What’s on next week! Tuesday 10.30am –

What’s on next week!

Tuesday 10.30am – 1,2 Pirate Stew author Kylie Howarth reading and art class at Boya Library
Wednesday 1.00pm Mundaring Library – National Simultaneous Storytime and craft – Same story, same time all over Australia! http://ow.ly/i/uYgTv http://ow.ly/i/uYgX3

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‘After’ by Nikki Gemmell
You will be walked through an experience many Australian families have been struck by, one that is particular to this time of medical miracles and extended life expectancy which, for some, means extended suffering.after ng
Gemmell knew her mother had chronic pain, she was aware that her mother had views about her right to choose death, but she had no idea that the ‘conversation’ was over, until she met two police constables at her gate.
The ensuing period is awash with intense shock, loss and anger; with all exposed because Gemmell’s voice has a public platform and because this kind of death is underscored with all of the cultural stigmas of suicide.
Anyone who has family should read this book. Illness strikes every life at some point and knowing the options might mean the difference between managing the last stages of life, connected with loved ones and at peace with a chosen course; or dying, desperate and alone. The latter has irrevocable consequences for loved ones left behind, who will always regret being unable to support a better choice. http://ow.ly/i/uYfAw

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‘Lucie Aubrac: The French Resistance Heroine who Defied the Gestapo’ by Sian Rees

Rees brings to vivid life the story of Lucie Aubrac and her husband, a couple in the lucy bookFrench Resistance. The story shows how truth can be so much stranger than fiction. From the very beginning of her life, Lucie shows herself to be a fighter, courageous, a woman who cannot be pigeon-holed or labelled. Aubrac says, “Refusal has been a principle all my life”, and  that the idea of “Liberty” was directly linked to the principle of refusal and refusal was linked to disobedience. It seemed inevitable that she would be drawn to “refuse” the invasion of her beloved country, and that her husband, with whom she shared a passionate, enduring love, would also be drawn to the French Resistance.

The book recounts her many exploits, the most famous one being how she brazenly engineered and secured the escape of her husband from Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon”. She organised a second rescue when he was again captured by ambushing the prison van convoy he was being transported in. No less brave, was her husband, Raymond, but her bravery had an element of audacious recklessness and an ability to quash fear that astonishes.

l aubracThe book is also useful for the way it paints the background to the French Resistance, and dispels the myth that it was one united force. The Aubracs both faced scrutiny thirty years after the war when faced with Barbie’s claim that they were informants for the Gestapo.

Sian Rees is not afraid to not only present Lucie Aubrac, the brilliant French Resistance mastermind, but also Lucie’s storytelling about herself and lifelong flirtation with the truth. Rees writes that this flaw is “a flaw rooted not in actions, but in character – the individual, unrepeatable blend of circumstance, childhood, chance and neuropsychology which created the person who became ‘Lucy Aubrac’”.

The book is well-researched, and although packed with historical information, it is written in a lively, articulate way. A life to marvel at, and a book to learn by.


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Hester and Harriet by Hilary Spiers

Hester and Harriet are two elderly widowed sisters who move in together in a comfortable cottage in an English village. Their lives are also comfortable – predictable and safe. The novel HandHopens with them both contemplating the yearly dreaded family Christmas lunch with their well-meaning, but annoying cousins. Which all sounds a bit ho-hum, but their lives are turned upside down when they stop to pick up a young, refugee mother with a baby sitting at a bus stop. Then their cousin’s rebellious fifteen-year old son also arrives on their doorstep seeking sanctuary. It turns out Daria is being hunted by others, and her story is rather more complicated than at first appears. Daria’s story is gradually revealed, and the sisters and their nephew, find themselves in a cat-and-mouse chase to outwit those who are seeking Daria.

This is a cosy English mystery, but is in no way bland or over-sweet, saved by its drama and comedy, wonderful language, and idiosyncratic characters. There are some standout lines delivered by the articulate, intelligent, eccentric Finbar, who also happens to be the village tramp. The sisters are very different to each other, and we learn a little more about them as the novel progresses. The novel touches on some serious issues, enough to raise them without belabouring them.

An enjoyable, funny and charming read. You may find yourself reaching for your dictionary every now and then.


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Monday mini book review by Mundaring School for Seniors

turningMonday mini book review by Mundaring School for Seniors is about ‘The Turning’ by Tim Winton. The book club gave it a 9 out of 10. It’s a book that has been published for a while, but still very popular. Book club members found the writing evocative, descriptive and beautiful. Readers identified with localities described, and loved that the characters and language were very ‘real’. Someone said they learnt a lot about boys growing up! ‘The Turning’ is a book of short stories with a distinct Australian flavour, and has also been made into a film. http://ow.ly/i/tpZLn

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‘Mathilda the Karak’ – her story

Mathilda is a Forest Red-Tailed Parrot currently on display at Boya Library. We have had IMG_5177lots of questions about her, so here is her story:


There are several threatened species of Black-Cockatoo that can be seen around the Perth Hills. One of the reasons they are threatened is the loss of large old trees, with hollows big enough for nesting and raising their chicks.

