General fiction reviews

Last updated 10:00 09/11/2013

Reviewer Naida Mulligan takes a look at some of the fiction novels available in bookstores now.

The Fall of Light
By Sarah Laing (Random House, RRP $38)

Our first-person narrator is award- winning architect Rudy.

His world is crumbling around him as he seems to be losing his edge at work, is failing to convince his estranged wife to return home with their two daughters and then is almost killed in a Vespa accident. What follows makes for an enjoyable, riveting read.

This is a second novel for critically acclaimed New Zealand graphic designer and author, Sarah Laing, who has also published a short story collection.

She is currently working on a graphic novel about Katherine Mansfield.

Highly recommended.

The Last Days of the National Costume
By Anne Kennedy (Allen & Unwin, RRP $37)

There's a sticker on the front of my copy of this book which proclaims, "Read it. Love it. Or your money back."

It seems like a rash statement but a reader would have to be very hard to please indeed if they didn't enjoy this yarn. It's told in the first person by Megan "Gogo" Sligo, a mending and alterations expert, and set in Auckland during the five-week black-out in 1998.

Gogo has been tasked with mending an Irish dancing costume and becomes drawn into the lives of the people associated with it.

Some of the themes are love, marriage, deceit and childhood baggage. Gogo's narration is fresh and compelling.

The critically acclaimed author has recently retired from teaching fiction and screenwriting at the University of Hawaii. She has written several novels, screenplays and poetry collections.

I certainly read and loved this novel. Highly recommended.

Dear Thing
By Julie Cohen (Random House, (RRP, $37)

This story is about friendship, love, relationships. And surrogacy. Romily has been best friends with Ben for 11 years.

Once, she had hoped for more but Ben is happily married to his soulmate, Claire. The only blight in the lives of this happy couple is their inability to have children. Years of ineffective IVF, publicly funded and then their own attempts, have resulted in failure.

Claire is calling it a day and Ben is devastated that she is giving up after trying for so long. This is where Romily steps in and offers to have a baby for them.

Thus follows all the emotional upheavals and relationship changing dramas that you might expect.

I wasn't overly keen on reading such a story and it was difficult to get started but, once I got into the story and engaged with the characters, it was difficult to put the book down.

Highly recommended.

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