A lovely story for sum­mer

Gabriel’s Bay — Cather­ine Robert­son (Black Swan, $38) re­viewed by Louise Ward, War­dini Books

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

In the book­shops, the re­sponse to the ques­tion ‘What do you fancy read­ing?’ is of­ten met with, ‘Oh, just a lovely story.’ Af­ter gone girls, girls in spi­der’s webs, girls (and boys) mys­te­ri­ously miss­ing, beau­ti­fully writ­ten but heart wrench­ing tales of abuse and re­demp­tion we now have…a lovely story. Thank you, Cather­ine Robert­son.

Young English­man Kerry Mac­far­lane has run away from his botched re­la­tion­ship in the UK and pitched up in a small sea­side town in New Zealand. Its web­site makes it sound idyl­lic and pros­per­ous. What he finds is a small town with strug­gling solo par­ents, can­tan­ker­ous lo­cals, bare­foot scruffy chil­dren, a less than for­ward-think­ing pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety, an em­ployer who ex­pected a girl be­cause Kerry is a girl’s name and a dark shadow hang­ing over some of the town’s rest­less young men. Not what he bar­gained for. He also finds the po­ten­tial for love, pur­pose and friendship. But first he needs to prove him­self.

What makes this a novel to rec­om­mend is the rounded, love­able char­ac­ters, the sense of community in a time where small towns and lo­cal economies can strug­gle with­out the next big idea. If you want a read to ab­sorb you in the lives of oth­ers where you can pos­si­bly recog­nise your­self, your friends and the peo­ple you don’t like but try to tol­er­ate, this is the finest sum­mer read you can pick up. Have fun in Gabriel’s Bay.

■ Cather­ine Robert­son is com­ing to Have­lock North for the Read­ers and Writ­ers sec­tion of the Hawkes Bay Arts Fes­ti­val. To­gether with Tina Clough she will dis­cuss her writ­ing in a ses­sion called Rebel Girls, Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 21, 10am in the Spiegel­tent.

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