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Posted on 19 Dec 2023 in Fiction, Non-Fiction |

NRB readers’ favourite reviews of 2023

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Which of our reviews did you enjoy the most in 2023? We’ve checked the stats and the results are in: here are our top 10 reviews of the year. Is your favourite among them? Or one of your favourite books? Or just a few things you’d like to add to your TBR pile? (You don’t want to go into the New Year with an empty TBR pile, do you?)

This is our final post for 2023. We’ll be back with more reviews in January. In the meantime, a huge thank you to all our readers, and to our wonderful contributors – we wouldn’t be here without you. A very happy and book-filled festive season to you all.

Kate Morton Homecoming

Reviewed by Ann Skea

Anyone who has read Kate Morton’s earlier novels will know that she excels at setting the scene, creating interesting and likeable characters, leading you on until you are sure you have guessed the ‘secret’, then, in the end, proving that there is more to it than you ever imagined. Read the rest of this review.

Dominic Smith Return to Valetto

Reviewed by Ann Skea

Hugh Fraser is an American academic whose Italian mother, Hazel, used to take him to her home village in Italy for their summer holidays. He has fond memories of Valetto, this tiny hilltop village in Umbria, which had been a thriving town until a massive earthquake in 1695 … Read the rest of this review.

Fiona McFarlane The Sun Walks Down

Reviewed by Ben Ford Smith

‘The boy met a god by the hollow tree.’ So begins Fiona McFarlane’s second novel, The Sun Walks Down, and so begins a kaleidoscopic tour through the social strata of early colonial life in regional South Australia. Read the rest of this review.

Geraldine Brooks Horse

Reviewed by Catherine Pardey

Geraldine Brooks takes on a mighty task in her latest novel, Horse, covering events leading up to the American Civil War through the story of champion runner Lexington, and juxtaposing contemporary events … But of course, she is up to it. Read the rest of this review.

Anna Funder Wifedom

Reviewed by Braham Dabscheck

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously …’ This is a book about George Orwell; and it is not. This is a book about Eileen O’Shaughnessy, Orwell’s wife; and it is not. This is a book about the marriage, or what Anna Funder refers to as ‘the constellation’ that was Orwell and Eileen as they orbited around each other; and it is not. Read the rest of this review.

Kylie Needham Girl in a Pink Dress

Reviewed by Annette Hughes

The ‘girl in a pink dress’ is Frances, a young art student who charms her tutor (twice her age) and becomes his muse … the author slowly dissolves the dark layers of varnish obscuring the truth that Frances conceals from herself, and therein lies the pleasure of this novel. Read the rest of this review.

Robert Gott Naked Ambition

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

Fans of Robert Gott’s earlier William Power series, or his newspaper cartoon The Adventures of Naked Man, will not be all that surprised by either the subject matter or the style of his latest crime fiction offering, which does not indulge in anything like murder … Read the rest of this review.

Michael Trant No Trace

Reviewed by Michael Jongen

Michael Trant’s Wild Dogs (2022) was an action-packed thriller that introduced Gabe Ahern as Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher. Set in the north-west of Western Australia, it was an exciting read with a complex plot, great characters and a huge kill rate. Gabe Ahern is back in No TraceRead the rest of this review.

Nikki Mottram Crows Nest

Reviewed by Karen Chisholm

Readers of Crows Nest will not be surprised to learn that author Nikki Mottram has an extensive background in child protection work, and a degree in psychology. Her real-life experience of working in rural communities … prompted her to write this debut novel, the story of a dual murder. Read the rest of this review.

Stan Grant The Queen is Dead

Reviewed by Braham Dabscheck

In The Queen is Dead Stan Grant uses the death of the person he calls ‘The White Queen’ as a springboard to discuss not only fundamental questions about Australia and its sense of itself but also, and more importantly, the human condition. ‘All my life,’ he writes, ‘I have asked the question: what do we do with catastrophe?’ Read the rest of this review.

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