Bay of Plenty Times

Second novel from impressive author

- — Jill Nicholas ■ Copies available from shop@mcleodsboo­ or the author rsmchriste­

The Cousins by Robert Christense­n, self published by Your Books, $30 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

The Cousins is this author’s second book and comes impressive­ly soon after its predecesso­r, Danish Blood.

That introduced us to the Knud Jensen family as it grew in Denmark’s Jutland province from the 1840s onward. As time progressed they forged a link with New Zealand as some became pioneer settlers.

The saga’s newest instalment centres around first cousins, Thor and Elise-marie. He’s a seafaring adventurer. She’s aptly described on the back cover blurb as a “Viking warrior who burns many souls”.

We last met Thor in the early part of the 20th century when he’d jumped ship in Wellington after a slew of exploits on land and sea. He’s now married with a growing family. His wife Christina’s from Mellemskov, the Danish settlement, now renamed Eketahuna.

Not a man of the land, Thor’s unable to adapt, returns to Wellington and establishe­s a shipping line of fluctuatin­g fortunes.

Undeterred by the geographic­al distance between them, globetrott­ing Elise-marie continues to lust after him. There’s something of the mythologic­al siren about her as she lures him back to her. She arrives unannounce­d in New Zealand.

No love’s lost between Elsie-marie and Christina. They openly fight over him. Elisemarie’s

vanquished but vows to meet him again. She does — in Denmark.

That’s the barest of bones of this rip-snorter of a tale. Christense­n excels juggling an assortment of story lines.

His characteri­sation of Elise-marie as a leader of occupied Denmark’s resistance movement is a standout piece of creative writing.

Christense­n’s proof it doesn’t pay to be snooty about the quality of work of those who bypass establishe­d publishers and do the job themselves. Like others, he’s found it’s the simplest route to establishi­ng a reputation as a writer with wide appeal.

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