Review: Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale

Title: Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club

Author: Julian Leatherdale

Published: March 3rd 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read March 2020, courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

“…she had sat at her typewriter, happily composing a murder scene for her novel. And now here she was thrust without warning into the middle of a real one, the unspeakably gruesome death of someone she knew.”

By day, Joan Linderman is a subeditor for a leading womens magazine, while at night she works on a crime novel she hopes to one day have published. But when her downstairs neighbour is discovered with her throat slashed, the line between fiction and fact becomes blurred, and Joan finds herself caught up in a tale of murder, blackmail, violence, and betrayal.

“Crime’s not a woman’s business, Joanie. It’s not some bloody game.”

The murdered woman, a prostitute, is more acquaintance than friend, so Joan is shocked when she finds a note that suggests a connection between Ellie and her rich, estranged uncle and aunt, former Major now lawyer, Gordon Fielding-Jones, and his wife Olympia. Leatherdale provides a complex mystery as Joan’s amateur investigation into the link takes surprising twists and turns through the stratum of society.

“It was a frightening, chaotic time for those who lived in the cross and its environs, but Joan felt an indescribable thrill to be living on the edge of this vortex of violence.”

What I particularly enjoyed about the novel was Leatherdale’s depiction of the social and political schism in Australia during the 1930’s. In the post World War I period, as the Great Depression steadily widened the gap between the haves and have nots, Sydney was the epicentre of unrest as the New Guard railed against Lang’s progressive government, the communist party tried to rally the masses against the upper class, razor gangs ruled the streets, and the bohemian community expressed its disdain for it all. The author brilliantly captures the divisions and overlap of these groups from the double agents amongst the political parties, to the criminal supply of drugs to the upper classes. The ceremonies of the Ladies Bacchus (aka Goddess) Club, are an elitist version of the uninhibited bohemian parties, without any recognition of the irony. The author also touches on issues such as the struggle of injured returned soldiers from the Great War, womens rights, and the marvel that was the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“For now she was heartily sick of this world of men’s making, of so much cruelty and suffering.”

An engaging historical mystery with a noir-ish feel, I enjoyed Death in the Ladies Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD $29.99

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Also by Julian Leatherdale reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & the Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published: March 5th 2020, Hutchinson

Status: Read January 2020

++++++

My Thoughts:

Despite the praise heaped upon Daisy Jones & The Six by many, I really wasn’t all that interested in the premise. I picked it up to read over Christmas mainly because it was selected as the prompt for January’s Six Degrees of Separation meme, and it happened to be on my local library’s ‘highlight’ shelf when I was picking up other titles I’d reserved.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Daisy Jones & The Six is the story of the rise and fall of a FICTIONAL (I feel must stress the point because it seems to be an area of confusion for some) 1970’s era rock band.

Reid presents Daisy Jones & The Six as a manuscript written by an initially unidentified author compiled primarily from transcripts of interviews and conversations with current and former members of the band, as well as family, friends, and industry elite who surrounded them at the time. I sincerely doubted that this would be an effective means of telling a story, but I was wrong. It works brilliantly for this subject, giving the story an extraordinary sense of authenticity that pulled me right in.

The story begins by alternately chronicling the journey of The Six, fronted by Billy Dunne, from an unknown blues-rock group gigging throughout their hometown of Pittsburgh to a band with an album climbing up the charts, in their own words, and Daisy’s recollections of sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip as a teenager where she discovered sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, dreaming of becoming a singer/songwriter. Eventually Billy and Daisy are brought together by a savvy music producer, and Daisy Jones & The Six rocket up the charts.

Daisy and The Six is about more than just sex, drugs and rock n roll. The characterisation is superb, as each relates their unique perspective of their rise to fame. They tell us about their hopes and dreams, their resentments and jealousies, their triumphs and tragedies. Not everyone remembers things the same way, and there are secrets that these conversations reveal for the first time, including why, at the height of their fame, the band dissolved, and what happened after (I loved the ‘twist’).

Creative and compelling, I’m not at all surprised that Daisy Jones & The Six won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (except I resent that the 1970’s is now considered historical). This was a hit for me.

*Incidentally, as I loved reading Daisy Jones and The Six, I also decided to give it a try as an audiobook. It’s not a format I’ve had success with but I figured this may be the book to convince me otherwise. Sadly that was not the case, though I did like the multi actor voicing, audiobooks are simply just not for me.

++++++

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