Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty – Athenaeum Book Club 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.


Pearly Gates – Athenaeum Book Club 2019

By Owen Marshall

February 12, 2019

Pat ‘Pearly’ Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements.  He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries.  He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor.  Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes.

But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?

The Year of the Farmer – Athenaeum Book Club 2019

By Rosalie Ham

October 8, 2018

In a quiet town somewhere in country New South Wales, war is brewing.

The last few years have been punishingly dry, especially for the farmers, but otherwise, it’s all Neralie McIntosh’s fault.  Is she’d never left town then her ex, the hapless but extremely eligible Mitchell Bishop, would never have fallen into the clutches of the truly awful Mandy, who now lords it over everyone as if she owns the place.

So, now that Neralie has returned to run the local pub, the whole town is determined to reinstate her to her rightful position in the social order.  But Mandy Bishop has other ideas.  Meanwhile the head of the local water board – Glenys ‘Gravedigger’ Dingle – is looking for a way to line her pockets at the expense of hardworking farmers already up to their eyes in debt.  And Mandy and Neralie’s war may provide just the chance she was looking for…

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax – Athenaeum Book Club 2021

By Andrew Cartmel

August 15, 2018

He is a record collector – a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs.  Some end up on his turntable, some are sold at a handsome profit, and all sound a hell of a lot better than any digital recording.

His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and certain people take this more literally than others.  Like the mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording – on behalf of a wealthy, shadowy and somewhat sinister client.

Given that he’s just about to run out of cat food, this gets our hero’s full attention.  So begins a dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all…

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required