What we're reading

Karen, Rita, Ku and Prem occasionally muse on books they have just read

Monday, July 10, 2006


Responsibility is Nigel Cox's most recent novel. Last year I read Tarzan Presley, the most implausible concoction ever and found it hugely entertaining and at times, thought provoking. The copyright battle fought over it with Edgar Rice Burroughs estate is another story entirely!

Responsibility is in more serious mode, although with that same quirky sense of humour (cliches of detective novels sweetly mocked), and also occasional Kiwi references (curious as to how these make sense for overseas readers). The story is set in Berlin, and Cox has drawn on his own work experience for the context of the story. Midlife crisis (why are so many of the books I read about this?) in the context of the glittering glamour of risk and danger forces Martin Rumsfield to question his responsibility in various ways, including friend, husband and father.

Brief comments from professional reviewers which I am NOT! See the Dominion Post interview for his positive take on his terminal cancer. I look forward to reading his next book, which he is editing at the moment - a Western.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The captive wife

In a moment of enthusiasm, borrowed all the contenders for the NZ Montana book awards, fiction section, from the library. So have spent the holidays making a start on these.

Fiona Kidman is a well known Kiwi writer (well, well-known in NZ!) I haven't read much of her at all, but enjoyed this book. It is based on a true story of a woman who was captured and lived with a Maori tribe for a while when NZ was just starting to be settled by the Pakeha. (Interesting word - settled. Does this suggest that all was chaos and the West had a 'settling' influence? Or am I excessively PC aware?)More plot details if you're interested. I don't think you would have to know much about early NZ history to enjoy this book - I certainly don't!

The book had less about the living with the tribe, and more to do with events before and after her capture from the perspective of life in Sydney society, and also the whaling stations set up round Cook Strait, from where she was kidnapped. There were three perspectives on the story, the wife (who was telling her story), the friend she told it to, and her husband's journal. This latter was the weakest part I felt. For insightful details about the writing, themes etc.

Overall, I felt it was a good read, convincing story, with at the essence the question of at what point did the wife (variously called Elizabeth, Betsy, Betty and Peti) become a captive?