I discovered Kate Morton a little over a year ago, when I read and reviewed her new book The Secret Keeper for Lip Magazine. I instantly fell in love with the author, and was determined to read her back list. For Christmas last year, I got given The Shifting Fog, and have been yet to read it. So it seems only fitting that I begin my 100 Homegrown Reads Challenge with the book.
I haven’t read much of the book yet, but already I’m captivated. A film maker is making a film about a mysterious suicide which occurred in an old English mansion in 1924. In 1999, 98 year-old Grace Bradley is the only person still living who can shed any light on what occurred that night at Riverton Manor. The film maker contacts Grace to ask if she would review the sets to make sure the details are correct, and Grace’s memory sends her back to 1924.
Morton begins the novel with a scene written as though it is part of the film maker’s movie script, and I must admit, it is quite off-putting to open the first page and be confronted by a movie script. I wanted to be immediately drawn into the story, and Morton’s beautiful prose, and starting with the script removed my interest immediately. But once I found the courage to actually start the novel, I didn’t want to put it down. I am especially eager to find out how the mystery of the suicide is resolved, given the brilliant twist Morton injected into the end of The Secret Keeper.
Morton is another Australian writer who chooses to write stories set in other countries, but her inclusion on the list of favourite home grown reads shows that it is not the locality of a novel which necessarily makes a novel Australian, but the nationality of the author who writes the story. And when the writer is as good as Kate Morton is, why would we claim her books are anything but Australian? Looking forward to all the twists and turns I’ll undoubtedly discover in The Shifting Fog!
…for whatever that means for you personally. It is a day which has different meanings for different people, and, much like other celebrations in Australia, different people have different traditions and ways of celebrating. For me, this year, I’ve spent the weekend catching up with old friends, making new friends, watching the tennis and cricket and enjoying the glorious weather. There was, of course, a BBQ somewhere in there too, and plenty of reading!
Which brings me to the Booktopia countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist. The results are in, and I was shocked and delighted to find that Kate Morton (a novelist I only discovered last year, who is now one of my favourites) topped the list, pipping favourite Tim Winton at the post! You can find the whole list of the top fifty here. So if you find yourself stuck and looking for a good Aussie read to sink your teeth into, that list is an excellent place to start.
And don’t forget January’s book club book is Peter Carey’s My Life as a Fake. You still have a few days to get reading!
November has been one of those months where life sweeps you up and spins you around and spits you out after three weeks, and you’re left standing there, wondering where the time went.
Because of this, instead of posting a short post about an Aussie book I’ve read recently, I’m going to instead direct you to two reviews I wrote for Lip Mag during November about two books which have been getting a lot of publicity recently: Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington and The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Both of these books completely subverted my expectations, and I think I’ve found a new favourite writer in Kate Morton.
I’m reading a book of poetry published by a small Adelaide press at the moment, which I’m hoping to have up in the next couple of days (now that life has planted me back on my feet and slowed its pace a little!).