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A toothless, mildly entertaining read for lovers of Australia and expats.

In his memoir, a Frenchman-turned-Englishman recalls marrying an Australian girl and moving to the land Down Under, chronicling the first 365 days of his new life on the other side of the world.

On July 20, 2012—the dead of what passes for winter in Sydney—Vojetta (Opération Marie, 2013) offered his first post from the world’s biggest island. Thus begins the epistolary structure of this memoir—a single entry for each day, musing on the observed similarities and differences between Australia and the other countries he has called home. The Vojetta readers meet is a financial analyst–turned-writer who has published two previous books in French under the pseudonym Lawrence Tajevot. Vojetta, it seems, is most comfortable using an alias, so before two months of entries have elapsed, he has created a third-person version of himself named “Ollie,” in deference to Australians’ apparent love of abbreviations and acronyms. Ollie’s life in Sydney is a blessed one: He is entranced by the city’s seemingly eternal sunshine and outdoor sporting opportunities, and his pursuit of a new flat, a new car and frequent travel indicate that he has few financial worries. But his life also seems an oddly isolated one. Even a stranger in a strange land—particularly one who is married—will interact with other human beings from time to time, but Vojetta’s insistence on the third-person voice gives the impression that nearly all the observations and experiences are Ollie’s alone, companionless. Even his wife, who presumably accompanied him on most adventures, appears in the narrative only rarely (on Valentine’s Day, for instance. Perhaps because of this, an air of self-indulgence permeates Ollie’s entries—what might be a slightly inflated sense of the profundity of his observations or the wittiness of his wordplay. Ollie may also be overconfident in his English writing skills, which, while not deplorable, clearly indicate that he is not a native speaker: “But then, to follow grammar rules to the letter is perhaps even more important than simplicity. And this is why CEO’s (sic) tweeting is without doubt asking for trouble.”

A toothless, mildly entertaining read for lovers of Australia and expats.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-646-92090-0

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Blurb Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2014

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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