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Horse by Geraldine Brooks (the wonderful Geraldine Brooks!) A wonderful mix of history and fiction, art and science, based on the true story of the famous 19th century Kentucky racehorse Lexington and the social milieu in which he came to fame amidst slavery, injustice, and an obsession with horses. A painting of him unites a young couple in 2019 – Jess who studies the skeleton to understand the champion’s physiology, and an art historian named Theo. The care and reverence in this book is remarkable – as is always the way with Geraldine Brooks – and I loved it.
The Secret World of Connie Starr by Robbi Neal. This is a real evocation of Australian life through the war to the 1950s, recreating a world that is now lost to us. It’s a brightly coloured patchwork quilt of everything from shoes to polio, lemon trees to rivers, death to life that melds together – centred around Connie Starr who was always a difficult child and sees the world for exactly what it is. It’s been compared to Cloudstreet and Boy Swallows Universe.