Book Bites: MT Edvardsson, Lara Love Hardin, Michael Cunningham

This week we feature a chilling Nordic noir, an Oprah’s Book Club pick about a soccer mom turned criminal, and a finely crafted new novel from the author of 'The Hours'

24 March 2024 - 00:00
By GILL GIFFORD, Gabriella Bekes and Russell Clarke
'The Woman Inside' by MT Edvardsson.
Image: Supplied 'The Woman Inside' by MT Edvardsson.

The Woman Inside

MT Edvardsson 

**** (4 stars)

This Nordic noir does not disappoint. While it was a bit drawn-out at 384 pages, it made up for it with amazing character-driven execution, a range of points of view from the different players in the murder mystery, excerpts of interrogations, newspaper postings, and even a peek at the crime scene at the beginning. There’s some really good storytelling here — if you can stick with the characters and their questionable behaviour. The ending was a little nuts and completely surprising. But the final wrap-up was both neat and satisfying. — Gill Gifford

'The Many Lives of Mama Love' by Lara Love Hardin.
Image: Supplied 'The Many Lives of Mama Love' by Lara Love Hardin.

The Many Lives of Mama Love: A Memoir of Lying, Stealing, Writing, and Healing

Lara Love Hardin, Simon & Schuster

*** (3 stars)

This is an Oprah’s Book Club pick in which successful ghostwriter Hardin recounts her slide from soccer mom to opioid addict to jailhouse shot-caller. It begins when she meets her second husband DJ in rehab, where they are quick to get back into the habit of chasing the dragon. Lara has three sons from her first marriage, and one with DJ. The couple live in picket-fence suburbia in a US town where no-one would ever guess that Lara makes a living stealing credit cards from her neighbours and out of the handbags of school moms. But things start falling apart. One morning the police arrive and arrest Lara and DJ, and take her baby into child protection. Lara’s world collapses as she is taken to the G block of the jail where she will await trial. — Gabrielle Bekes

'Day' by Michael Cunningham.
Image: Supplied 'Day' by Michael Cunningham.


Michael Cunningham, 4th Estate

(*** 3 stars) 

Best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, Cunningham’s first output in 10 years, Day, is at once a pandemic novel and not one. Cunningham returns to his favoured triptych structure, and the novel is set over the course of three New York spring days: morning, midday and the evening of April 5 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively, placing us firmly before the outbreak of Covid-19, then plunging us into the fearful early days of lockdowns, and finally closing in the aftermath of the outbreak. The C-word is never directly mentioned, and the pandemic acts merely as the context of and catalyst for an intimate domestic drama laden with literary references. Isabel and Dan are in the early years of middle age and married with two children. They live in a starter New York apartment now far too small for them, made smaller by Isabel’s gay brother, Robbie, who lives in the attic. The pandemic changes everything. The power of Cunningham’s writing stems from his finely crafted observations of liminal spaces, the in-between moments that make up so much of the stages of human existence. — Russell Clarke