Fresh Historical Fiction

The Silence of the Girls book cover

Here are some recent titles ranging from first time authors through to accomplished writers. Two authors bring ancient and more recent Chinese history to our library collection. A thin slice of heaven – Tiāntáng bópiàn by Paul Wah recounts a family tale of an emigration to New Zealand followed by a return to a changed homeland. A Hero born by Jin Yong and translated by Anna Holmwood – is the first title of the twelve volume epic Legends of the Condor. Jin Yong is the pen name of Louis Cha Leung-yung, one of the most widely read authors in China, with a plethora of film, TV and game adaptations for his works of the wuxia genre – martial arts chivalry. This epic details the rise of the different forms of martial arts and the sweeping territorial exchanges of 13th century China.

History is written by the victorious, or so the story goes, yet there are so many tales are hidden in the vast mesh of human history. Writers have been teasing these stories from research, family anecdotes and personal interest to bring previous eras vividly to life. Although these are fictional accounts, the reconstruction of historical places and people; personal and national politics help us understand our own times.

Pat Barker, renown for her Regeneration Trilogy has turned her mind to the legend of The Ilyad, Silence of the girls, places the reader in the experiences of the women during the Trojan War. Conn Iggulden also looks to ancient conflict in The Falcon of Sparta. There is also a new edition of Mary Renault’s Funeral Games which transports the reader to the time and place of the death of Alexander the Great, and features all that follows in the wake of the vacuum of a lost leader. Other titles leaf through the pages of history to bring you tales of intrigue from Georgian London, and also trials of new settlement in North America and Australia.

A thin slice of heaven / Wah, Paul
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.” (Catalogue)

A hero born / Jin,Yong
“China: 1200 A.D. The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. On the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts.” (Catalogue)

The silence of the girls : a novel / Barker, Pat
“Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.” (Catalogue)

Daughter of a daughter of a queen / Bird, Sarah
“Powerful, epic, and compelling, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines light on a nearly forgotten figure in history. Cathy Williams was born and lived a slave – until the Union army comes and destroys the only world she’s known. Separated from her family, she makes the impossible decision – to fight in the army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers.” (Catalogue)

Funeral games / Renault, Mary
“After Alexander’s death in 323 BC his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Wives, distant relatives, and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army.” (Catalogue)

The optickal illusion : a very eighteenth-century scandal / Halliburton, Rachel
“It is three years from the dawn of a new century and in London, nothing is certain any more: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with right and left-wing conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Against this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a strange father and daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.” (Catalogue)

Salt creek / Treloar, Lucy
“Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch… Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can with the few travellers that pass nearby, among them a young artist, Charles – and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos.” (Catalogue)

The falcon of Sparta / IIggulden, Conn
“In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. 401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India. As many as fifty million people are his subjects. His rule is absolute. Yet battles can be won – or lost – with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food and without water. Based on one of history’s most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s choice: Engaging with fiction titles

Recent selections from our collection by patrons include thrillers, science fiction, historical and contemporary fiction. Some reviews will make you wonder if your reading experience will be a little or a lot different.

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The last girl / Hart, Joe
“A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than one percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women. Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away, told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.” (Catalogue)

“Although the pace was a bit slow to start it developed into a very exciting book. I look forward to the next in the series.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The wife : a novel / Wolitzer, Meg
The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it’s also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man’s world.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book very apt in this 125 years of suffrage, as Joan Castleman finally decides at the age of 64 years to have another chance at life.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Man out of time / Bishop, Stephanie
“One summer, a long time ago, Stella sat watching her father cry while the sky clouded over. He had tried to make amends: for his failures, for forgetting to buy the doll she once hoped for, for the terrible things he had done. The first time Stella sensed that something was wrong was on her ninth birthday. There was an accident, and when she opened her eyes there was the tang of blood in her mouth. Leon was beside her. But not quite there. In the winter, when her father finally came home from hospital, he looked different. Looked at her differently. Now he was missing, and Stella held the key to his discovery. But did he want to be found?” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was bleak and the only way I could deal with it was to dip into it every 20 pages or so.  Nothing like My Name Is Lucy Barton, which I loved.” (Unrateable)

