We all know someone who loves nothing more than a good book for Christmas – Mum? Aunty Alice ? Your bookworm bestie? – so we’ve selected 10 of our favourites that we know they’ll love.
With My Body, by Nikki Gemmell. HarperCollins, $29.95.
The long-awaited follow-up to the bestselling phenomenon The Bride Stripped Bare, this is the bride a decade later. She is now ‘the wife stripped bare’. With My Body is an intensely personal tale of sexual awakening as well as one wife’s story about every woman’s marriage. Locked into an unending cycle of school runs, laundry and meal times, a wife despairs of ever finding a way through her family to her own identity. Even her husband, whom she loves, has never reached the core of her. In desperation, she flees her comfortable life to revisit an old love affair — an extremely passionate, transforming one. The consequences will be devastating, liberating and entirely unexpected…
Told in Nikki Gemmell’s distinctively lyrical style, this is beautiful, literary writing at its best. Exquisitely raw, emotional and bold, it is deeply resonant of the classic French erotic writings of Colette, Anaïs Nin and Marguerite Duras, but with a modern and provocative twist.
The Next Always, by Nora Roberts. Piatkus, $29.99.
The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen. After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look…at the building and the man behind it.
The Freudian Slip, by Marion von Adlerstein. Hodder, $32.99.
Early sixties in Sydney. At the advertising agency Bofinger Adams Rawson & Keane, two talented women hold important creative roles. One, Bea, is a copywriter. The other, Desi, is a television producer. Because they are successful in their work and rewarded by it, few of their colleagues know how adept they are at mismanaging their private lives. Anxious to join this starred twosome is a young secretary named Stella, who embodies all the qualities for success — ambition, dedication, energy, efficiency — except creative talent. In its absence she relies on stealth, flattery and plagiarism, to walk, in her Jane Debster toe-peepers, all over the others in realising her ambition. She succeeds. At least, for a while…
Tiger Men, by Judy Nunn. Random House, $32.95.
‘This town is full of tiger men,’ Dan said. ‘Just look around you. The merchants, the builders, the bankers, the company men, they’re all out for what they can get. This is a tiger town, Mick, a place at the bottom of the world where God turns a blind eye to pillage and plunder.’ Van Diemen’s Land was an island of stark contrasts; a harsh penal colony, an English idyll for its landed gentry, and an island so rich in natural resources it was a profiteer’s paradise.
Its capital Hobart Town had its contrasts too; the wealthy elite in their sandstone mansions, the exploited poor in the notorious slum known as Wapping, and the criminals and villains who haunted the dockside taverns and brothels of Sullivan’s Cove. Hobart Town was no place for the meek. Tiger Men is the story of Silas Stanford, a wealthy Englishman; Mick O’Callaghan an Irishman on the run; and Jefferson Powell, an idealistic American political prisoner. It is also the story of the strong, proud women who loved them, and of the children they bore who rose to power in the cut-throat world of international trade. Tiger Men is the sweeping tale of three families who lived through Tasmania’s golden era and witnessed the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia, only to watch its young men consumed by the fires and horror of the First World War.
The Best of Me, by Nicholas Sparks. Sphere, $32.99.
“Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She’d believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen.” In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.
Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew — about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear — was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?
Women’s Stuff, by Kaz Cooke. Penguin, $59.99.
Whether you’re starting or ending a relationship, a friend has found a lump in her breast, you’re in debt, your partner’s lost interest in sex or you don’t know whether to believe the moisturiser label, Women’s Stuff is your must-have guide, from leaving school to menopause and beyond. It’s a best friend in book form, a complete guide to how to get your life together and face any challenge at any age. It’s also the ultimate fib detector – Kaz has sifted the facts and tested the claims, exposing the lies women are told about cosmetics, other products and their health, and explaining which info you can trust and how to find the truth about everything. It covers the practical side of life, including work, money and homemaking, as well as getting to know and make friends with your body, family, mental and physical health, and sex and relationships.
