Dear Mr Elliot Perlman

Dear Mr Elliot Perlman,

It has been a long time since I have visited with one of your works. I was hopeful when I assigned The Street Sweeper to our book club list for 2012. An Australian, contemporary work – that is the category in which you came to us to read. But I was somewhat concerned – a lengthy novel, spanning so much history, so many intertwined narratives. Would I have the patience to persevere? Would you deliver a cleverly, mastered story that would draw me in and up into another world?

Yes. You did it Mr Perlman. I am ashamed to say what I thought I understood about race, identity and the perversion of humanity via acts of evil but nothing compared to the detail and reality you painted with the words of your characters.

In truth, you had me at the beginning….pencil in hand I started to underline your prose.

Memory is a wilful dog. It won’t be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you. It can sustain you or feed you. It visits when it is hungry not when you are. It has a schedule all of its own that you can never know. It can capture you, corner you or liberate you. It can leave you howling and it can make you smile.

Your latest novel, The Street Sweeper has given me memory of new people and places; of that delicious feeling of being captivated by a story and giving yourself over to it as you lock yourself away on a cold, wintery night and read and read and read…….

Thank you visiting with us. I dare not tell much more because I want my readers to enjoy this one for themselves.

S x

Planning with Kids

Nicole Avery’s 2011 book Planning with Kids did more than deliver a guide to organising chaos and making time for family fun. Written by a mother of five with a penchant for spreadsheets and numbers, Avery has tackled her role as wife and mother with meticulous attention to detail. The book largely draws her ideas from her notable blog of the same name. Her readership has engaged with many of the key aspects of her planning regime which includes: organising your family routines, meals and finances, ¬†and preparing for the different ages and stages of your children. There are some real gifts in between these pages, like cleaning using “the 15 minute block” rule or using her meal planner system ( I had a week’s worth of meals planned with a shopping list and all the recipes done in 5 minutes!). But for me Avery’s work is set apart by the fact that she doesn’t disguise the fact that life caring for a family is hard work and that every woman needs her own time and especially time with her partner.

You can read many guides and manuals about kid rearing, house cleaning and organisation in general. But rarely will someone tell you that time to build in your own rest is vital and an investment in your marriage is paramount. As women we need to do more than survive the daily challenges of planning life around kids, work and family life. We need to enjoy the life we have been given!

This is a book I would buy for my friends and a fun one to discuss with your girlfriends over coffee. I am open to using any new idea or tool that will give me more time with my husband and more fun with my kids. See my post about smarter shopping.How about you?