The late bloomers’ club : a novel / Miller, Louise
“Two sisters, beloved diner owner Nora and her short-on-cash filmmaker sibling, Kit, are inheriting the property of local cake-making legend Peggy. The town is divided on whether the sisters should sell the land to a big-box developer, which Nora opposes, but everyone wants to find Peggy’s lost dog. Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what’s “the usual.” But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town’s beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a great light read. I didn’t want to put it down.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

River under the road / Spencer, Scott
“Thirteen parties over the course of two decades–an opium infused barbeque, a reception for a doomed presidential candidate, a fund-raiser for a blind child who speaks in tongues, a visit to one of New York’s fabled sex clubs–brilliantly reveal the lives of two couples. Funny and cutting, affecting and expansive, River Under the Road is Scott Spencer’s masterpiece of all that lies beneath our everyday lives-a story about the pursuit of love, art, and money, and the inevitable reckoning that awaits us all.” (Catalogue)

“Well written and well developed characters.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐  (4/5 stars)

Belladonna / Drndić, Daša
“Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, full of empathy, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In Belladonna, Dasa Drndic pushes to the limit the issues about illness and the (im)possibility of living (and dying) in contemporary, utterly dehumanised world where old age and illness are the scarlet letters of shame thrown in the face of the advertised eternal youth and beauty.” (Catalogue)

“Most interesting and unusual. I feel I should read it again to pick up all the points.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  (5/5 stars)

The history of bees / Lunde, Maja
“This novel follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees–and to their children and one another–against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis… Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (adapted from Catalogue)

“A great read… I can envision an film.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)

The orphan of Florence / Kalogridis, Jeanne
“In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.” (Catalogue)

“Excellent, good storylines and interesting plot.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

LitCrawl is back at WCL!

LitCrawl is back and this year they are celebrating five years of the crawl! From 8 – 11 November you can get involved in over 50 events featuring writers, illustrators, storytellers, musicians, historians, taxidermists, performance artists and more! LitCrawl features the famous crawl on Saturday 10 November from 6pm to 9.15pm, during which there are 25 events in as many locations in Wellington’s CBD. The LitCrawl Extended programme is running again this year between Thursday 8th and Sunday 11th November and is a mixture of free and ticketed events, so make sure you mark your diaries and take a good look at the programme! There is something for everyone at LitCrawl! For the full programme see Litcrawl.co.nz.

We have two very exciting events at Central this year!

True Stories Told Live is back! LitCrawl and the New Zealand Book Council are bringing True Stories Told Live back to Central on Saturday 10 November as part of Phase 1 of the crawl. From 6pm – 6.45pm an epic line up of writers deliver true stories on the theme of age. Featuring Victor Rodger, Eirlys Hunter, Lizzie Marvelly, Raymond Antrobus, Helen Heath and Kate Spencer. Hosted by Penny Ashton. To plan out the rest of your crawl, check out the full programme online.

And something for the kids! Earlier on Saturday 10 November bring the kids along to the first ever KidsCrawl. LitCrawl has joined forces with the amazing Annual (edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris) to create an adventure for the whole family. At KidsCrawl you will be given a story map that takes you all over the library in search of Annual authors who have a story to tell… KidsCrawl is free but registration is essential. For information and to register see the website.

Read before you crawl…

The programme is out, you’ve seen then line up, now it’s time to get reading! Search the catalogue and place those reserves for the authors you are most excited to see and keep an eye out for our special LitCrawl blogs coming soon!

Did someone say prizes?

In the lead up to LitCrawl we will have some tickets and books to give away! Make sure you keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to be in it to win it!

