Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: April 2023

Birnam Wood (April 2023) – Athenaeum Book Club 2023

By Eleanor Catton

April 18, 2023

Birnam Wood is on the move…

A landside has closed the Korowai Pass in New Zealand’s South Island, cutting off the town of Thorndike and leaving a sizeable farm abandoned.  The disaster presents an opportunity for Birnam Wood, a guerilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice.  But they hadn’t figured on the enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine, who also has an interest in the place.  Can they trust him?  And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other.

A propulsive literary thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character.  It is a brilliantly constructed tale of intentions, actions and consequences, and an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.

I Will Find You (April 2023)

By Harlan Coben

April 18, 2023

David and Cheryl Burroughs are living the dream – married, a beautiful house in the suburbs, a three-year-old son named Matthew – when tragedy strikes in the worst possible way.

David awakes one night to find himself covered in blood, but not his own – his son’s.  And while he knows he did not murder Matthew, the overwhelming evidence against him puts him behind bars indefinitely.

Five years into his imprisonment, Cheryl’s sister arrives – and drops a bombshell.

She shows him a photograph that a friend took on vacation at a theme park.  The boy in the background looks familiar – and even though David realises it can’t be, he knows it is.

It’s Matthew, and he’s still alive.

In order to find Matthew and clear his own name, David knows he must discover the real story of what happened that devastating night.

But first he must attempt the impossible: escape from prison…

Lessons In Chemistry (April 2023)

By Bonnie Garmus

April 18, 2023

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman.  In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960’s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality.  Forced to resign, she reluctantly signs on as the host of a cooking show, Supper at Six.  But her revolutionary approach to cooking, fuelled by scientific and rational commentary, grabs the attention of a nation.  And soon a legion of overlooked housewives find themselves daring to change the status quo.  One molecule at a time.

So Shall You Reap (April 2023)

By Donna Leon

April 18, 2023

The latest instalment from Donna Leon sees Brunetti engaged in a case that forces him to confront his past.

On a cold November evening, Guido Brunetti and Paola are up late when a call from his colleague Ispettore Vianello arrives, alerting the Commissario that a hand has been seen in one of Venice’s canals.  The body is soon found, and Brunetti is assigned to investigate the murder of an undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant.  Curiously, he had been living in a garden house in the grounds of a palazzo owned by a university professor, in which Brunetti discovers books revealing the victim’s interest in Buddhism, the revolutionary Tamil Tigers, and the last crop of Italian political terrorists, active in the 1980’s.

As the investigation expands, Brunetti struggles to assemble random clues about real estate, land use, books and university friendships.  Until he stumbles over something that transports him back to his own student days, causing him to reflect on lost ideals and the errors of youth, on Italian politics and history, and on the accidents that sometimes lead to revelation.

The Dead of Winter (April 2023)

By Stuart MacBride

April 18, 2023

It was supposed to be an easy job.

All Detective Constable Edward Reekie had to do was pick up a dying prisoner from HMP Grampian and deliver him somewhere to live out his last few months in peace.

From the outside, Glenfarach looks like a quaint, sleepy, snow-dusted village, nestled deep in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, but things aren’t what they seem.  The place is thick with security cameras and there’s a strict nine o’clock curfew, because Glenfarach is the final sanctuary for people who’ve served their sentences but can’t be safely released into the general population.

Edward’s new boss, DI Victoria Montgomery-Porter, insists they head back to Aberdeen before the approaching blizzards shut everything down, but when an ex-cop-turned-gangster is discovered tortured to death in his bungalow, someone needs to take charge.

The weather’s closing in, tensions are mounting, and time’s running out.  Something nasty has come to Glenfarach, and Edward is standing right in its way…

Homecoming (April 2023)

By Kate Morton

April 18, 2023

Adelaide Hills: Christmas Eve, 1959:

At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand country house, a local man makes a terrible discovery.  Police are called, and the small town of Tambilla becomes embroiled in one of the most baffling murder investigations in the history of South Australia.

Many years later and thousands of miles away.  Jess is a journalist in search of a story.  Having lived and worked in London for nearly two decades, she now finds herself unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.  A phone call summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and is seriously ill in hospital.

At Nora’s house, Jess discovers a true-crime book chronicling a long-buried police case: The Turner Family Tragedy of 1959.  It is only when Jess skims through its pages that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this notorious event – a murder mystery that has never been satisfactorily resolved.

An epic story that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, how we protect the lies we tell, and what if means to come home.  Above all, it is an intricate and spellbinding novel from one of the finest writers working today.

Someone Else’s Shoes (April 2023)

By Jojo Moyes

April 18, 2023

Meet Sam …

She’s not got much, but she’s grateful for what she has: a job she’s just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything.  She knows she’s one bad day away from losing it all – and just hopes today isn’t it…

Meet Nisha …

She’s got everything she always dreamed of – and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; but … she’s just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings…

Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths.  But after a bag mix up at the gym, their lives become intertwined – even as they spiral out of control.

Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost, and desperately alone.

But they’re not.

No woman is an island.  Look around.  Family.  Friends.  Strangers.  Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend.  Because together you can do anything – like take back what is yours …

P.S. Come to Italy (April 2023)

By Nicky Pellegrino

April 18, 2023

“Come to Italy, come for sunshine, and pasta, and red wine and long walks, come for as long as you like…”

When Belle’s quiet, idyllic life on the coast starts to crumble, it’s a stranger – thousands of miles away in Italy – who provides a shoulder to cry on.  And so, when Enrico sends her a beautiful gift with a note signed off “P.S. Come to Italy!” she decides to follow her heart.

Arriving at Enrico’s palazzo in beautiful Puglia, it’s clear that his life couldn’t be more different than the one Belle’s left behind.  Yet despite his flashy cars and his glamorous, warring family, she starts to realise that perhaps Enrico needs her just as much as she needed him.

Belle’s holiday of a lifetime was never about falling in love – but under the sun-kissed olive trees, anything can happen…

Cold People (April 2023)

By Tom Rob Smith

April 18, 2023

For a moment it was as if the whole sky was full of campfire embers that swirled among seagulls distressed at the commotion but otherwise unharmed.  And then the beaches were empty, the parks were empty, the freeway and pier were empty, the seagulls were calm again and the only people left alive on the planet were those who had reached Antarctica.

The World Has Fallen.

Without warning, a mysterious and omnipotent force has claimed the planet for their own.  There are no negotiations, no demands, no reasons given for their actions.  All they have is a message: humanity has thirty days to reach the one place on Earth where they will be allowed to exist … Antarctica.

Cold People follows the journeys of a handful of those who endure the frantic exodus to the most extreme environment on the planet.  But their goal is not merely to survive the present.  As they cling to life on the ice, the remnants of their past swept away they must also confront the urgent challenge: can they change and evolve rapidly enough to ensure humanity’s future?  Can they build a new society in the sub-zero cold?

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