On a Cold Night


Sarah’s Top Five Aussie books to make you glad you’re snuggled up under the covers this winter.

1. The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

Described by the author himself as "a chilly novel" to "warm your souls", The Midnight Watch tells the tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic and of the Californian, the ship that could have saved her. Dyer tells a beautiful and heartbreaking tale guaranteed to have even the most cold-hearted in tears. As the Titanic sank, she called a nearby ship for help, but there was no response and the Titanic took 1500 souls to their watery graves. The Californian saw distress rockets but did not act. Boston journalist, John Steadman,smells a story lurking beneath the surface of the Californian's version of events. Based on true events, with extensive  research and experience, David Dyer recreates the night the Titanic sank with perfect clarity. It is a heartbreaking tale of loyalty, fate, class, and the strengths and failures of humanity. You'll definitely be up late reading this one!

2. Five Bells by Gale Jones

This beautiful piece of writing stars the Sydney Harbour. A beautiful literary fiction, the story centres around four strangers whose lives become intrinsically linked when a girl disappears in Circular Quay. The novel explores the internal monologues of these characters who each have strong ties to their past and to the city. A fast and beautiful read, and for Sydney-siders, a poignant love letter to a stunning city. I recommend taking a trip into the city and jumping on a ferry with this one - you'll see just how accurately she has depicted the sights and sounds.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

If you haven't read this one by now you're really missing out. The Book Thief is the story of German orphan Liesel Meminger as narrated by Death. Liesel lives with her adopted family on "Heaven Street" and learns to read from "borrowed" books - the most notable being from a burning pile in the middle of the town - with her adoptive father's help. When a young Jew - the son of one of Hans' war buddies - turns up in need of a place to stay, Liesel shares her love of books and stories with him, and forms a lifelong friendship. I can promise you that this book will make you laugh and cry, and is one of the world's best books. There's a reason it spent so long on the Dymocks Top 101!

4. The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

This novella, set in Melbourne, tells the story of a couple (Athena and Dexter) and their autistic son. They live a fairly simple life until someone from Dexter's past returns and shakes things up. Elizabeth, an ex-lover of Dexter's has brought her younger sister Vicki, her lover Philip and his daughter Poppy to town. The upheaval tests Athena and Dexter's relationship, pushing it to its very limit. A compelling and easy read with themes of morality, sexuality and the result of external forces on a seemingly happy marriage.

5. Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett

This story is set in Tasmania and is a haunting story of brotherhood, family and youthful innocence. It is a story of actions and consequences and is at times unbelievably heartbreaking. This one is better to read without knowing so I'll leave it at that. I promise you won't be disappointed.


Let us know in the comments your recommendations in Australian Lit this Winter!

Sarah Ambrose

Sarah works in publishing and can often be found with a good YA book in hand. She co-runs the Instagram page @your_reality_is_an_illusion which promotes and reviews books, and is a freelance editor. You can find her at: SarahNicoleEditorial