Astounding tales and amazing stories: the best of this month’s Science Fiction releases

by the pricking of her thumb

Astounding tales and amazing stories from universes near and far beckon in this month’s selection of Science Fiction novels. Titles include a very welcome re-release of Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation as well as Chinese Science Fiction master Cixin Liu’s Ball Lightning, in which he explores the ball lightning phenomenon with a personal (and almost obsessional) passion. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe winter vow / Tim Akers.
“Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage between the north and the south. Three heroes–Malcolm and Ian Blakeley and Gwendolyn Adair–must end the bloodshed before chaos is unleashed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverFoundation / Isaac Asimov.
“The first volume in Issac Asimov’s world-famous saga, winner of the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Novel Series. Long after Earth was forgotten, a peaceful and unified galaxy took shape, an Empire governed from the majestic city-planet of Trantor. The system worked, and grew, for countless generations. Everyone believed it would work forever. Everyone except Hari Seldon. FOUNDATION is the story of the First Foundation, on the remote planet of Terminus, from which those secrets were withheld.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverXeelee : redemption / Stephen Baxter.  
“This is the centre of the Galaxy. And in a history without war with the humans, the Xeelee have had time to built an immense structure here. The Xeelee Belt has a radius ten thousand times Earth’s orbital distance. It is a light year in circumference. If it was set in the solar system it would be out in the Oort Cloud, among the comets – but circling the sun. If it was at rest it would have a surface area equivalent to about thirty billion Earths. But it is not at rest: it rotates at near lightspeed. And because of relativistic effects, distances are compressed for inhabitants of the Belt, and time drastically slowed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChercher La Femme / L. Timmel Duchamp.
“Diplomat Julia, a member of a socialistic human society known as the Pax, is the head of a mission to a far-off world, La Femme. The mission’s primary purpose is recovery of the first ship sent to make contact with La Femme’s inhabitants, though further diplomatic advancement is planned as well. Julia is distracted from the mission objectives by her deep analysis of her life thus far and the utopian ideal she lives by, particularly when she deals with her splintered crew.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverThe fated sky / Mary Robinette Kowal.
The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The point / Dixon, John
“Scarlett Winter has always been an outsider, and not only because she’s a hardcore daredevil and born troublemaker–she has been hiding superhuman powers she doesn’t yet understand. Now she’s been recruited by a secret West Point unit for cadets with extraordinary abilities. Scarlett and her fellow students are learning to hone their skills, from telekinetic combat to running recon missions through strangers’ dreamscapes. At The Point, Scarlett discovers that she may be the most powerful cadet of all. With the power to control pure energy, she’s a human nuclear bomb–and she’s not sure she can control her powers much longer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ball lightning / Liu, Cixin
“When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station. The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier in particle physics. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

By the pricking of her thumb : a real-town murder / Roberts, Adam
“Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world’s four richest people may be dead – but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim. Inspired by the films of Kubrick, this stand-alone novel returns to the near-future of The Real-Town Murders, and puts Alma on a path to a world she can barely understand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The future is blue / Valente, Catherynne M.
“Collection of thirteen stories full of fable, fairy tale and myth.” From Hugo award winning author Catherynne M Valente. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Words from Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia: Māori Suffragist

In the 1890s, Māori women seeking the vote fought on two separate fronts; nationally for the New Zealand parliament, and also within Kotahitanga Māori parliament. Many Māori women dedicated themselves to their retaining ancestral lands and sought political power to aid their aims. Between 1886 and 1896, forty petitions around land issues were presented to the New Zealand parliament, signed by Māori women on behalf of themselves or their Iwi..[1]

Historian Tania Rei notes that the Māori women who signed the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) petition appeared to all have pākeha connections.[2] During the 1890s, a number of Māori women worked with both the WCTU and Kotahitanga.[3]

Image of Meri Mangakahia from Wellington Recollect's Trail of Light publication
Image of Meri Mangakāhia from Wellington Recollect’s Trail of Light publication

Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia was an eloquent speaker with excellent organisational flair. In 1893 she helped establish Ngā Kōmiti Wāhine, committees connected to kotahitanga that discussed issues such as family violence, smoking and retaining traditional Māori skills.[4]  She co-authored the significant Māori newspaper column Te Reiri Karamu (‘The Ladies’ Column’) in the Te Tiupiri (The Jubilee.)[5]  

Mangakāhia advocated for Māori women gaining the vote in Kotahintanga, which they eventually did in 1897. Mangakāhia’s connections to the WCTU are unclear, but the organisation’s initials were engraved into her beautiful wooden chest or “parliamentary cabinet”.[6]

Here’s a transcript of her 1893 address to kotahitanga.

