Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live? Curtis Sittenfeld's latest will absolutely scratch that itch.
How about a trip back in time to an Oxford bookbindery, or to the days of the Whitlam government?
Or perhaps you're just craving a good family drama, with all the twists and turns that entails.
As always, there's plenty to choose from in this week's books reviews.
And I welcome your thoughts and feedback on what we've been reading. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever wondered how a show like Saturday Night Live is put together each week? Or whether a hot celebrity musician could or would ever fall in love with an ordinary-looking comedy writer? Or maybe you're just craving a light-hearted romantic romp that's heavy on detail, low on stakes.
Curtis Sittenfeld has long straddled the divide between intensely readable fiction, and the deft research that layers the pages. Her latest, Romantic Comedy, was written during COVID with the specific purpose of cheering herself, and everyone around her, up.
"It's not a coincidence that I wrote a light, fizzy, romantic novel," she told me earlier this month.
"And in terms of doing research, the research I was doing was watching Saturday Night Live, reading memoirs by cast members, listening to comedians interview each other. I really was trying to find lightness and humour and happiness."
Keeping with the romance theme, Yvonne Weldon's creations in Sixty Seven Days joins a distinguished line-up of star-crossed lovers.
It's a love affair that lasts just 67 days, each one of which is documented in this narrative. It's a book filled with shadows, more shadow than light. But reviewer Mark Thomas is mightily impressed.
"Each phase in this benighted narrative of first love is raw, with Weldon's sharp and confronting prose in harmony with the harrowing story she tells," he writes.
It must be hard to follow-up a smash hit of a book like The Dictionary of Lost Words, but Pip Williams has returned to the same era and location - Oxford during the early 20th century - in The Bookbinder of Jericho.
Reviewer Karen Viggers is swept up in the narrative of strong women fighting to maintain access to knowledge.
"The Bookbinder of Jericho is a wonderfully constructed and layered novel representing working-class women through an engaging and sympathetic lens," she writes.
"However, Williams never glorifies the lives of these women, nor does she flinch from the hardship or challenges they face through poverty, disadvantage and the English class system."
Two sisters contending with a twisted and manipulative half-brother? We're in! Christine Keighery's novel The Half Brother ticks every box in this winding family saga, and reviewer Hanne Melgaard Watkins couldn't put it down.
The range of themes covered is impressive, as is Keighery's ability to drive the plot.
"The last thing I was absolutely not prepared for was the ending. I can't say anything without spoiling it, but holy mackerel," writes Watkins.
If that's not the most effective exhortation to go out and buy the damn book, I don't know what is.
The list of reforms brought about by the government led by Gough Whitlam in the 1970s is both monumental and often taken for granted today.
Women and Whitlam: Revisiting the Revolution, a timely book of essays edited by Michelle Arrow, is a useful reminder of all that was achieved during the Whitlam era, and how far we still have to go.
Reviewer David Ferrell is struck by this latter point.
"A thread of disappointment runs through many of the essays, as contributors reflect on how the lacklustre or antagonistic political will that followed Whitlam-era reforms undermined and chipped away at them," he writes.
If you discovered that the house you had just bought was once the residence of a Nazi informer, you too would probably be tempted to put it all in a novel.
Dutch writer Stefan Hertmans has done just that, with The Ascent, the story of Flemish man Willem Verhulst.
It's a novel that alternates between history and fiction, and for reviewer Frank O'Shea, the line isn't always easy to navigate. And a solid knowledge of Belgian history would be useful.
"While the writing is sparkling, and the story a strong one, the setting in mid-century Belgium is likely to be difficult for most Australian readers," he writes.
We can't all buy homes with an intriguing history, but what about accidentally taking home the wrong bag from the gym and spending some time in someone else's shoes, both literally and figuratively?
In Jojo Moyes' latest offering, Someone Else's Shoes, two women from different, ahem, walks of life, find themselves contemplating the existence of a complete stranger, via accidentally swapped bags. And it's a romp.
"As we step into the different worlds of these two women - no matter what footwear they've got on - we see that things aren't always as they seem on the surface, no matter how much money you have," writes reviewer Amy Martin.
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