What we're reading

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

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?

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