 “I move this motion before the principle member and all honourable members so that a law may emerge from this parliament allowing women to vote and women to be accepted as members of the parliament.

Following are my reasons for presenting this motion that women may receive the vote and that there be women members:

  1. There are many women who have been widowed and own much land.
  2. There are many women whose fathers have died and do not have brothers.
  3. There are many women who are knowledgeable of the management of land where their husbands are not.
  4. There are many women whose fathers are elderly, who are also knowledgeable of the management of land and own land.
  5. There have been many male leaders who have petitioned the Queen concerning the many issues that affect us all, however, we have not yet been adequately compensated according to those petitions. Therefore I pray to this gathering that women members be appointed. Perhaps by this course of action we may be satisfied concerning the many issues affecting us and our land. Perhaps the Queen may listen to the petitions if they are presented by her Māori sisters, since she is a woman as well.”[7]

Sadly, considering how influential she was, little information is known about Mangakāhia. As her great-grandniece Emma Frost recently noted in an interview, “Māori women who shaped our nation were very invisible. There wasn’t a lot written about them.”[8]

This year, with Radio NZ coverage, promotion from Members of Parliament and a feature at the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Are We There Yet? exhibit,  it seems we are moving towards Mangakāhia finally getting the recognition she deserves. 

 

References

  1. Tania Rei, Māori Women and the Vote (1993, ) p.13 .
  2. Rei, p.27.
  3. Rei, pp.39-40, 47.
  4. Rei, p.19.
  5. ‘Meri Mangakāhia addresses the Kotahitanga Māori parliament’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/page/meri-mangak%C4%81hia-addresses-kotahitanga-m%C4%81ori-parliament, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 24-Jul-2018
  6. Mana : the Maori news magazine for all New Zealanders, Dec 2007/Jan 2008; n.79: p.76.
  7. Adapted from a translation by Charles Royal in Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams (eds), The book of New Zealand women Ko kui ma te kaupapa, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 1991, p. 413.
  8. RNZ, Emma Frost and Jesse Mulligan,  ‘Unsung Heroes of New Zealand’s Suffrage Movement’ (2018) https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018652496/unsung-heroes-of-new-zealand-s-suffrage-movement

Advance recommendations for great new fiction titles

Rosewater book cover

There are lots of new titles coming in from talented authors in the next few months. That means getting in quick if you want you be reading them soon!

Our advance recommendations for up and coming titles include crime writing and thrillers; titles where political and social values are explored and Science Fiction and fantasy works were the possibilities of the mind and potential realities are explored.

Excitement has been building for the new Haruki Murakami book titled Killing Commendatore which  is due to published 9 October 2018. The new novel, written in homage to the The Great Gatsby, has already been censored in Hong Kong. Opaque wrappers are required wherever the book is for sale or loan, libraries there will only allow borrowing to patrons over 18 years of age.

Already on our library shelves  is the new Kate Atkinson novel, Transcription, along with Belinda Bauer’s Snap. Yet to be published, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver brings together two timelines  in the same location and  focuses on families facing challenges due to changing cultures. Kingsolver’s deft handling of family dynamics and the impacts of change bring this tale to life. Mohammed Hanif delivers two sides to modern conflict with Red Birds. Three times Hugo winner Science Fiction writer N K Jemisin has a new short story collection called How long ’til black future month? which delivers a kaleidoscopic view of her imagination.  Tade Thompson’s  Rosewater, is named after a town, grown up around an alien entity embedded in Nigerian soil. Once a year the biodome surrounding the incomer opens…

See below, for these and more titles, coming soon to a library near you!

Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

Love is Blind [paperback] / Boyd, William
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the 20th century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best loved storytellers.” (Catalogue)

 

Killing Commendatore / Murakami, Haruki/ Gabriel, Philip (TRN)/ Goossen, Ted (TRN)
“The much-anticipated new novel from the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of 1Q84 and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Killing Commendatore is an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art–as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby–and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.” (Catalogue)

 

Bridge of clay. / Zusak, Markus
Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current – of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He’s a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for memory and tragedy. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It’s an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment: A miracle and nothing less.” (Catalogue)

 

Red Birds [paperback] / Hanif, Mohammed
“Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb.  In the camp, teenager Momo’s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind.” (Catalogue)

Unsheltered / Kingsolver, Barbara
“Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred–whether family or friends–and in the strength of the human spirit.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. “Jack’s in charge,” she’d said. “I won’t be long”. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.” (Catalogue)

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, 1) [paperback] / Thompson, Tade
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Catalogue)

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories [paperback] / Jemisin, N K
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises.” (Catalogue)

Lethal White / Galbraith, Robert
“When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story.  Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside. ” (Catalogue)

In a House of Lies / Rankin, Ian
“A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods.  Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case.  Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.” (Catalogue)

Destination: Antipodes 2020 AD

The antipodes are shaping up to be a fine destination in July,August 2020 if you’re keen or vaguely interested in what the SciFi/Speculative fiction/Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Gaming world has to offer. Aotearoa New Zealand is hosting WorldCon 2020.

Guests of honour at Worldcon 2020 are authors Mercedes Lackey and husband Larry Dixon. New Zealand artist Greg Broadmore and current Australian Science fiction foundation president.

Mercedes Lackey has an impressive backlist of titles where worlds and people have come into being. Collaborative work with the likes of Rosemary Edgehill, Robert  Gellis, James Mallory and Andre Norton, makes up a part of this collection. Her prolific fantasy output spans more than three decades of published work.  Some works feature husband Larry Dixon, author in his own right and artist famed for his work with birdlife. Known for detailing particular aspects of her worlds, like the page dedicated to sail making in the new Valdemar work, The Hills have Spies. The library holds a modest 121 titles of this author alone.  These two have paired up for a few conventions before, leaving their oddly shaped home in Oklahoma and collection of creatures to engage and inspire Con goers.


Local talent, Greg Broadmore has brought the appallingly flawed Dr Grordbort’s universe to life through the medium of Graphic Novels and models, some to look at and some to commit hideous acts with.  The art work both on the page and very ineractive real-life ray guns is also heading into the realm of virtual reality with Magic Leap. These are fantastic concepts coming from a detailed well imagined graphic world, great content for the Con.

Rose Mitchell

Rose Mitchell has been awarded Fan Guest of honour for her stirling services to the science fiction community. Rose, a lifelong science fiction fan has been a stalwart at innumerable conferences and is the current President of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation.

For lots more fascinating facts please connect to CoNZealand.

The Vogels: The strange and fascinating story behind NZ’s first ever Science Fiction novel

New Zealand has had a long love affair with Science Fiction starting perhaps with Sir Julius Vogel.
Sir Julius Vogel (1835 –1899) was the eighth Premier of New Zealand, a keen cricketer, partially deaf in one ear, regarded as the father of New Zealand railways, instrumental in the setup of the Otago Daily Times and described in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography as a ‘vastly ambitious’ and ‘clever, impulsive, generous, strong-willed to the point of being domineering.” A politician and entrepreneur who enjoyed the good things in life perhaps to excess. (He suffered badly from gout in later life.)
In his retirement Vogel also wrote New Zealand’s first ever Science Fiction novel published in London in 1889 called “Anno Domini 2000”; or, “Woman’s Destiny” in which poverty had vanished and women held the highest posts in government.

