Tag Archives: New Zealand

Wake

By Elizabeth Knox

Well. Wrap your eyeballs around this novel. I finished reading Wake last night and it was a really unpredictable read. The novel centres around the 13 survivors (plus a mysterious 14th) of a strange madness/sickness that struck the small coastal settlement of Kahukura near Nelson. At first I thought it was really disjointed, that I didn’t know what was going on as it jumped from character to character, just like the characters in the novel … then had the well, duh moment! The reader doesn’t know what’s going on because the characters don’t know what’s going on.

It’s about death, it’s about survival, about how people cope or don’t cope in horrific situations. A word to the squeamish, it can be a bit grizzly in parts. So it’s like Elizabeth Knox’s novels in that it is set in ordinary, everyday settings where major other worldly things happen.

Would I recommend it. Absolutely. It was a quick read for me, and would have been quicker if I hadn’t been reading two books. I like to read a book on the train and something funny or “non-stressful” before bed … although I have been reading Terry Pratchett at night and he can be funny but deep. I belted through Wake as I have belted through all of Elizabeth Knox’s novels, except Black Oxen. I was at a Book Council event where Elizabeth Knox said that she was most (and I am paraphrasing here) proud of was Black Oxen. Didn’t really grab me … the different parts felt too different. Mind you, I haven’t finished it, and I was reading it when I was a very new mother during those early morning feeds, so I really should finish it before I pass too hard a judgement.

Elizabeth Knox talks about Wake in her blog.

The cover art actually depicts scenes from the novel, and was illustrated by Dylan Horrocks, the creator of Hicksville.

Cover art for WakeCover of Wake by Elizabeth Knox

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Access Road

By Maurice Gee

I really love Maurice Gee’s work, for both adults and children.   I feel no different about Access Road.    Gee is a good writer, who in this tale weaves our recent history, the present, and a sense of foreboding.

For me Access Road was pleasurable and sort-of slightly sad.   Rowan is writing this story in the present day.   She reminisces about her 1940’s and 1950’s childhood and youth in the West Auckland suburb of Loomis  (Henderson?).   Gee vividly portrays life back in our recent path.   How do I know?   It is the near past of my family.   The family stories of my parents and grandparents are set in the West Auckland of this era.   So it is sad, because my grandparents have all gone now.   We have no physical ties to WA, only our memories.

And back to the story.   As I said, elderly Rowan is writing the events about the events of the present, and into this story weaving in related events from her past.   Rowan regularly visits her brothers who are back living in their childhood home in Loomis.   Lionel, the elder brother, is bedridden, but not by his physical illnesses.   Rory, the younger brother, has come back to care for Lionel.   We follow Rowan’s journey to find out why Lionel became a recluse and what memories have crippled him.   We constantly hear of the creepy Clyde Buckley, a once a childhood friend of Lionel’s.   Is he part of Lionel’s problem?   Read this book to find out more!

Here’s a big long Stuff interview with Gee, on Access Road.