The first memoir was Searching For Women Who Drink Whisky by Miranda Kennedy. Kennedy's approach to writing about her experiences living in Delhi is refreshing - rather than a list of "I saw this, I met them, I did that" she used a lens of Indian women's lives through which to focus. I would have liked it to go a little deeper, but but I still enjoyed it. The ideas she raises about women's liberation and traditional roles for modern women are thought-provoking, and a little distasteful.
No Chopsticks Required by Katrina Beikoff didn't seem to go very far beyond the surface, but I'll admit that I didn't finish it. I think it would have been fine if I hadn't just read a rather good travel memoir, but because I had, I needed something to do more than fill in the mental gaps of space in my brain like a magazine in the dentist's waiting room fills in time. Really, it was just someone grappling with language difficulties, unfamiliar surroundings and Shanghai's extreme pollution and the only thing that made it different from the thousands of other travel memoirs out there was the odd big word or two. I am coming across a tad too grumpy - I would definitely recommend this to someone with an interest in or connection to China, or to someone who needs a "holiday read" (euphemism for "no effort required"), even though I didn't love it myself. It was ok.
Cuckoo by Julia Crouch was also "ok". I had high hopes for this kitchen sink psycho drama, and I really loved reading it but the ending was a big fat lard lump of disappointment. Not only was it weak and a tiny bit confusing, but it opened up a lot of other holes in the plot when I tried to figure everything out. AND made me notice things about the central character that were uneven, which I had been quite happy to ignore while the story was rollicking along. Another one for the "holiday read" pile.
Too Close to Home, Georgia Blain. This book took me three days instead of two to read because it made me sad and uneasy, so I needed to put it on stop for a little bit. It really did get to me. Part of what I loved was the Sydney and Australia references, which might make it too specific for other audiences, especially some of the references to Australian politics. I don't think so though.
I'm now trying some history once again, but there is a new fiction title on my horizon that looks like it might be 2011's answer to The Nineteenth Wife.