep understanding of Thailand, its culture and customs. It was an enjoyable thriller. I picked up this title in the good reading magazine.
Monster by Allan Savage (Crime) In 1984 Josef Fritzl drugged his teenage daughter Elisabeth and imprisoned her in an underground cellar beneath his home for twenty four years. In this time he raped and abused her. She bore him seven children of which one died. Three of the downstairs children as they were known were left on the doorstep upstairs with a note claiming there mother who had supposedly joined a religious sect, had abandoned them and left them for her mother and father to raise. The other three children were left downstairs were the Elisabeth raised them in appalling conditions. When I first heard this story I wondered like everyone else why didn't Elisabeth's mother know what was going on. Fritzl was a very cunning man bordering on genius. Fritzl owned a guesthouse in an other district which his downtrodden wife ran for at least three months of the year along with Elisabeth's siblings. He had started building the cellar long before he abducted his daughter and as he was an engineer he was able to make sure the cellar was well sound proofed. In hindsight neighbours and friends now realise they saw things they should have been reported. As he was aging he was trying to find a way to bring his downstairs family out of the cellar. Before he had a chance to achieve this the eldest daughter downstairs became exremely ill. Elisabeth begged her father to take her to hospital. The rest is history. The ramifications of living underground with no sunlight, poor ventilation and a poor diet has left the downstairs family with many health issues along with the mental issues. It not only affected the downstairs family but also the upstairs family who thought there mother had abandoned them and to find their grandfather was really their father. This story was well written and researched. It will be interesting to see how the family progresses in the future as I'm sure someone will write a continuing story.
Breaking the Spell by Jane Stork (Word of Mouth)
Jane was raised in Western Australia in a loving Catholic family. Jane married at twenty one and had two children by the time she was thirty. It was at this time she was experiencing difficulties in her marriage. Jane and her husband sought the help of a psychologist. The psychologist was involved with the Rajneesh movement led by Baghwan Shree Rajneesh. Jane and her husband become devotees of the Baghwan's teaching. They gave away all their worldly possessions and moved to the Baghwan's ashram in India. Like most cults there was free love and casual relationships which lead to the breakdown of Jane's family unit. The movement decides to move to Oregon in America were the cult constructs a new centre called Rajneeshpuram as the central town and commune. Jane is drawn deeper into the cult by the second in charge Ma Anand Sheelah and all their leadership struggles. Jane is caught up in the attempted murder of the Baghwan's doctor and the plot to kill the US Attorney of Oregon. Jane serves time in jail for her part in the crimes. When released she settles in Germany. Jane starts to find her way back to personal freedom. She finds love again and marries and reconciles with her children who are now living back in Australia. Her family welcome her back with open arms. When everthing seems to be back on track her son develops a brain tumor.
I found this an interesting book into the teachings of the Baghwan 'The Rolls Royce Guru'. This was a very big cult all over the world and at its height during the seventies and eighties. Cults seem to draw in people who are looking for a prop to hold them up and are therefore easy to manipulate. I felt sad for Jane who ended up sacrificing her life, marriage, children and family for so long. There is redemption in the end of the story. Jane was lucky she had a loving family who were there when she finally came to her senses. Maybe there are other members out there that didn't fair as well.
This is another book I found in the Good reading magazine.