I can't remember if I have mentioned before that until my local Harry Hartog launched their brand new book club in April I had never been a part of a book club where everyone reads the same book at the same time (although I do attempt a regular 'buddy read' with a dear, and very patient, friend of mine, I am the worst at actually getting the book read in the right month - see also my success rate with my month TBR stacks haha). In any case, I am enjoying the Harry Hartog book club so much! We have had about 12 people at each meeting so far, and our host Claire does an amazing job of keeping the conversation going in a way that seems to make every single person feel comfortable speaking up. I feel like the discussions we've had at the meetings have added to my enjoyment of each one of the books we have read so far.
This month we read the 2018 Australian/Vogel's Literary Award winning novel The Yellow House by Emily O'Grady.
I'm not really sure what to say about this one, so let's start with the summary from the Allen and Unwin website:
Ten-year-old Cub lives with her parents, older brother Cassie, and twin brother Wally on a lonely property bordering an abandoned cattle farm and knackery. Their lives are shadowed by the infamous actions of her Granddad Les in his yellow weatherboard house, just over the fence.
Although Les died twelve years ago, his notoriety has grown in Cub’s lifetime and the local community have ostracised the whole family.
When Cub’s estranged aunt Helena and cousin Tilly move next door into the yellow house, the secrets the family want to keep buried begin to bubble to the surface. And having been kept in the dark about her grandfather’s crimes, Cub is now forced to come to terms with her family’s murky history.
The Yellow House is a powerful novel about loyalty and betrayal; about the legacies of violence and the possibilities of redemption.
This was not the kind of book that you really 'enjoy' reading - it is honestly pretty grim - but the writing was absolute perfection. This book made me feel uncomfortable all the way from the haunting prologue - I really felt like I was spying on something very private. The way the story is told through Cub's innocent (mostly) point of view means that the reader is sometimes left to draw their own conclusions based on her observations, and somehow this works to make the book even creepier.
It is always hard to give a rating to a book like this, given that it isn't necessarily a pleasant experience reading it, but I settled on four stars for this. Like I said above, the writing was just perfect, and whatever Emily O'Grady does next will be an automatic buy for me.
We also had a few book club bonuses this month - publishers Allen and Unwin had kindly sent signed bookplates for us to put in our books, and provided a couple of copies of another of their new releases - Bluebottle - which were given away as kind of a lucky door prize.
Next month we're switching to something that I am promised is a bit lighter and more cheerful than our past two reads - The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus.
***The Yellow House***
Genre: Contemporary/Literary fiction (adult)
Triggers: There are loads - I'd recommend finding out more if there is something specific you want to avoid
Source: The team at Harry Hartog Woden actually gave me this one for my birthday in April (yes, they are the best!)
Find out more about the book, and check out the first few chapters here