The Ital­ian ad­ven­ture con­tin­ues

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

My Ital­ian Des­tiny is a hand­some look­ing book, and evoca­tively il­lus­trated. The mem­oir is an af­fec­tion­ate ac­count of how fam­i­lies, in­ter­twined by fate, still main­tain in­ter­gen­er­a­tional con­nec­tions.

Au­thor Lynn Kirk­land is bet­ter known for found­ing Ash­hurst’s The Herb Farm, but for the last 10 years she has been work­ing on an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ac­count of her early life.

The story re­ally be­gins be­fore then, dur­ing World War II with Lynn’s father Bob Rogers, who was serv­ing in the Bri­tish army. It was pub­li­ca­tion of her father’s book Sixty Bonus Years that prompted her to tell an­other episode of her fam­ily’s story.

‘‘Dad was cap­tured at El Alamein, and was aboard the Nino Bixio with 500 al­lied pris­on­ers when it was tor­pe­doed by a Bri­tish sub­ma­rine. It was ter­ri­ble. Ev­ery day he lived af­ter that was a bonus.’’

While her father ob­vi­ously sur­vived, oth­ers were not so lucky, in­clud­ing the first hus­band of Lynn’s even­tual mother, who had be­friended Bob aboard the ill­fated ship.

‘‘War is bru­tal . . . but some­times won­der­ful things hap­pen as a re­sult of it.’’

Es­cap­ing Ital­ian cus­tody, Bob was on the lam in north Italy be­fore be­ing taken in by a fam­ily in the vil­lage of Gaina. Lynn vis­ited the vil­lage when she 14, and again when she was 21 in 1973. On that oc­ca­sion, she be­came en­gaged to Gio­vanni, grand­son of the vil­lagers who had shel­tered her father.

While Gio­vanni went into the army for two years com­pul­sory mil­i­tary train­ing, Lynn re­turned to New Zealand wear­ing an en­gage­ment ring.

To find out how things turned out like they did, you’ll have to get hold of Lynn’s book. My Ital­ian Des­tiny is hav­ing its pub­lic launch next Wed­nes­day at 7pm in the Ash­hurst Li­brary fol­low­ing a pri­vate ses­sion last week at The Herb Farm to cel­e­brate Lynn’s 65th birth­day.

‘‘I’m re­ally happy it’s in print, and I’m thrilled to see so many pho­tos. I love cap­tur­ing im­ages ev­ery­where I go.’’

Lynn and her fam­ily ar­rived in New Zealand as ‘10-pound poms’ aboard the

Cap­tain Cook, and Lynn took a lot of pho­tos us­ing a good ol’ box brownie.

Some of those pics have made it into the book – which is get­ting an Ital­ian edi­tion, by the way.

There is also the prom­ise of a se­quel. Hope­fully it won’t take Lynn an­other 10 years to write.

‘‘War is bru­tal . . . but some­times won­der­ful things hap­pen as a re­sult of it.’’ Lynn Kirk­land au­thor

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Lyn Kirk­land of the Herb Farm,with her mem­oir ‘My Ital­ian Des­tiny’. The wall­pa­per be­hind her is a repli­ca­tion of the pho­to­graph that adorns the cover.

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