BOOK REVIEWS: Great reads to kick off autumn
We review a selection of tought-provoking new releases for adults, young adults and children
THE ATLAS OF BEAUTY: WOMEN OF THE WORLD IN 500 PORTRAITS
by Mihaela Noroc
SINCE 2013, Mihaela Noroc has travelled the world with her backpack and camera, taking photos of everyday women in over city countries - from the Amazon rainforest to Indian markets to the busy streets of London and the parks of Harlem.
This book captures a rare insight into the daily experiences of women, portraying them in their home environments and giving insight into the obstacles they face and the dreams that drive them forward.
Above all, it celebrates the diversity yet shared humanity of women, showing that beauty is everywhere and is not related to money, race or social status.
It's a beautiful coffee table book and keepsake.
THE HANDMAID'S TALE
by Margaret Atwood
ALTHOUGH this book was originally published in 1986, it's had a resurgence with the popular Netflix series.
Told with simplistic prose and stark attention to detail, Margaret Atwood describes life in the not too distant future where the United States has been transformed through a military coup into a totalitarian theocracy.
The dystopian horror is made all the more chillingly realistic by intertwining the world we know now and the world that could be, as the protagonist, Offred, remembers the time before the change.
Brilliant, endearing and incredibly terrifying, some have surmised that the themes of "The Handmaid's Tale" are even more poignant today than when the book was released over thirty years ago.
This is an important book, one that is often on the school syllabus, and a good read for International Women's Day.
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ
by Heather Morris
THIS is the compelling story of the tattooist from the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the woman he loved.
Lale Sokolov is a charming, well-dressed, ladies' man.
He is also Jewish and on the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, he immediately gains the attention of other prisoners.
Once in the camp, he is looked up to and is given the position of "Tatowierer" - the tattooist to mark his fellow prisoners forever.
One of these prisoners is Gita, a young woman who steals Lale's heart at first glance.
Being in love gives Lale a new purpose in life and through the horrendous suffering of the camp, he tries to use his position for good.
Heather Morris spent years interviewing Lale Sokolov and the result is a tale of beauty and hope, set against the heart-wrenching horrors of the Holocaust. It's a book that will stay with you for a long time after you've finished reading.
THE RULES OF BACKYARD CROQUET
by Sunni Overend
APPLE March is a disgraced fashion prodigy who has withdrawn to the anonymity of a formerly grand fashion boutique.
Her only concerns now are dealing with difficult customers and correctly hanging silk and cashmere garments.
Where her sister Poppy needs a wedding dress, Apple's old passion for fashion design is reignited, along with threats from her past.
Her quest to reestablish herself becomes entangled with a time she wants her forgotten.
At the same time, she falls for someone she shouldn't and her life starts unravelling just as quickly as it had begun to mend.
Moving between Melbourne, Paris and New York and set in the world of croquet, Campari, love, lust and fame, this is a fun and engaging read.
Sunni Overend writes in a way that brings her characters to life and we become invested in Apple's desire to overcome her past and become the person she was born to be.
It's a light and heart-warming book that will appeal to a wide age group.
THE COURT REPORTER
by Jamelle Wells
AS A seasoned court reporter, the ABC's Jamelle Wells has filed thousands of stories on murderers, sex offenders, thieves, family feuds and bad business deals.
From the calculated and cruel, to the unfair and unlucky, to the dangerous and plain stupid, Jamelle has seen it all.
She has witnessed many of Australia's most notorious high-profile court cases.
At times, she has been chased, spat upon, stalked and has found herself sitting next to criminals or victims and their families.
Every day in courts across the country, evidence and theories are debated in a kind of theatre, involving casts of characters, costumes and often strange traditions.
The judges, lawyers and barristers, victims and witnesses all have their roles play in a quest for justice, fairness and the truth.
Central to all of this is the tragedy that plays out in the lives of ordinary people - disrupted, altered and often destroyed.
This tough and fearless journalist's memoir makes riveting reading.
CAROLINE CHISHOLM: AN IRRESISTABLE FORCE
by Sarah Goldman
AS WELL as being a charming and determined woman, Caroline Chisholm was a force in shaping colonial Australia.
Arriving in New South Wales in 1838, she was horrified by the plight of the colony's young female immigrants.
Due to lack of work and accommodation, many were forced into prostitution.
In response, Caroline took it upon herself to meet incoming ships at the wharves where she offered advice to young women and even sheltered some of them in her home.
When the government of the day declined any assistance, Caroline set up a home for the girls and aimed to find them work, essentially beginning the colony's first employment office.
She helped set minimum wages, was instrumental in establishing work contracts, and founded dozens of employment agencies in rural centres.
A committed social activist and an iconic feminist, Caroline Chisholm helped shape a new way of life in the colonies.
This contemporary story of Caroline's life highlights her spirited character, her current relevance, her feminist credentials and her egalitarian spirit.