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This rather earnest novel explains the reasons why some 19th century agricultural labouring families chose to emigrate from England to New Zealand.   It outlines how new technology clashed with the old rural ways, and how landowners tried to repress the growth of the union movement.  The various characters were well portrayed, and the love story gave added interest, but I may not have persevered with it if it hadn’t been for the New Zealand slant.  I found the Afterword confusing as it seemed to imply that all the characters were historical.

“I’m uncertain about this book
but it was worth a thorough look.”

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A ‘Tree Hill’ has sprouted beside our Book Fridge.

It bears resemblance to the Tree Hill that was formerly on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Oxford Terrace,  but ours has lounging seats for those who want to browse the books.   The other one was self-watering with water stores and pumps underneath.  I wonder if this one has the same amenities?  Thanks to Christchurch City Council and Greening the Rubble for this addition to our book corner.

“If you would like to read a book
you could lounge in this new green nook.”

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This book rewards careful reading.  It’s the story of the life of Teddy, who flew bombers during the second World War and his relationships with a variety of people.   The book also relates his life before and after the war, and at times I found the shifts in time distracting.  My father-in-law flew in WWII bombers, so the insights into the minds of these young airmen held special interest for me.  It’s sad to read of the thousands of lives lost and damaged.  War changed everything, and people simply did what they saw to be their duty.

This author has the ability to tell an engaging story and tell it well.  There’s a prequel to this book which tells the story of Teddy’s elder sister.  In time, I might like to read that too.

“The hero fought and thought of war
and sometimes wondered what it’s for.’

 

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This profoundly poignant book is the story of the 1953 Tangiwai disaster when a torrent of water gushed from Mount Ruapehu and fatally weakened a railway bridge just before the Wellington-Auckland express was due to cross.  For me it held echoes of Erebus and the Christchurch earthquakes.  A modern love story is wound around authentic tales from Tangiwai, sometimes making it hard to know what is truth and what is fiction.  In many ways it reads like a documentary.  There’s exploration of the conflict between commercial interests and environmentalists, overlaid with varying respect for Maori tikanga.  I found the book an interesting glimpse of a tragic episode in New Zealand history.

“So many passengers were killed.
Was this an old belief fulfilled?”

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I gave up on this book after 25 pages.  It is a “found novel” which means the author has recorded language from every aspect of her life over the course of a year.  She’s then edited it into a book which is promoted as being “bravely experimental and immersive”.   Each chapter is a month, divided into days.  It’s definitely too experimental for me.  I found it messy and prefer a more straightforward narrative.  This book requires more effort than I’m prepared to put in.  I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has tried to read it.

“Time is a pendulum with beat
and this a book I won’t complete.”

 

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I found this book profoundly moving.  Diana’s story of her long search for her lost father is enthralling and at times heart-breaking.  Her Jewish father survived the Warsaw Ghetto, the Holocaust, and more.  The loving care with which she researches and writes his story makes a book which anyone would find gripping, especially those who’ve done some family history research.

I lost my father at an earlier age than Diana, and can relate to the need to find out more details about his background and life.  My family story is a common one.  Diana’s is incredibly complex.

Many passages moved me to tears.  Reading of the memorial plaques Diana saw in Berlin reminded me of poignant plaques I saw on Paris schools commemorating the number of children who were deported and killed by Nazis because they were Jewish.

Paris, 2007

This memoir is beautifully written, and highly recommended.

“Historic horrors haunt this tale
as she unearths her father’s trail.”

 

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I haven’t actually read this book.  The prizewinning author is often recommended, and this is the holiday reading for our Book Discussion Group.  I didn’t like Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible”, but was attracted to this novel because it features Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  By page 80 I’d decided that if Frida didn’t turn up soon I’d stop reading.  On page 85 she finally appeared, but I gave up on page 120.  Life’s too short to spend time reading books I don’t enjoy.  Is there anyone else out there who finds this particular author unappealing?

“She’s simply not my cup of tea.
Group may discuss it without me.”

 

 

 

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