You can read this work by clicking the link below:
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-AnnVoge.html

You can further explore his life  by borrowing the following eBook  from our Overdrive collection:

Syndetics book coverJulius Vogel [electronic resource] / Raewyn Dalziel.
“Julius Vogel dominated New Zealand politics in a way that no man had done before him and few have done since. He was behind the policy that transformed New Zealand from a collection of sparsely settled and isolated provinces into a unified nation, he cultivated trade connections and was an advocate of greater colonial autonomy and equal rights between men and women; he was an optimistic visionary. Raewyn Dalziel’s definitive biography, Julius Vogel: Business Politician, traces both the career and the character of the man.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

To honour this landmark work and achievement, the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention annually awards the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (nicknamed The Vogels”) to “recognise achievement in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, horror, and science fiction fandom “.
The 2018 awards for best novel and best youth novel went to the following works :

Best Novel
Syndetics book coverHounds of the underworld / Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray.
“Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Best Youth Novel

Syndetics book coverThe traitor and the thief / Gareth Ward.
“A thief, a spy and a steampunk showdown at Traitor’s Gate! Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb, together they endeavour to unmask a traitor causing havoc within the palace.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A glorious celebration!

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage 125th anniversary with Wellington fiction authors

Wellington’s female voice. Those who identify as women in Wellington are well represented in our fiction collection. Why celebrate them separately? The ability to effect change begins with expression but channeling that into results means action through legislation in consideration of those views.  The political arena represents it’s voters and the right to vote for women over 21 began in a colonial corner of the world at the tail end of the 1800’s Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are some great tools to understand the lengths people went to in their efforts to secure the vote. The New Zealand history website has a database of those who signed the suffrage petition, you can fine this down to the street you live in to see who lived on your doorstep and agitated for the right to vote.  So looking at early New Zealand authors, Kathleen M. Beauchamp, Katherine Mansfield’s given name was too young to sign. But, search under the Beauchamp family name and Wellington has a single entry. Remember when Katherine Mansfield’s first published story was rediscovered in Wellington Central library?

Current women Wellington authors have a great range of talents, varieties of styles and audience.  These are tales of personal freedom, integrity, flawed individuals, empathy and self discovery from first time authors, poets, artists and experienced writers. Some are highlighted below:

The new animals / Adam, Pip
“Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember — for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millennials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (Catalogue)

Baby / Jochems, Annaleese
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there’s an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship” — Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, dabbled in Alistair Crowley’s druggy occult gatherings and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Catalogue)

The year of falling / Freegard, Janis
“Janis Freegard’s novel is a beguiling urban tale that moves from the hills of Brooklyn, Wellington, to the streets of Iceland via Takaka. Packed with characters who hold the reader to the page, The Year of Falling has the strut and gleam of a fairy tale while not being afraid of the stuff of flesh and blood that makes people act the way they do. A novel to fall into…but beware, you might find it hard to climb out again.” (Catalogue)

 

The chimes / Smaill, Anna
“After the end of a brutal civil war, London is divided, with slums standing next to a walled city of elites. In this alternate London, the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is considered “blasphemy.” But Simon has a unique gift–the gift of retaining memories–that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien’s gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom.” (Catalogue)

The shark party / Colson, Janet
“For Carla, February means the pressure of another birthday party for Nathan and his wealthy New York art world friends. She buys him a book about Kurt Schwitters, an artist he is thinking of collecting, but a chance encounter with a man in the bookstore changes everything. Patrick, an environmental filmmaker, challenges her relationship and her artistic ambition. In the wake of their fierce attraction, the unscrupulous world that has seduced Carla begins to unravel and the harder she tries to break free the tighter Nathan’s grip becomes. Art and illusion, possession and freedom are the heady components of Janet Colson’s psychological drama, The Shark Party.” (Catalogue)

The writers’ festival / Johnson, Stephanie
“Wit, compassion and insight combine in this entertaining novel that explores the politics and human comedy behind writers’ festivals and the publishing industry. 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. ” (Catalogue)

 

