Cover for The Vanishing Point, spotlighted against a backdrop of a museum gallery

“Mirror of the King”: New fiction on our shelves

Book cover: The vanishing point by Andrea Hotere

“Mirror of the King.”

Our recently acquired general fiction titles feature a number of wonderful and diverse New Zealand / Aotearoa titles which you can view below. One which caught our particular attention was The vanishing point by Andrea Hotere.

The vanishing point revolves around just a few of the mysteries surrounding one of the world’s most famous paintings — Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, or ‘The Ladies-in-Waiting’, sometimes referred to as ‘Mirror of the King’.

The painting itself hangs in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, and is one of the most enigmatic, mysterious and most talked about works of art of all time. It is superbly painted with almost photographic detail, featuring numerous objects and a large cast of figures in its composition — a true masterpiece. Many of these elements and details raise questions in themselves, however it is the questions it raises about reality and illusion and the relationship between the figures in the composition and outside viewers that has fascinated admirers and writers on art for centuries. As if that weren’t enough, there is also fierce speculation that the mathematics used in its composition are in fact actually a secret code by the artist.

In The Vanishing Point, Andrea Hotere takes some of the fascinating factual mysteries surrounding the painting and runs with them, creating a brilliant literary puzzle in a similar vein to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

The vanishing point / Hotere, Andrea
“Set against the backdrop of London in 1991 and Madrid in 1656 the novel follows the lives of two women, Alex Johns and the Infanta Margarita, who are connected by a quest to unravel the enigmatic secrets within an iconic painting.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook – The Vanishing Point

What you are looking for is in the library : a novel / Aoyama, Michiko
“What are you looking for? So asks Tokyo’s most enigmatic librarian. For Sayuri Komachi is able to sense exactly what each visitor to her library is searching for and provide just the book recommendation to help them find it. A restless retail assistant looks to gain new skills, a mother tries to overcome demotion at work after maternity leave, a conscientious accountant yearns to open an antique store, a recently retired salaryman searches for newfound purpose. In Komachi’s unique book recommendations they will find just what they need to achieve their dreams. What You Are Looking For Is in the Library is about the magic of libraries and the discovery of connection. This inspirational tale shows how, by listening to our hearts, seizing opportunity and reaching out, we too can fulfill our lifelong dreams. Which book will you recommend?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook – What you are looking for is in the library

The young pretender ; or the dramatic return of Master Betty / Arditti, Michael
“Mobbed by the masses, lionised by the aristocracy, courted by royalty and lusted after by patrons of both sexes, the child actor William Henry West Betty was one of the most famous people in Georgian Britain. At the age of thirteen, he played leading roles, including Romeo, Macbeth and Richard III, in theatres across the country. Prime Minister William Pitt adjourned the House of Commons so that its members could attend his debut as Hamlet at Covent Garden. Then, as rivals turned on him and scandal engulfed him, he suffered a fall as merciless as his rise had been meteoric. The Young Pretender takes place during Betty’s attempted comeback at the age of twenty-one. As he seeks to relaunch his career, he is forced to confront the painful truths behind his boyhood triumphs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The figurine / Hislop, Victoria
“When Helena inherits her grandparents’ apartment in Athens, she is overwhelmed with memories of the summers she spent there as a child, when Greece was under a brutal military dictatorship. Her remote, cruel grandfather was one of the regime’s generals and as she sifts through the dusty rooms, Helena discovers an array of valuable objects and antiquities. How did her grandfather amass such a trove? What human price was paid for them? Helena’s desire to find answers about her heritage dovetails with a growing curiosity for archaeology, ignited by a summer spent with volunteers on a dig on an Aegean island. Their finds fuel her determination to protect the precious fragments recovered from the baked earth – and to understand the origins of her grandfather’s collection.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Julia : a novel / Newman, Sandra
“London, chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceana. It’s 1984 and Julia Worthing works as a mechanic fixing the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. Under the ideology of IngSoc and the rule of the Party and its leader Big Brother, Julia is a model citizen – cheerfully cynical, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. Everyone likes Julia. A diligent member of the Junior Anti-Sex League (though she is secretly promiscuous) she knows how to survive in a world of constant surveillance, Thought Police, Newspeak, Doublethink, child spies and the black markets of the prole neighbourhoods…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook – Julia: a novel

Emergency Weather / Jones, Tim
“Emergency Weather is a powerful, prescient and compelling climate change thriller set in Aotearoa / New Zealand and more precisely the Wellington region. The novel focusses on three very different people who have to face the climate crisis head-on, when a giant storm builds and then hits our capital city.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The modern / Blair, Anna Kate
“In an age driven by desire, what happens when you want two different things? Set in the pristine, precarious world of MoMA, The Modern is a brilliantly wry and insightful debut about art, sexuality, commitment and whether being on the right path can lead to the wrong place. Things seem to be working out for Sophia in New York: having come from Australia to be at the centre of modernity, she’s working at the Museum of Modern Art, living in a great apartment with a boyfriend interviewing for Ivy League teaching positions. They’re smart, serious, dine in the right restaurants and have (a little unexpectedly) become engaged just before he leaves to hike the Appalachian Trail…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook – The modern.

The dressmaker & the hidden soldier / Gold, Doug
“A prisoner of war’s daring escape from a speeding train … a Greek resistance heroine’s fateful decision to harbour the fugitive … and a young dressmaker’s curiosity spark a chain of events that has consequences none of them could ever have imagined. The Dressmaker & the Hidden Soldier is based on the extraordinary true story of Peter Blunden, the New Zealand soldier, and Thalia Christidou, the young Greek dressmaker, and Tasoula Paschilidou, the resistance heroine. What follows is an epic love story set in a country under Hitler’s oppressive regime. With the Nazis closing in, Peter makes another courageous escape, Thalia is threatened by betrayal, and Tasoula is sent to a concentration camp. Will Tasoula survive? What will become of Peter and Thalia’s undeclared love?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook – The dressmaker and the hidden soldier.