Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: December 2019

Lady in Waiting (December 2019)

By Anne Glenconner

December 18, 2019

A Maid of Honour at the Queen’s coronation as well as Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, Anne Glenconner has spent her life as a friend of the royal family.

Now she looks back at her extraordinary life – filled with glamour, drama as well as tragedy.

The eldest child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, she knew as a daughter she would not inherit the vast ancestral Holkham Hall or the family fortune.  Bred and brought up to secure an eligible husband, she was to fall for the charismatic Colin Tennant (later Lord Glenconner), who would go on to buy Mustique in the Caribbean, turning it into the world’s most exclusive private island.  The parties and guest were legendary, but the marriage was to prove a test of every strength Anne possessed.

On Mustique Anne’s friendship with Princess Margaret, which began in childhood, grew ever closer.  Becoming her lady in waiting, she could escape her difficult marriage to travel the world on diplomatic missions – from Australia to America, Canada and Africa.

Tragedy engulfed Anne when she lost two of her grown-up sons, and nursed her third son out of a coma after a motorbike accident.

Lord Glencommer died in 2010, leaving his entire fortune to a former employee.  It was the last sting in his tail, yet Anne has gone on to enjoy the freedom it’s given her, finally out of the shadow of the crown and her husband, and with the resilience and humour that defines her, reminding us that all that glitters is not gold.


West Island (December 2019)

By Stephanie Johnson

December 18, 2019

Five notable twentieth-century New Zealanders who made their lives in Australia are the subject of this fascinating biographical investigation by award-winning author Stephanie Johnson.

Roland Wakelin, Jean Devanny, Douglas Steward, Eric Baume and Dulcie Deamer had little in common in personality, proclivities or politics.  Yet they all experienced fame and/or notoriety in the ‘West Island’ while being largely forgotten in their country of origin.  They also occasionally crossed paths in the course of eventful lives.

The works of painter Roland Wakelin place him as a founder of Australia’s Modern Movement.  The forthright feminism and creative integrity of communist and novelist Jean Devanny led to bitter battles with the men who tried to control her.  Douglas Steward was one of the most famous ‘Australian’ writers of his period and a long term gatekeeper for Australian letters.  Born into an unusual and unorthodox Jewish family, Eric Baume gained prominence in Australia as an early prototype of the modern-day ‘shock jock’.  A lifelong gambling addict, he died in debt.  Dulcie Deamer was a writer and libertine known for her leopardskin attire and wild behavior.

Stephanie Johnson, a writer with strong connections to both countries, draws on her experience of life on both sides of ‘the ditch’ in restoring these striking New Zealanders to our national narrative.  In so doing, she reflects on the trans-Tasman diaspora and illuminates the curious lacuna that exists at the heart of the complex relationship between the two nations.

Bowlaway (December 2019)

By Elizabeth McCracken

December 18, 2019

From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century – nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin and fifteen pounds of gold in her person – Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts.  She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her.  But Bertha is plucky, tenacious and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark – with Bertha its most notable resident.  She changes the town forever: her singular spirit resonating powerfully through every board and brick and bone.

The Dangerous Kind (December 2019)

By Deborah O'Connor

December 18, 2019

One in 100 of us is what the police call a potentially dangerous person, someone likely to commit a violent crime.  These people can be teachers, doctors, politicians, who hold positions of trust.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the one in 100, on a radio show that examines brutal crimes, asking if more could have been done to prevent their perpetrators.

When she investigates the disappearance of a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that leads to the upper echelons of power and threatens her own family.

Lies Lies Lies (December 2019)

By Adele Parks

December 18, 2019

Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place.  A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes  – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam.  Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control.  And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

Westwind (December 2019)

By Ian Rankin

December 18, 2019

It always starts with a small lie.  That’s how you stop noticing the bigger ones.

After his friend suspects something strange going on at the launch facility where they both work – and then goes missing – Martin Hepton doesn’t believe the official line of “long-term sick leave”…

Refusing to stop asking questions, he leaves his old life behind, aware that someone is shadowing his every move.

The only hope he has is his ex-girlfriend Jill Watson – the only journalist who will believe his story.

But neither of them can believe the puzzle they’re piecing together – or just how shocking the secret is that everybody wants to stay hidden …

Chances Are (December 2019)

By Richard Russo

December 18, 2019

One beautiful September day, three sixty-six-year-old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college in the 1960’s.  They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today – Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher and Mickey an aging musician.  But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since 1971: the disappearance of their friend Jacy.  Now, decades later, the distant past interrupts the present as the truth about what happened to Jacy finally emerges, forcing the men to reconsider everything they thought they knew about each other.

A Mistake (December 2019)

By Carl Shuker

December 18, 2019

Elizabeth Taylor is a surgeon at a city hospital, a gifted, driven woman excelling in a male-dominated culture.

One day, while operating on a young woman in a critical condition, something goes gravely wrong.

A Mistake is a compelling story of human fallibility, and the dangerous hunger for black and white answers in a world of exponential complication and nuance.

The Strangers We Know (November 2019)

By Pip Drysdale

December 3, 2019

Imagine seeing your loving husband on a dating app.

Now imagine that’s the best thing that happens to you all week…

When Charlie sees a man who is the spitting image of her husband Oliver on a dating app, her heart stops.  Her first desperate instinct is to tell herself she must be mistaken – after all, she only caught a glimpse from a distance as her friends laughingly swiped through the men on offer.  But no matter how much she tries to push her fears aside, she can’t let it go.  Because she took that photo.  On their honeymoon.

Suddenly other signs of betrayal start to add up and so Charlie does the only thing she can think of to defend her position – she signs up to the app to catch Oliver in the act.

But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems.  Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who she thinks they are …

You Don’t Know Me (November 2019)

By Sara Foster

December 3, 2019

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her.  She was his first crush, his unrequited love.  She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade.  He left soon after Lizzie disappeared under a darkening cloud of suspicion, and now he’s back for the inquest into Lizzie’s death – intent on telling his side of the story.

As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce on holiday.  They fall for each other fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears.  And Alice is equally stricken because she carries a terrible secret of her own.

Is the truth worth telling if it will destroy everything?

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