Granny's Good Reads 

Sonia Lee is one of our most treasured customers and a voracious reader.

September 2018

 - Monday, September 03, 2018
The cover of Cynthia Banham’s A Certain Light looks like a page that’s been torn and unevenly mended. In her case the tearing happened when a journalistic assignment in Indonesia was cut short by the plane crash that left her with horrific injuries. The mending took much longer—but thanks to Dr Fiona Wood, a dedicated surgical team, and her own grit and determination, she pulled through, made a new life for herself and even had a son with her devoted husband Michael. It was almost ten years before she could bear to write about her ordeal. What prompted her to start were two boxes of cards. The first contained get-well cards and other items from well-wishers. The second contained information about her mother’s Italian family. She then thought of combining the two stories, as the painful family history seemed to have some relevance to her own ordeal. Accompanied by Michael, their little son, her parents and her wheelchair, she travelled to Trieste to trace the history of her grandfather Alfredo—a slave-labourer for the Germans in the latter part of the Second World War. Her clever mother Loredana had also seen her life torn apart when her family migrated to Australia: only nine at the time, she later had to cut short her education in order to help her parents, so she was understandably determined to see her daughter achieve what she had been denied. Loredana and the rest of the family never left Cynthia while she was in her long coma, and their support was crucial in helping her to decide that life was worth living, even without legs. You won’t be able to put this book down because, despite the confronting details, it is truly inspirational. 

Oh joy, oh rapture, there’s a new Bernie Gunther story Greeks Bearing Gifts. Sadly Bernie’s creator, Philip Kerr, died in March this year—which is all the more reason to enjoy this novel, and it’s a cracker. It’s set in 1957. Lying low after his adventures in Prussian Blue Bernie grows a beard, becomes Christof Ganz and works as a mortuary attendant until he lands a job as claims adjuster with an insurance company. He’s sent to Athens to investigate a claim for a ship that’s sunk. The claimant is found dead, shot through both eyes, and good riddance thinks Bernie—except that the Greek police drag him into the investigation. The claimant turns out to have been implicated in the wartime deportation of the Jews of Salonika. Expect plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Bernie lovers will be pleased to learn that there is one final novel in the pipeline about his early life in the Weimar Republic. 
  
I love Tim Parks. He’s an Englishman who has lived in Italy for the past thirty years, teaches at Milan University, and looks at his adopted country with affection and wry humour. A Season with Verona is all about his favourite team, and though I have never been interested in football I read it with great enjoyment. I also liked Teach Us to Sit Still—in which he tells us about his psychosomatic illness. In Extremis, his latest novel, is a perceptive look at death, family, religion and the male mid-life crisis. 57-year-old Thomas Sanders, a retired professor of linguistics in Madrid, tells us everything he thinks and does in the few days during which he is keynote speaker at two conferences in Amersfoort and Berlin, in between sitting with his dying mother in a hospice and attending her funeral. Sanders is separated from his wife and has a much younger Spanish girlfriend. He also has a psychosomatic illness and telephones his shrink frequently. Though I learned more than I wanted to about anal massage wands, I greatly enjoyed this very funny novel. Sonia