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Natasha Lester's discusses All the Birds, Singing, The Miniaturist and The Steady Running of the Hour in this Month's Book Chat.

I’ve travelled some diverse terrain in this month’s Book Chat. From Mount Everest, to 17th century Amsterdam, into the trenches of the first world war, and across to a shearing shed in WA’s North-West.

I read two first novels in Justin Go’s The Steady Running of the Hour and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. One of these was my favourite book this month because I really did escape into the world created in its pages. Which one? Well, you’ll have to watch Book Chat to find out!

And even though I thought Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing was a very accomplished novel, well-written and with a plot twist I didn’t see coming, I don’t think I can recommend it to everyone. Why not? Again, I’ll reveal all in Book Chat, which you can watch below.


Join Me For Next Month’s Book Chat

I’ve chosen another three books for next month’s Book Chat and I hope you can join me in reading at least one of them. Of course I’m continuing my love affair with historical fiction and have Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth on my list. You might remember I reviewed The Wild Girl, also by Kate Forsyth on Book Chat a few months ago and after having her as a guest on my blog last week, I felt compelled to pick Bitter Greens up off my shelf and give it a read.

I’m also reading Kim Kelly’s The Blue Mile; more historical fiction by an Australian woman writer. My final pick is historical again; The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd who wrote the bestselling The Secret Life of Bees.

I look forward to hearing your comments about the books I’ve reviewed this month. Have I inspired you to read the book that was my favourite? Do you agree with me about Evie Wyld’s book? Let me know what you think.

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11 Responses to “Book Chat: A Miles Franklin Winner and Great Historical Fiction”

  1. Emily

    Great work, as always. I tried to photograph my dog watching Book Chat but he kept moving when he saw the camera.

    I’ve read Bitter Greens, which was awesome, and The Blue Mile, which was underwhelming, but I might read The Invention of Wings in time for next month.

    • Natasha Lester

      I’m really looking forward to Bitter Greens. The Invention of Wings is great so far – I’m only a few chapters in, but I think it’s the kind of book you’d really like.

      Hilarious that your dog watched Book Chat – maybe he liked the chicken noises in the background!

  2. Karen

    Thanks, Natasha, I was so interested to hear your thoughts on ‘All the birds, singing’ – I finished it last night! Like you, I would not recommend it to anyone to read, even though the structure is fabulous, the story intriguing and the protagonist strong and engaging. I didn’t think the cover was a good match for the story – Jake didn’t seem the red dress wearing, long hair flicking kind of girl!

    I’m wondering about the role of the editor in books by first-time authors – should they be more involved in guiding the authors in any ‘awkwardness’ or ‘unevenness’? As a non-fiction editor, I see my job to alert authors to discrepancies or areas which could be improved by asking lots of questions. I wonder whether there were editors who asked the questions but the authors couldn’t quite smooth out the awkwardness or whether the authors need more guidance or more experience. Who knows?!!

    • Natasha Lester

      Hi Karen, great question re awkwardness in first time authors. I think from my own experience of once upon a time being a first time author that I didn’t yet have the skills to fix the awkwardness. I knew the book was imperfect but it was as good as my finite powers could make it. Also, with hindsight and distance from the book, and the learning of writing more books, you see things a little differently than you could at the time. So I think many first books will have that awkwardness simply due to the writer’s experience at that time. Which is kind of why I like first books – because you can see the potential the author has and the slight roughness of of the new. Hope that makes sense!

      • Karen

        Yes, it’s like when you look up an earlier draft of your own writing and cringe because it’s not quite there and you also exult at the same time because the fact that you can see the awkwardness means you have improved!

  3. Maureen

    Another fascinating book chat, Natasha. Thanks so much for sharing your responses. I’ve got All the Birds, Singing ready to read, and don’t feel at all put off by the despair and devastation you report — in fact, some of the best books I’ve read are ultimately very sad, including the superb Traitor, by Stephen Daisley (another outstanding WA author — must be something in the water!). I bought my niece, who is living in London, The Miniaturist for her birthday earlier this month, as she spent quite a bit of time in the Netherlands last year. Looking forward to her feedback.

    • Natasha Lester

      Yes, Traitor was an excellent, but overlooked, book. I think you’ll appreciate All the Birds, Singing – Wyld is certainly a gifted writer. And Burton really makes The Netherlands come to life in her book so I’m sure your niece will love reading about Amsterdam in all its vivid historical detail. Thanks for watching Maureen!

  4. Anne Jones

    Hi Natasha. Thanks for the book club this month. I’m reading the Steady Running of the Hour at the moment and it is compelling. I’m enjoying both Tristan’s research and the story of Ashley and Imogen and find myself getting to the end of a chapter and thinking oh, I’ll just read the next chapter, as I get drawn along by the story. I’ve also read All the Birds, Singing recently and agree with your comments about that book.

    I’ve also just finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, which is an absolute masterpiece, but probably not for everyone due to the harrowing descriptions of events on the Burma Railway in WWII. Also excellent and highly recommended is Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. Flanagan and Kent are Australian writers and it’s great to see that we have such brilliant authors writing in Australia.

    • Natasha Lester

      Hi Anne

      Glad you’re enjoying The Steady Running of the Hour – and nice to hear you enjoy Tristan’s search through the archives too. I wasn’t sure if it was just the writer in me that found that interesting or if it would have wider appeal.

      I’ve heard lots of good things about Richard Flanagan’s book and must get around to that one soon. I also found Burial Rites very compelling – amazing to think that was her first book. A very accomplished debut.

      Thanks for watching Anne and I hope you join in again next month.

  5. Margilou

    Thanks, Natasha Once again, II enjoyed your Book Chat.
    And I’m in the middle of your videos on Scrivener – it’s great! Thank for that, too!.


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