Three years in preparation, this guide book to making the most of yourself and your life includes the quotes and comments of more than 7000 women from all over the world, sharing their innermost thoughts on everything from sex to housework, drinking problems and hopes for the future. Providing info at your fingertips, if and when you need it, whichever stage your life is at, Women’s Stuff will save you money and make you happier.
Hazel – My Mothers Story, by Sue Pieters- Hawke. Macmillan Australia, $49.99.
Hazel Hawke is one of our most loved and respected Australians. As the wife of a prime minister she brought a down-to-earth warmth to Canberra that influenced everyone she came into contact with. Whether it was working to improve life for the disadvantaged, supporting the arts community or passionately advocating her belief in equality and social inclusion, we all felt her energy, her practicality and her immense capacity for humour and enjoyment.
From the age of eighteen Bob Hawke was the love of her life, yet their journey from youthful idealism to the political realities of Canberra was at times far from easy. The very strengths that made Hawke one of Australia’s longest-serving and most successful leaders – his passion and commitment, his gregariousness and his drive – created their own tensions and issues within the family. After leaving the Lodge, their marriage famously fell apart.
But Hazel’s life was undiminished, as she continued to build her role as an advocate for tolerance and fairness in the broader community and as a mother and a grandmother within her own family. Public love and support for Hazel reached a new peak eight years ago when she publicly announced she’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This intimate, beautiful biography of an extraordinary woman is written by Hazel’s eldest daughter, Sue Pieters-Hawke. Candid, revealing and fascinating it explores Hazel’s life as she navigated personal challenges and profound social changes, and celebrates her value as a mother, wife, role model and tireless worker for the rights and welfare of others.
Lola’s Secret, by Monica McInerney. Penguin Australia, $29.95.
Magic can happen in every family. At the Valley View Motel in South Australia’s picturesque Clare Valley, eighty-four-year-old Lola Quinlan is up to her usual mischief. She’s sent her family away for Christmas and invited a number of mystery guests to come and stay. But who are all these people, and why aren’t they spending the festive season with their own loved ones?
As the big day draws closer and Lola’s personal family dramas threaten to unravel her plans, she discovers that at a special time of year, magic can happen in every family – especially your own. From the bestselling author of At Home with the Templetons comes a funny, sad and moving novel about memories and moments and the very meaning of life.
Explosive Eighteen, by Janet Evanovich. Headline, $22.99.
The exciting new instalment in the adventures of Stephanie Plum – it’s gonna be dynamite!
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is used to danger and adventure; they follow her at every turn. But when international murder hits dangerously close to home, this could be more explosive than exciting… Once Stephanie steps on the plane from Hawaii to Newark, she hopes to put her hellish holiday behind her. But when her seatmate mysteriously disappears during the stopover in LA – to be found later in a garbage can – things are only going to get worse. Only one other person has seen the missing photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying – and it just so happens to be Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t want to end up in a garbage can…
More to the point, she still has to deal with the fallout from Hawaii. Both the men in her life refuse to talk about it and all Stephanie will say is… It’s complicated.
The Opal Desert, by Di Morrissey. Macmillan Australia, $32.95.
The Opal Desert is the story of three women from different generations with unresolved issues in their lives who meet in the fictitious NSW town of Opal Lake. Kerrie, in her 40s, has just lost her famous sculptor husband who had been the centre of her existence and for whom she made many sacrifices and she now finds her life has lost direction. Shirley, approaching 80, was betrayed by her lover many years before and has retreated from the world, becoming a recluse living in an underground dugout. Anna, 19, has a promising athletic career but is torn between the commitment to her sport which could carry her to the Olympics, or enjoying life like other young people.
The friendship that develops between these three women, who meet in the strangely beautiful but desolate landscape of the opal fields, helps them resolve and come to terms with the next stage of their lives.
Which books are on your Christmas wish list?