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world’s greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave. Fiona Kidman’s enthralling novel delves into the life of this enigmatic woman, exploring mysteries and crafting a fascinating exploration of early flying, of mothers and daughters, and of fame and secrecy.” (Catalogue)

Wellington Girls’ College and Suffrage

The Dux, the Photographer and the Principal


Schools are a focal point for the history of communities — the past and present are bound together by the educational institutions that transmit knowledge between generations. Schools often play important and formative roles in historical movements and in the lives of important New Zealanders. Wellington Girls’ College (known as Wellington Girls’ High School until 1905) is one such hub of activity in our Wellington community.

In the late 19th century, a number of individuals connected with Wellington Girls’ College signed the 1893 suffrage petition, which directly preceded women gaining the vote in New Zealand. Three of these women are profiled below in this article. Their passion for their chosen vocation, their skill and influence on those around them is plain to see. With Suffrage Day on September 19th it is crucial to remember those women and the taonga of life stories.

Wellington Girls' High School, pre-1905
Pre-1905 photo of Wellington Girls’ High School. Calvert, L (Mr), fl 1963 :Postcards. Ref: 1/2-049813-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22790013
Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887
Connolly & Herrmann (Firm). Connolly & Herrmann (Wellington) fl 1887-1889 :Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887. Ref: PA3-0053. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23063637

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant

Above is a studio group portrait of Form VI, Wellington Girls College. Back row standing: Ada F Carrol. Amy Meek. Ethel Maud Wilson. Mary Grubb. Jessie Nairn. Seated from left: Margaret Paterone. Harriet Day. Ella Marchant. Georgina Stack. Photographed by Connolly and Herrmann (Wellington) in 1887.

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant, known as Ella, was a talented and extremely capable pupil of Wellington Girls College. In 1887, she became the dux of her school. Just a few years later, Marchant returned to Wellington Girls College as a teacher whilst also studying extramurally towards a BA and an MA from Canterbury University. In 1893, an ‘E A. Marchant’ signed the suffrage petition, making clear her commitment to extending suffrage to all New Zealanders.

Marchant went onto become the Principal of Otago Girls’ High School where she took an independent and insightful approach on a range of issues (which sometimes brought her into conflict with the board of governors).[1] She had a strong conviction to do the best for her girls. On Saturday nights, the boarders would gather at Marchant’s home to read from her well stocked bookshelf — they especially enjoyed her copies of Charles Dickens.[2] Her untimely death in 1917 curtailed her plans to establish a religious teaching order in Dunedin. The Evening Post noted that Marchant was “an eloquent speaker, and from her wide experience and knowledge often charmed and delighted audiences.”[3]

Louisa Marion Herrmann

In the photograph of Marchant above, it is important to note not just the individuals present, but also the photography business involved in the image.  Louisa Marion Herrmann arrived from the UK in New Zealand aboard the Piako in 1880.  Louisa worked in Wellington as an assistant for Herrmann photography studio on Lambton Quay.[4] She went onto marry Richard Herrmann, one of her employers. After his death in 1892, she took sole charge of the business, and for 16 years she ran the photographic studio, now based on Cuba Street, and employed many workers. Herrmann’s business was described as “the most up-to-date and complete studio in the colonies.”[5]

During this time, Herrmann became an advocate for suffrage by signing the 1893 petition. On her retirement, Herrmann offered for sale 35,000 photographic negatives of New Zealanders. Tragically, we no longer know where these are — at least for now, these images, and their stories, are lost.[6]  As Te Papa staffer Lissa Mitchell recently noted, “it is a sad reflection on New Zealand’s historical record that Louisa’s story of self-determination and resilience and her photographic work have been lost, and a strong reminder of the need to keep including the work and stories of women in our histories.”

Mary Jane McLean

Mary Jane McLean was one of New Zealand’s most significant educationists. Especially later in life, she was a prominent advocate for women’s rights. She signed the 1893 petition and went onto become Principal of Wellington Girls’ College in 1900.

