The Australian Women’s Weekly Book Club choices for August 2020

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We dig through the crop of new and exciting tales from authors at home and abroad to recommend you the very best in reading material.

Each month we publish our pick of the best books to dive into, as well as our Great Reads – the best of the best!

Plus, we’d love to hear from our bookworm readers!

Join us on Instagram and let us know what you’re currently reading, as well as your all-time favourite reads. Share a photo of your favourite book on Instagram using the hashtag #WomensWeeklyBookClub.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Keep on scrolling to see our top book picks for August.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Pull of the Stars

Our Great Read for August:

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Literary fiction

It’s 1918 and as this tender novel opens, nurse Julia Power is turning 30. The war is inching to a close but another battle is filling its shoes and though Julia should be celebrating her milestone birthday, instead we find her working on the maternity ward in an overburdened hospital in Dublin.

The ward is actually a converted supply room renamed “Maternity/Fever”; here pregnant women who have contracted Spanish Flu are treated in isolation.

On the tram she smells eucalyptus; the man next to her is pressing a soaked handkerchief over his nose and mouth. “I used to like the wood fragrance before it came to mean fear,” she notes.

Julia has already had the virus so is now immune but her supervisor is ill at home, leaving Julia alone and in charge.

Emma Donoghue actually wrote her novel before COVID-19 was even a thing, but it’s tempting to think that the author had some second sight.

Certainly, the currency of The Pull of the Stars gives it a gripping edge, but at its heart this is a story about friendship, love and compassion in extraordinary times.

Publisher: HarperCollins

One Bright Moon

One Bright Moon by Andrew Kwong


A beautifully crafted memoir of physician Kwong’s fleeing of Mao’s China to safety in Macau, Hong Kong and finally in 1969 to the “Golden Country”, Australia.

Abounding with courage and wisdom, we begin at his great-grandfather Fu-chiu’s arranged wedding. His “pretty as a moon” bride stumbles from her wedding sedan – a pole snapping – her veil flying away and delicate bound feet piercing through her wedding slippers.

Seen as unlucky by his father, Fu-chiu refuses to let the accident ruin the “sad maiden’s” life and insists the ceremony goes ahead.

Such bravery in Kwong’s ancestors is quickly understood as we witness the integrity of his own university-educated father Baba, who endures insults at the hands of student leaders.

At five Ah-mun (now Andrew) witnesses the arrest of his beloved Baba and public shaming with a rope around his neck. He is accused as a counter-revolutionary.

Sentenced to 15 years in prison, he farewells his children: “Get a good education and never stop learning. Keep your heads high.”

Publisher: Allen & Unwin


Buried by Linda La Plante

Crime fiction

This is the first in a new crime series from the creator of Prime Suspect and while it’s not as edgy in its characterisation, the twists and turns are vintage La Plante.

Detective Constable Jack Warr is hot, charming and aimless. He moved to London with his girlfriend Maggie for her career but has little ambition to rise up the ranks.

Then when a corpse is found in a burned out cottage with a heap of banknotes linked to a decades-old train robbery, Jack finally hits his stride.

Publisher: Penguin

Sex and Vanity

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Romantic comedy

Based – loosely – on E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, our protagonist is the over-privileged Lucie Tang Churchill, who as the novel opens is 19 and holidaying on the island of Capri.

Lucieis a “hapa” – half Chinese, half American – and on her first morning in Capri meets George Zao, a handsome Chinese-Australian surfer. Even though she claims to abhor him, they have a brief fling.

Then when years later the two meet again, it is clear Lucie is again attracted to George, only now she is engaged. A typically Kwan-like plot of deception and redemption follows.

Publisher: NLA

Australia’s First Naturalists

Australia’s First Naturalists by Penny Olsen and Lynette Russell

Natural history

This important book recognises the contribution by First Australians who led white expeditionists exploring the nation.

Without these guides the scientists could not have crossed the mountains, yet the owners of the land have largely remained nameless.

Dramatic colour plates show possums being smoked out, a moonlit bay as men and women use torches to attract fish, and men chasing a tagged bee to its honey.

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Silence

The Silence by Susan Allott


It’s the middle of the night in 1997 and Isla Green is fast asleep in her flat in London when the phone rings.

It’s her dad Joe calling from Sydney with some troubling news. In 1967 their next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe was the last person to see her alive and now he’s a suspect in her murder enquiry.

Told in chapters alternating between the 30-year time frames, Allott builds the tension deftly in this debut thriller as suspicion is thrown on different characters.

Publisher: Scribe

The Fogging

The Fogging by Luke Horton


This unsettling study of the breakdown of a relationship is utterly addictive. The novel opens as Tom and Clara head for Bali for their first holiday in a decade.

There is a tension between the couple and this quality time will hopefully salve the wounds.

But when Tom has a panic attack on the plane we get a glimpse of what is going on in his head… and it’s a mess.

Publisher: Five Mile


Persistence by Zanni Louise

Children’s fiction, ages 6 and over

A powerful book about not giving up, whether it be learning to ride a bike without wheels or reading.

And if you do then you have the skills to be kind to others.

“Persistence helps your heart grow, so you can look after the world, yourself and each other.” Fabulous illustrations.

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