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by Christian White
Longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards 2020
The Wife and the Widow is a mystery/thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside down when she’s forced to confront the evidence that her husband is a murderer. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.
By Ann Cleeves
At the isolated Baikie's Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together. Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal . . .
For team leader Rachael the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of her own secrets to hide . . . When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.
By Jodi Picoult
'I don't want that nurse touching my baby.' Those are the instructions from the newborn child's parents. However, when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth, a nurse of twenty years' experience, sees no option but to assist. But the baby dies. And Ruth is charged with negligent homicide.
Ruth is shattered and bewildered as she tries to come to terms with her situation. She finds different kinds of support from her sister, a fiery radical, and her teenage son, but it is to Kennedy McQuarrie, a white middle-class lawyer, to whom she entrusts her case, and her future.
As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other's lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear. For the privileged to prosper, they come to realise, others have to suffer. Racism takes many forms and is reinforced by the structures of our society.
By Emily Bitto
On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work at their family home. Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.
As the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect the same themes as their art: Faustian bargains and spectacular falls from grace. Yet it’s not Evan, but his own daughters, who pay the price for his radicalism.
by Petronella McGovern
How can a child disappear from under the care of five playgroup mums?
Lexie and her husband, Marty, have moved to Merrigang, a small village on the edge of Canberra, with their three-year old daughter, Bella, to start a new life.
One Thursday morning, Lexie pops out to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella with the playgroup mums.
Six minutes later, Bella is gone.
As police investigate, online hate messages target Lexie and Marty, relationships fracture, and the community is engulfed by fear. What are the parents hiding? Why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge-room? And how are the angry protests at Parliament House connected?
What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?
The clock is ticking...
This gripping novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.
by Alex Miller
Read by Lewis Fitz-Gerald
Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom – a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever.
John is like no-one Sabiha has met before – his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage – a marriage of two cultures lived in a third – and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.
Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose – questions have no simple answer.
Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.
By Diane Chamberlain
Read by Susan Bennett
Big Lies in a Small Town, by the internationally bestselling author Diane Chamberlain, is a sweeping novel about two women connected by a painting that holds many dark secrets.
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Centre. Her dream of a career in the arts is put on hold – until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration but, desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors and where the price for being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
By Kate Grenville
Read by Nicholas Bell
In 1787 Lieutenant Daniel Rooke sets sail from Portsmouth with the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts, destined for New South Wales. As a young officer and a man of science, the shy and quiet Rooke is full of anticipation about the natural wonders he might discover in this strange land on the other side of the world. After the fleet arrives in Port Jackson, Rooke sets up camp on a rocky and isolated point, and starts his work of astronomy and navigation. It's not too long before some of the Aboriginal people who live around the harbour pay him a visit. One of them, a girl named Tagaran, starts to teach him her own language. But her lessons and their friendship are interrupted when Rooke is given an order that will change his life forever.
Inspired by the 1790 notebooks of William Dawes in which he recorded his conversations with a young Gadigal woman, The Lieutenant is a story about a man discovering his true self in extraordinary circumstances.
Read by Rosie Jones
The lives of teenage twins Maisy and Duncan change for ever the night their sick mother is taken to an asylum. Sent to live in the New Forest with their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham, they feel unloved and abandoned.
At least they have each other.
But one day Duncan doesn’t come home from exploring in the forest and no one – least of all his grandmother – appears to care about his disappearance. The police, who’ve found the bodies of other missing boys, offer little hope of finding Duncan alive.
Yet Maisy refuses to give up. Though she doesn’t know the woods well, she knows someone who does. The strange old woman who lives at their heart.
Dare Maisy enlist the help of the woman in the wood?
By Natalie Haynes
Read by Natalie Haynes
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. . .
In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .
The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. . .
Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.