Thursday, October 23, 2008

All talked out.

Wednesday turned out to be a helluva busy day, with the usual motherly things and then Channel 9 Television's Dunedin Diary book reviews at 5.00pm and then giving a talk at the Dunedin Public Library at 7.30pm. Toss a migraine into the mix and I was rather knackered by the end of it.

So for those who watched the telly, and or came to the library talk (bless you) I apologise if I was a bit vague and gabbley. I did get to trot out my new frock for the library talk, because I thought at least if I feel like death, I can at least try and look like death warmed up.

My Mum was sitting in the front row - she's holidaying with us, down from Napier - so she finally got to hear me speak and give away all our family secrets. She didn't heckle me too much.

The purpose of the talk was to mark the centenary of the Dunedin Public Library, and I got to share the billing with the wonderful Jackie Ballantyne. We've tag teamed before, and really enjoy doing a double act. We were both delighted to receive, as a thank you gift, the newly minted Freedom to Read: A Centennial History of Dunedin Public Library by Mary Ronnie.

Here are my notes for the books I reviewed on Dunedin Diary. This is what I would have said if not distracted by Dougal Stevenson, migraine headaches, nerves and a dodgy memory.

A Year to learn a Woman, by Paddy Richardson

Claire Wright is a freelance writer and is commissioned to write a biography of notorious serial sex offender Travis Crill, which she accepts, despite heavy reservations because of the nice pay check, thinking that it will help set herself and her daughter up financially. Crill is incarcerated for his crimes and seems, on the surface a perfectly normal man from a happy upbringing. As Claire digs into his past she becomes completely absorbed by Travis Crill, trying to understand how this man became such a chilling criminal, to the point it starts to impact severely upon her own life.

Claire’s teenage daughter Annie is facing issues of her own with an all-absorbing friendship with the new girl at school, Savannah, whose manipulations start to pull apart her relationships with friends and her completely obsessed mother.

This comparison of what’s happening in the lives of Mother and Daughter, the differences and the similarities are what make this book a terrific read. It’s about isolation, physical and emotional and manipulation, and it’s one of those wonderful creepy books that make you squirm and feel uncomfortable on so many levels.

Presenting New Zealand: An illustrated history. By Philip Temple

This is a fact filled and fascinating history of New Zealand and is a new edition of Presenting New Zealand, which has been re-illustrated with historic photographs and paintings.

What I really liked about this book is that it gives the geological and social history of New Zealand region by region, and by doing so shows how very differently each area developed depending on the resources they had, harshness of climate and accessibility.
It gives a great overview of the Maori history of each region and then the effects of colonisation, farming, the gold rushes, the many things that shaped our nation.

The new illustrations and photographs are terrific and I felt, in particular the paintings of early settlers, and the view of New Zealand through their eyes was interesting.

This is a great book for anyone wanting to get an informative overview of our rich history, in a compact and very readable book.


The Paradoxical Cat said...

She looked gorgeous folks, in a lovely summery flouncy green dress with a purple flower pattern and colour-coordinated little short-sleeved purple cardy thing. Totally up to the minute fashion and looking good with matching bouncy hair as well.

And it was a fascinating talk too, very interesting and covered all the bases. What a professional. And the crowd were hanging on every word - well, except for Mum that is. A tough audience that one...

I can see you setting out on international book tours before you know it Vanda!

P x

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks PC, it was great to see your friendly face in the audience.

I have to say I did feel quite posh in my frock.