Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: April 2019

Port Adventure (April 2019)

By Rosalie Ambrogio

April 17, 2019

Concerned about an elderly woman in an upstairs window, the ever-critical Giselle heads to the police station, where the fabulously good-looking Zoltan Baker looks into the matter.

Soon afterwards, Giselle leaves Dunedin for what she assumes will be a quiet work trip to the beautiful Stewart Island, hoping to hear the songs of the tui and walk through the stunning native bush.

But Senior Sergeant Baker’s on the island too, and he’s not there for pleasure…

A Ladder to the Sky (April 2019)

By John Boyne

April 17, 2019

If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere.  They don’t even have to be your own.  Or so would-be-writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career.

A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackerman gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him.  For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell.  Whether or not he should is another matter.

Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories.  He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top.  Stories will make him famous, but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal.  They may even make him do worse.

A dark and twisted psychological drama, A Ladder to the Sky shows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (April 2019) Athenaeum Book Club pick 2019

By Jennifer Chiaverini

April 17, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2019

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini’s compelling historical novel unveils the private lives of Abraham and Mary Lincoln through the perspective of the First Lady’s most trusted confidante and friend her dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley.

In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave.  A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion.  A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trails of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.

Run Away (April 2019)

By Harlan Coben

April 17, 2019

You’ve lost your daughter.

And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park.  But she’s not the girl you remember.  This woman is living on the edge, frightened clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think.  You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do.  You follow her into a dark and dangerous world where nothing and nowhere is safe…

Hippie (April 2019)

By Paulo Coelho

April 17, 2019

A journey to the past.  A map for the future.

Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, bestselling author Paulo Coelho relives the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and challenged the established social order.

In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, a skinny Brazilian with a goatee, learning about himself by exploring the world.

Travelling on the ‘Death Train to Bolivia’, on to Peru, Paulo hitchhikes through Chile and Argentina and into Amsterdam.  In the famous Dam Square he meets Karla, a young Dutch woman in her twenties who has been waiting to find the ideal companion to accompany her on the fabled hippie trail to Nepal.  Together with their fellow travellers, they embark on a trip aboard the Magic Bus, heading across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu.

For everyone, the journey is transformative.  For Paulo and Karla it is a life-defining love story that leads to choices that will set the course of the rest of their lives.

The Life of De’Ath (April 2019) Athenaeum Book Club pick 2019

By Majella Cullinane

April 17, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2019

In this accomplished debut novel, the mysterious narrator recounts Theodore De’Ath’s life before and during the Great War.  After a family tragedy, Theodore moves to Otago to live with his grandparents.  Influenced by his scholarly grandfather he becomes fascinated by the Underworld, reading the Inferno, Paradise Lost and Faust.  When war breaks out in Europe, unlike his peers, Theodore is not swept up with the fervor to enlist, but when conscription comes in 1916 he is obliged to join the New Zealand Division in France.

Theodore, a shy man, is more an observer of life than participant.  Although expert on Hell in literature, it is not until confronted with the reality of war that he understands its true meaning.  Soon he has to survive as a deserter, risking court martial and a death sentence.

The Life of De’Ath draws on historical events: New Zealand military involvement at the Western front, anti-German sentiment here during World War I, and the New Zealand soldiers who were shot for desertion between 1916 and 1918.  At its heart, though, is the story of a young man going against the tide of social and family pressure, and struggling to express his feelings for Elizabeth Paterson before it’s too late.

Identity Crisis (April 2019) – Athenaeum Book Club 2020

By Ben Elton

April 17, 2019

Athenaeum Book Club selection 2020

Why are we all so hostile?  So quick to take offence?  Truly we are living in the age of outrage.

A series of apparently random murders draws amiable, old-school detective Mick Matlock into a world of sex, politics and reality TV – and a bewildering kaleidoscope of opposing identity groups.  Lost in a blizzard of hashtags, his already complex investigation is further impeded by the fact that he simply doesn’t ‘get’ a single thing about anything any more.

Meanwhile, each day another public figure confesses to having ‘misspoken’ and prostrates themselves before the judgement of Twitter.  Begging for forgiveness, assuring the public ‘That is not who I am.’

But if nobody is who they are any more – then who the F##K are we?

Ben Elton returns with a blistering satire of the world as it fractures around us.  Get ready for a roller-coaster thriller, where nothing – and no one – is off limits.

Rebel of the Sands (April 2019)

By Alwyn Hamilton

April 17, 2019

Tell me how you want your story to go, he says, and we’ll write it straight across the sand.

Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town.  It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female.  And yet Amani Al Hiza must call it ‘home’,

Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.

But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic.  The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion…

An Unwanted Guest (April 2019)

By Shari Lapena

April 17, 2019

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere.  They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging outside the hotel, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world.  Nobody can get in – or out.  And then the first body is found…and the horrifying truth comes to light.  There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape.  Trapped.

The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty (April 2019) Athenaeum Book Club pick 2019

By Marsha Mehran

April 17, 2019

Set in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War.  The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty is the story of a group of displaced Iranian refugees living in a multi-level Beaux Arts building in the city centre.

The inhabitants of the building form an eclectic community: a poetry-loving ex-prisoner and his daughter, a promising medical student; a visionary beautician; a newlywed couple with a dark past; a young revolutionary; an eccentric pilgrim of Mecca; and at the heart of the group Zadi Heirati, a single mother struggling to make ends meet at the beauty salon she operates from her apartment.

Drawn together by a revolution in their homeland, they find solace in weekly poetry meetings.  The words they share inspire each to turn inward and discover beauty long buried.

As a new war unfolds in their adopted country, this group of disenchanted individuals begins to form a family.  At once familiar and extraordinary, this moving story weaves disparate lives together into a tapestry of unique grace, wit and lyricism.


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