Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: May 2016

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047

By Lionel Shriver

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

It is 2029.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizeable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies.  Yet America’s soaring national debt has grown so enormous that it can never be repaid.  Under siege from an upstart international currency, the dollar is in meltdown.  A bloodless world war will wipe out the savings of millions of American families.

Their inheritance turned to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also – as the effects of the downturn start to hit – the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister Florence is forced to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household.  As their father Carter fumes at having to care for his demented stepmother now that a nursing home is too expensive, his sister Nollie, an expat author, returns from abroad at 73 to a country that’s unrecognizable.

Perhaps only Florence’s oddball teenage son Willing, an economics autodidact, can save this formerly august American family from the streets.

This is not science fiction.  This is a frightening, fascinating, scabrously funny glimpse into the decline that may await the United States all too soon, from the pen of perhaps the most consistently perceptive and topical author of our times.

The Death of an Owl

By Paul Torday with Piers Torday

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

Andrew Landford is driving home one night along a dark country lane, when a barn owl flies into his windscreen.  It is an accident, nothing more.  However, Andrew is in line to be the country’s next prime minister.  And he has recently been appointed to a parliametary committee concerned with the Wildlife and Countryside Act.  Barn owls are a protected species, and it is a crime to kill one.  If Andrew acknowledges that he has killed the owl, he could be risking his political career.

With Andrew in the car is his old Oxford friend and political adviser, Charles Fryerne.  An expert in communications, Charles has just joined the team that is masterminding Andrew’s route to the Tory Party leadership, and from there to No. 10 Downing Street.  He has spent many years quietly building up a very successful career as a strategist.

But the death of the owl threatens to destroy not onlly Andrew’s career, but everything that Charles has worked for too.  Should they come clean, or hide the story and hope it goes away?

Twister

By Jane Woodham

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

Dunedin, in thegrip of an unseasonal flu, is a city under siege.  Then after five damaging days of rain, a twister rips through, exposing the body of a missing schoolgirl in Ross Creek.

Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is the only one who can lead the investigation, depite unresolved sorrow over the disappearance of his own daughter nine years earleir.

Sultry weather broods over the beleaguered city as suspects are sifted and pressure mounts for Judd to solve the crime.  Meanwhile his wife, Kate, tries to find the courage she needs to tell him the secrets she’s been nursing for too long – including one about the disappearance of their belived Beth.

The Twelve

By Justin Cronin

May 1, 2016

The Twelve

Death Row prisoners with nightmare pasts and no future.

The Twelve

Until they were selected for a secret experiment.

The Twelve

To create something more than human.

The Twelve

Now they are the future – unless a handful of survivors can destroy them.

The Twelve

‘The follow-up to the much-lauded The Passage deepens and darkens the apocalyptic events of the first book’  – Belfast Telegraph

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

By Jonas Jonasson

May 1, 2016

It’s never too late to start again. And again.

It’s always awkward when five thousand krononr goes missing.  When it happens at a certain grotty hotel in south Stockholm, it’s particularly awkward because the money belongs to the hitman currently staying in room seven.  Per Persson, the hotel receptionist, just wants to mind his own business, and preferably not get murdered.  Johanna Kjellander, temporarily resident in room eight, is a priest without a vocation, and, as of last week, without a parish.  But right now she has two things at her disposal: an envelope containing five fhousand kronor, and an excellent idea…

Featuring one violent killer, two shrewd business brains and many crates of Moldovan red wine.  Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is an outrageously zany story with as many laughs as Jonasson’s multimillion-copy bestseller The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

Go Set A Watchman

By Harper Lee

May 1, 2016

Maycomb, Alabama.  Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus.  Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her.  Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.  Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill A Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set A Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee.  Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humour and effortless precision – a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times.  It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill A Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to a classic.

The Lubetkin Legacy

By Marina Lewycka

May 1, 2016

‘Don’t let them get the flat!’these are Lily Lukashenko’s dying words to her son.

North London in the twenty-first century: a place where a son will swiftly adopt an old lady and take her home to impersonate his dear, departed mother, rather than lose the council flat.

A time of golden job opportunities, though you might have to dress up as a coffee bean or intern at an undertaker’s or put up with champagne and posh French dinners while your boss hits on you.

A place rich in language – whether it’s Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Swahili or buxom housing officers talking managementese.

A place where husbands go absent without leave and councillors sacrifice cherry orchards at the altar of new builds.

Marina Lewycka tells a new, funny, brilliant story of life, love, death and the perils of not being George Clooney in the modern world.

Beside Myself

By Ann Morgan

May 1, 2016

It was just a game.  It wasn’t meant to be my life.

Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn’t true, though; Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begina a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up.

Under Italian Skies

By Nicky Pellegrino

May 1, 2016

Athenaeum Book Club pick for 2017

‘It was a curious sort of feeling, being so cherished by a stranger..’

Stella has life under control – and that’s the way she likes it.  For twenty-five years, she’s been trusted assistant to a legendary fashion designer, but after her boss dies suddenly, she’s left with nothing to do but clear the studio.

It seems as though the life she wanted has vanished – until one day she finds a house swap website and sees a beautiful, old villa in a southern Italian village.  Could she really exchange her pokey London flat for that?

What was intended as just a break becomes much more and Stella finds herself trying on a stranger’s life.  As the villa begins to get under her skin, she can’t help but imagine the owner from the clues around her.  She meets his friends, cooks the food he recommends and follows suggestions to visit his favourite places.  But can an idea of someone ever match up to the reality?

As Stella wonders if she can let go of the safety of her past, perhaps there’s a chance for her to find a way into her future…

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