New Zealand fiction is featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres” category. This selection includes historical, contemporary, humorous and satirical fiction. Highly recommended is the new novel from Adrienne Jansen, titled A Line of Sight.
Murder & matchmaking / Debbie Cowens.
“It is a truth universally known that a mother in possession of a surfeit of daughters must be in want of eligible bachelors. Less well documented are the extremes to which she might go if her daughters’ prospects are endangered by other neighbourhood beauties. Murder and Matchmaking is a dark comedy that answers the question: if Mrs Bennett is so worried about what will happen to her if her daughters don’t marry, why doesn’t she really do something about it?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A line of sight / Adrienne Jansen.
“One afternoon Graham and Nick go out rabbit shooting. They spot some local cannabis growers on their land, and fire a warning shot to scare them off. One of the shots hit and a man is killed. A Line of Sight is a book about the lengths a person is willing to go to prove they’re not guilty of a crime they well have committed. It’s about male friendships, the emotional effects of war and a young blind boy name Swan, whose unexpected insight changes everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The writers’ festival / Stephanie Johnson.
“Writers’ festivals can be hotbeds of literary and romantic intrigue, and the Oceania is up there with the best of them. Rookie director Rae McKay, recently returned from New York, fears she has bitten off more than she can chew. Pressure comes not only from local and international writers but also from the prestigious Opus Book Award, which this year is being hosted by the festival. Add to that high-level diplomatic fallout surrounding a dissident Chinese writer, and Rae’s slowly disintegrating private life and ongoing dramas. This novel explores the contemporary phenomenon of the public face of the writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The hiding places / Catherine Robertson.
“When April Turner’s small son is killed by a car, she decides she is no longer entitled to anything but the barest existence. Five years on, she has shed everything and everyone she loves, and expects to be this way for ever. Then a letter arrives from an English solicitor, informing April that she is the last surviving heir to Empyrean, a long-abandoned country house. At first, April resists. But with the letter comes a map full of tiny mysteries, and she is drawn all the way from New Zealand to the English countryside, and into a small but intriguing circle of people: musician Oran, who remains loyal to his faithless wife; Jack, who lives wild in the woods with a dog; and Sunny, Lady Day, approaching ninety but more vital than others half her age. Sunny knew Empyrean in its prime, and her stories bring the past to life. But will April be prepared to give up her principles and start coming alive again herself?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Currents of change / Darian Smith.
“When Sara O’Neill goes on the run, she believes the tiny town of Kowhiowhio is just the sanctuary she needs. Her family’s old colonial house needs repair, but it’s safe from the abusive husband she left behind. However, a hostile local holds a grudge and a dangerous presence haunting her new home threatens Sara’s chance at peace. How can she create a new life while dealing with ghosts from the old?” (Adapted from Book cover)
Maybury Place / Keitha Smith.
“Maybury Place. Tranquil, safe, and neighbourly. Until new residents move in to Number Seven and shatter the peace. Within hours of their arrival four-year old Matthew Fleming has vanished. When the residents rally to search for the young boy they find their new neighbors hostile and uncaring about Matthew’s fate. Events escalate when strange characters start visiting Number Seven, the police are seen calling and one of their homes is robbed. Suspicions grow, causing the original neighbors to unite, determined to defend Maybury Place from unsavory elements. But is everything quite as it seems? Are the new inhabitants as bad as everyone fears? And has the prior tranquility of Maybury Place merely masked hidden secrets?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Death and forgiveness / Jindra Tichá.
“Anna has flown from New Zealand to her native Prague to nurse her dying mother. The night after the funeral she receives a phone call with the news that her husband Jan has committed suicide in faraway Dunedin.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Season of salt & honey / Hannah Tunnicliffe.
“Francesca ‘Frankie’ Caputo has it all figured out. She’s finally going to marry the man she loves and then they will live happily ever after. But when a freak accident cuts her fiancé Alex’s life tragically short, all of Frankie’s future plans suddenly disintegrate. Drowning in grief, Frankie flees from her overbearing Italian-American family, and escapes to an abandoned cabin owned by Alex’s parents in a remote part of Washington forest. As her heart slowly begins to heal, Frankie discovers a freedom that’s both exhilarating and unsettling to everything she has always known for sure. So when her old life comes crashing back in, Frankie must decide: will she slip quietly back into her safe, former existence? Or will a stronger, wiser Frankie Caputo stand up and claim her new life?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary
In the neighbourhood of fame / Bridget van der Zijpp.
“Rock musician Jed Jordan’s former fame means the events in his life have become public property. Years after ‘Captain of the Rules’ made him world famous in New Zealand, Jed is living quietly in an Auckland suburb with his family, growing peppers and recording in his home studio, when some disturbing new attention threatens to tear his world apart. Also profoundly affected are three women whose lives are closely caught up in Jed’s: his wife; a childhood friend who has returned from Australia for her father’s funeral; and the fifteen-year-old Jed chats to in the local dog park.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The predictions / Bianca Zander.
“Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture, a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals, at least in theory. But Gaialands’s strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti claims the commune’s energy needs to be healed and harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions. Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfill his dream of starting a punk rock band in London, she follows him. In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)