A roundup of short general fiction reviews:
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy,
by Rachel Joyce (Black Swan, RRP $35):
This novel comes with a healthy critical reputation and is by an award-winning, internationally best-selling author. If you’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, then you will most positively enjoy this. Otherwise you’ll enjoy it anyway and then seek to read the Harold Fry book. Queenie Hennessy is dying in a hospice. She’s received a postcard from a colleague of 20 years ago, Harold Fry, to hold in there while he walks to visit her. While she waits, Queenie writes a letter to Harold explaining some of the things about their shared past. Queenie has loved and lost Harold Fry and this letter is a redemption of sorts. It is a companion novel to Pilgrimage, not originally intended but a brilliant novel in its own right. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended. Now I’m off to the library seeking the much lauded original novel.
Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings,
by Tina Makereti (Random House, RRP $38):
This is the first novel by veteran, critically acclaimed short story writer Tina Makereti and what a tale she weaves! Lives of different generations from the same family are interwoven as we see the impact of the past on the present. This is a story of love, loss and quite possibly redemption. Our modern day protagonist, brought up in a Pākehā world, is getting to grips with her Māori heritage as well as discovering that she has Moriori ancestry too. Through Lula and the other characters, Makereti explores what it means to belong. Once started, this home grown novel was very difficult to put down. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended.
Landscape with Solitary Figure,
by Shonagh Koea (Random House, RRP $30)
Shonagh Koea is an award-winning New Zealand author. Her protagonist, Ellis, has been widowed for 20 years and is slowly eating her way through her assets, selling off pieces as she needs income. Like the upward spiral that new wealth bought – larger and better houses – Ellis has now been sliding down to smaller and cosier. This whole novel is really a thought process as Ellis looks back on an episode, if one can call it that, from ten years previously. In one of her downsizing moves, she had returned to a town where she had lived happily in the past. However, it led to a year of terror from which she is still recovering and which changed her irrevocably. The author cleverly gets into Ellis’ state of mind. The two different narrative perspectives are melded relatively seamlessly. Quite a good story that I enjoyed reading. Koea has a healthy critical reputation. Her work could be worth looking out for.