Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Between the Covers

Tonight was TV reviews time on Channel 9's Dunedin Diary programme with Dougal Stevenson. I tell you, it was a might nippy out there today, with snow and hail happening. Auckland seemed positively tropical by comparison.

I reviewed two books on tonight's programme, and these are my notes on what I intended to say. Naturally, what came out of my mouth was modified by nerves and my appalling memory.

The First Touch of Light By Ruth Pettis

The First Touch of Light is the second novel by the late Ruth Pettis. In the modern day Beth travels to Italy in an attempt to understand her father’s experiences during the Second World War, and thus more about him, his reactions and his deep seated anger. It switches back to the stories of her parents, Ellen and George who were married days before George left to fight in the war. It shows beautifully the perspectives of those who went, and those left behind. We learn about the hardships and trauma George had to face overseas, and of his decision to stop contact with his new bride. We learn of how hard it was at home for Ellen, to always be waiting, wondering if he was dead or alive, and we learn of the tumult that occured when after the war they were thrown back together, as very different people, to resume their lives.
This is a deeply and vividly told story that illustrates so well the emotional wrestling and pain that was part of the lives of individuals and families during the war. I highly recommend it.

The Madonna in The Suitcase By Huberta Hellendoorn

This is the touching story of Huberta’s daughter Miriam, who was born with Down Syndrome and is written as a Mother telling her daughter the story of her life, from her parents’ arrival in New Zealand from Holland as young immigrants, to her beginnings, to her triumphs and her tragedies. Huberta is honest about the challenges of raising a child with Down Syndrome, and also the joys, and she achieves this in a beautiful way without being overly sentimental. The end result is we see Miriam’s spirit and determination, from her wonderful gift for art, to her courage in recovering from a stroke. It has many photographs, and also colour plates of Miriam’s paintings. The picture on the cover is Miriam’s Madonna from the title.
I recommend it as a heart-warming story of a family’s joy and love of their child, and her development as a unique human being.

1 comment:

Mary McCallum said...

Vanda - I loved The First Touch of Light, very much. You would love de Goldi's 10 PM Question with your little ones... X