There are two white tailed species with different shaped beaks.

The Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is called ‘Karak’ in the Noongar language. The name relates to the feather colours and can also sound like a call they make.  Males and females have different coloured beaks and feather patterns.

This Black-Cockatoo was found injured on the side of a road. Local residents Fred and Irene Casotti were taking her to the vet when she died.  After arranging for her preservation, they have named her Mathilda and generously loaned her for library visitors to enjoy in early 2017.

All native animals are protected in Western Australia and authorisation is required from the Department of Parks and Wildlife to have native animals professionally preserved for display.

If you find injured native fauna phone:

Wildcare Helpline – 9474 9055

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’50 Ways to Grieve Your Lover’ by Glennys Marsdon – author talk review

IMG_5180Glennys Marsdon has only ever paid attention to her nails once in her life.  For ninety days her nails were perfectly polished and manicured, the first ninety days after her husband’s death.  Glennys said in her talk last night that this small task was one she could manage perfectly in that traumatic time and so it meant a great deal to her.  She also spoke about a bereaved partner’s private right to communicate (or not) with their lost loved one in any way that belonged between them.  It was described as a deeply personal right that was nobody else’s business.  The beauty of Glenys’s talk is that it was pragmatically rich.  In the first ninety days expect to be dissolute, ninety to 365 days small steps take you somewhere – and she IMG_517950waysdescribed ways to take those steps.

Many in our audience clearly were experiencing or had experienced similar loss and so the appreciation for Glennys Marsdon’s talk ran very deep indeed.  The libraries have purchased copies of her book ’Fifty Ways to Grieve Your Lover’, a gift of her wisdom and experience.



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Poum and Alexandre: A Paris Memoir by Catherine de Saint Phalle

Poum-and-Alexandre-584x878This is an elegant and literary biography retelling the story of the author’s eccentric parents. One slowly begins to understand who Poum and Alexandre are – at first seeming strange, bewildering, and at times unlikeable, but as the story unfolds one tendril at a time, one feels sad at the ultimate tragedy. There is the sadness of a child who did not seem to be parented, but who retells the story of her parents in an almost detached way, bringing them to vivid life as flawed but intense people who experience life differently.

In all of this, Paris is the charming, fabled backdrop to a narrative that seems like a fable itself at times as it replays situations and conversations from the point of view of the child, Catherine de Saint Phalle. There are many conversations around art and literature and history, but a sadness that pervades it all.

The book opens with, “My mother, Marie-Antoinette, likes strange and sad things”, and Catherine fantasizes about taking her mother to a house she has painted and fixed, and “We will live there together, my mother and I, in this secret house where she will be happy at last and talk to me and explain who she truly is”.

“Poum and Alexandre” is a biography with a difference, and recommended, not just for the story but for the way it is told. It will resonate with anyone who has lived with people who walk to a different beat, perhaps because of mental illness, or because of what life has thrown at them.

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‘With Just One Suitcase’ by Cheryl Koenig

This is a marvellous story about two boys, Frici and Istvan, on Jewish and one Catholic, living in withjustonethe same town in Romania when World War 2 breaks out and changes their lives and that of their families forever. The families crossed paths in their town before the war, and miraculously meet each other again in Australia after many years in a way that sees them linked forever.

The story spans three generations, and the writer, daughter of Frici, vividly brings the story to life as she follows her characters chronologically, first one family and then the other, through all the twists and turns. There is humour, but there is much darkness too. Frici’s father says, as war ends, “Even now, the naïve don’t understand that although the war is over, another one has begun”. As Stalin exerts his stranglehold in ever increasing ways on the people of Romania, Frici’s family is forced to escape, but he and his brother are separated from their parents for some years before being reunited in another continent. Istvan from the Koenig family is forced to work for some years in a Russian labour camp, eventually able to make his way with his brother to Australia.

Life in Australia is good for the families, but war and the post-war experiences in Communist Romania have left their marks. This is a triumphant story, one that is ordinary on one level as it has been repeated by so many that have sought refuge on Australia’s shores, but extraordinary because the story of triumph over adversity, of hope against hope, and the striving of life over mere existence is extraordinary.

“With Just One Suitcase” is a great story and provides a view into the experiences of immigrants, an insight into what happened to many Romanians through the war, as well as being the story of a family.



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The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Levin

aj-fikry9 out of 10 for ‘The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry’ by Gabrielle Levin in another Monday mini book review. (Thanks to Mundaring School for Seniors Book Club.) Book Club members loved the character of A.J. Fikry, the subtle humour and the delightful development of the story. The story is about a grumpy book store owner, A.J. Fikry, who is very unhappy with the way life is unfolding for him. The things that once gave him pleasure, such as his books and his bookstore, no longer do. Then a package arrives, and everything begins to change. This is a book with some wonderful quotes; for instance, “We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works”.

A wonderfully refreshing novel about life, about change and transformation, about what we love, and about books. In short, a recommended read!

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