Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 18:25 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 18:25 | SYDNEY

My books of the year


Allan Gyngell

23 December 2009 12:40

My views on books are, sadly, about the only thing I can contribute to debates on The Interpreter these days, so now that Rory has started the ball rolling, let me add my piece.

Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, charting the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, is the best book about politics – not just the politics of the Tudor court, but politics full stop – I have read for years. Not so much an historical novel as an astonishingly contemporary novel set in the past. 

Another book I loved was A.S Byatt's richly detailed The Children's Book. Ranging over subjects as diverse as pottery, puppetry, world fairs and children's literature, Byatt reveals something important about how educated Europeans of the Edwardian era sought refuge in fantasy and romance but instead found themselves delivered into the carnage of the first world war. A story to give heart to Realists everywhere.

Graeme Freudenberg's beautifully balanced and researched Churchill and Australia uses Churchill's relations with Australian leaders from Deakin through to Menzies to tell the story of Australia's changing relationship with the Empire. His Lowy Institute speech can be heard here but nothing can substitute for the book itself.

And like Rory, savouring every sentence, I read David Malouf's Ransom and found it as moving an account of fatherhood as I know.

Finally, Peter Temple's Truth – crime, corruption and bushfires in Melbourne – is great Australian writing and great summer reading.

Image courtesy of HarperCollins.