New Zealand writers feature in this month’s selection from the new ‘Other Genres’ category. There are several debut novelists, and the fiction themes range from historical romances to psychological thrillers, from werewolves to substance abuse. Also included is the latest novel from the well-known writer Albert Wendt, titled Breaking connections.
First names only : a New Zealand novel / Elaine Blick.
“Janice at 18 is ambitious and has set her sights on a top degree in languages. When she finds she is pregnant Janice’s world comes crashing down, for this is 1960s New Zealand, when to be pregnant and single is a disgrace. Janice has no choice but to enter Sunnyvale, a home for unmarried mothers in Auckland. Once the baby is born the maternal tug is powerful and she longs to keep him. Can Janice bear to give up her child with the knowledge that she may never see him again?” (Adapted from Book cover)
New beginnings at Lilyfields / Lottie Bloom.
“Lilyfields cottage has been lying empty since its previous occupant, Rosa, got married. It’s just the haven Orla Nolan is looking for. She needs to recuperate after an accident has dashed her dreams of acting in a movie that’s being filmed in a neighbouring bay. Orla is feeling lonely and dejected, but before long she is confronted by two handsome suitors. She’s spoilt for choice, except they are father and son, and while one is a touch too old and too settled for her liking, might the other be too young and too wild? Meanwhile Rosa’s former boyfriend has turned up and appears to be finding it hard to let go of his lost love. As Orla struggles to find a new role for herself at Lilyfields, will its magic deliver true love?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Backwards Into the Future / Bronwyn Elsmore
“Everyone knows you can’t go back. Everyone except Mary apparently, because here she is, back in her old hometown. That’s because of two women, Kui and Ana. One of them is pushing her, the other is holding back, and between the two there’s much to be resolved. The plum tree and the manuka have gone, but a lemon tree thrives. The mystery of the Marakihau may never be solved; but if Ana returns, their friendship and some things from the past can be recovered. Can’t they?” (Adapted from Book cover)
The bordello girl / Hilary Murray.
“Auckland bordello owner Kitty Malloy understands men. But even she is taken aback when Silas Crawford asks her help with his young, naive wife. Twenty-three year old Thea Crawford has come to realise getting married was a terrible mistake and yearns to be free of her middle-aged over-bearing husband and his constant demands. Darius is a playboy and adventurer. A favored customer at the bordello, when Thea is blackmailed into becoming one of Kitty’s girls he sweeps her off her feet. But should she listen to the others when they tell her of his reputation? Or are his feelings for her real?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The seer’s wolf / Barbara Petrie.
“It is 1952 and strange events are taking place in Loam, a small settlement in rural Canterbury, New Zealand. Ralph Randal, his wife Irena and their three daughters have immigrated to the area from England, but as they settle in, the curiosity of Clover, a neighbouring farm girl, is aroused. An air of mystery surrounds the English family, and Ralph Randal appears to dote excessively on his lovely eighteen-year-old daughter, Satina. What is really happening to cause an unsettling shadow of gloom to enshroud the community?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The exodus file / Reg Puckey.
“An American scientist discovers an asteroid made of magnetite will pass close enough to Earth to shift not just the magnetic north pole but the physical north pole as well, right into the heart of the USA. Mark Lucas chooses to brief the President about America’s ice-age fate before telling his scientific colleagues, a decision that threatens to cost him his life, his conscience and his integrity, as a national security ‘cone of silence’ descends on his discovery. At what point does political power become megalomania? If the end of the world was coming, who would you tell?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).
The gentlemen’s club / Jen Shieff.
“Headstrong and independent, Rita Saunders is a successful hairdresser by day and a busy brothel madam by night. The only thing missing from her life is the love of a good woman. Istvan Ziegler is a Hungarian immigrant who has come to New Zealand to work on the brand new harbour bridge project. He is full of hope and dreams of a better life. Sixteen-year-old Judith Curran has come to Auckland for an abortion. With no money or family support, she finds herself at the mercy of strangers and simply has to hope they have her best interests at heart. Becoming bound into a desperate situation involving a group of orphan girls, Rita, Judith and Istvan find fortitude they never knew they possessed. But do they have enough of it to expose the menacing orphanage director and the slice of the heartless and seedy 1950s’ underworld he inhabits?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Breaking connections : a novel / by Albert Wendt.
“A dynamic group has emerged in Auckland whose members refer to themselves as the Tribe. Mainly Polynesian, they grow up together, rise from poverty and become successful professionals, bound by love and fierce loyalty. At the centre, is Aaron, who lives at the edge of danger, shady dealings and self-destruction. When Daniel, receives a call in Hawaii telling him that Aaron has been killed, he returns to New Zealand and steps into the most dangerous crisis the Tribe has faced. They must confront the truth about who Aaron is and what they, as the Tribe, have become, and also face the infidelity and greed that threaten the cohesion of the Tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Pounamu prophecy : a sweeping story of love, betrayal and hope / Cindy Williams.
“Since she watched her village burn to the ground, Mere’s life has been anything but dull. Now as an older woman she has come to stay with Helene and James to finish writing her life story, a tale of injustice, revenge and reconciliation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
How to grow an addict : a novel / J. A. Wright.
“Randall Grange has been tricked into admitting herself into a treatment center and she doesn’t know why. She’s not a party hound like the others in her therapy group but then again, she knows she can’t live without pills or booze. Her parents introduced her to alcohol and tranquilizers at a young age, ensuring that her teenage years would be full of bad choices, and by the time she’s twenty-three years old, she’s a full-blown drug addict, well acquainted with the miraculous power chemicals have to cure just about any problem she could possibly have and she’s in more trouble than she’s ever known was possible.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)