Mary Jane McLean, circa 1925
Mary Jane McLean. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-46. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22693323

McLean was an experienced teacher, but she had to face tough international competition to attain her role. She immediately took an independent approach, making her mark on the school, where her legacies continue to this day. McLean directed Wellington Girls’ College as it expanded from a small school for a wealthy elite into a modern institution with a roll of 850. As the roll swelled, McLean helped establish Wellington East Girls’ College in 1926.

In 1929, after her retirement from education, McLean founded the Women’s Social Progress Movement which campaigned for women’s representation and provided aid and relief during the Depression in the early 1930s. McLean demonstrated a lifelong passionate commitment to improving the position of women, and Wellington remained McLean’s home till she passed away in 1946. Today, the year 13 Wellington Girls’ College prize for first in physical education is named after McLean.[7]

Marchant, Herrmann and McLean are just three of the signatories to the 1893 petition. All in all, thirteen separate petitions carried the signatures of 31,872 women. On the 19th of September, let’s celebrate all of those women with their unique lives, impressive achievements and their lasting influences upon us today.

Come along to Suffrage Day celebrations

We’ll be celebrating Suffrage Day at the Central Library on the 19th September. Come along and help us celebrate!

Library Planned activities

From 10am-2pm, you can:

  1. Have fun experiencing the times with our photo booth
  2. Try your hand at making a celebration camellia or badge
  3. Write some messages about what being able to vote means to you
  4. Watch a historical film (screenings are on the 1st floor)

Electoral Commission staff will also be with us from 12-2pm help you register for the electoral roll and answer any questions you have about voting in the present day!

Find out more about our celebrations

Kate Sheppard Ride

Another event happening in the city, is the Kate Sheppard Ride — see details below from the organisers:

Dress to impress and get your wheels spinning by joining us at 1.30pm on Saturday, 22 September 2018 (wet weather day will be the next day) at Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave Street. The Suffrage 125 bicycle ride will take you through the streets of old Thorndon and Wellington’s CBD.

Date: Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Time: 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Cost: 1 x Kate Sheppard $10 note
Location: Old St Paul’s, 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon ,Wellington

Learn more

Maori women and the vote / Rei, Tania
“In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Māori women were involved in two suffrage movements at the same time. Māori women supported the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in seeking the right to vote for members of the New Zealand House of Representatives, and they also sought the right to vote and to stand as members of the Māori Parliament – Te Kotahitanga. By the turn of the century both these goals had been achieved. Their involvement in the suffrage movements was a significant development in the story of Māori women and the ways in which they organised at a national level to deal with issues of importance to them and their communities.” (Summary from the Royal Society – Te Apārangi)

Read online with Bridget Williams BooksThe Women’s Suffrage Petition = Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, 1893.
“In May 2017 the exhibition He Tohu opened at the National Library in Wellington. This celebrates three founding documents in New Zealand’s history – He Whakaputanga: The Declaration of Independence (1835), the Treaty of Waitangi: Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840) and the Women’s Suffrage Petition (1893). The originals of these documents are on display at the National Library, in a wonderful exhibition that tells the history of the times and the story of the documents themselves.” (Library Catalogue)

Women’s suffrage in New Zealand / Grimshaw, Patricia
“First published in 1972, Patricia Grimshaw’s account of the New Zealand suffrage movement remains the definitive study of New Zealand’s radical role as the first country in the world to give women the vote. In clear, lively prose, this revised edition tells the fascinating story of the courage and determination early New Zealand feminists demonstrated, focusing particularly on the remarkable leadership of Kate Sheppard, whose ideas remain relevant today.” (Catalogue)

References


  1. Te Ara online
  2. NZ History online
  3. DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN TEACHER, Evening Post, Volume XCVIII, Issue 119, 17 November 1919
  4. ‘L M Herrmann’, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Aug-2018
  5. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  6. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  7. Information courtesy of Wellington Girls’ College Library

Special thanks to Ann Reweti for the blog concept and the research notes that she compiled.