A lovely story for summer
Gabriel’s Bay — Catherine Robertson (Black Swan, $38) reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books
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.