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The Book Of Secrets

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  89 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
This historical novel recounts the life of Norman McLeod, a charismatic but domineering Scottish preacher who led a party of highlanders into exile after the clearances in Scotland. After settling in Nova Scotia and building ships, they travel to Australia, then on to New Zealand, settling in Waipu, in Northland. McLeod is a tyrant, whose behavior is challenged by three ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published January 18th 1988 by William Heinemann Australia (first published 1987)
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Behind the Hood by Marita A. HansenThe Bone People by Keri HulmePhenomena by Susan TarrThe Whale Rider by Witi IhimaeraMister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Books By New Zealand Authors
117th out of 622 books — 295 voters
The Bone People by Keri HulmeMister Pip by Lloyd JonesThe Book of Fame by Lloyd JonesThe Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth KnoxPlumb by Maurice Gee
New Zealand Book Awards - Fiction
36th out of 45 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

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Wendy Jackson
Jul 12, 2016 Wendy Jackson rated it really liked it
Definitely a thought-provoking book, but perhaps it resonates because the migrants in the story followed a similar path as my ancestors (and me): Scotland, Canada, New Zealand (no Australian stops for my lineage though). Elements of the book that stood out: the abject poverty in Scotland before departure, the extreme hardship upon arriving as colonists in Canada and New Zealand, the miserable and tough lives of women, and the damaging role of religion.
steph
Nov 05, 2009 steph rated it it was amazing
one of my all time favs
i love her relationship with the old grey cat
old cats are the best
Antony Millen
“Nova Scotia had transplanted itself to the New Zealand soil so easily you wouldn’t believe it.” – Fiona Kidman, THE BOOK OF SECRETS

One idea I’ve had for a writing project is to create a narrative around the migration of Nova Scotians to Waipu Cove in 1853. Recently, I discovered this had already been done by celebrated New Zealand author, Dame Fiona Kidman, this year’s judge of the NZSA Central Districts short story competition. It was my entry into the competition that prompted me to look into
...more
Kathleen Dixon
This historical novel follows the lives of three generations of women, Isabella, Annie, and Maria, and takes us from Scotland in 1812 to Nova Scotia, and finally to Waipu (a little south of Auckland, New Zealand) where the book ends in 1953.

Their lives are full of hardship - Isabella, who marries a labourer and shares his life as a kelp gatherer until they leave for Nova Scotia under the leadership of the charismatic McLeod; Annie, Isabella's daughter who marries a farmer and they then follow M
...more
Donna Blaber
May 21, 2013 Donna Blaber rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago, shortly after we moved to Waipu where we remained for some six or so years. It's a riveting tale by a talented writer and it gives great insight into the history of the township and its cultural makeup. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical reading and/or as background reading for anyone who intends travelling in New Zealand, particularly in Northland.
Philippa
Dec 14, 2013 Philippa rated it liked it
This book gives some insight into the Scottish settlers of Waipu, why they left Scotland, then Nova Scotia to finally end up at Waipu. Norman McLeod is comes out as a thoroughly unpleasant man, but he must have had huge charisma too. A tad dreary at times, and a bit disjointed.
Tracy
Sep 24, 2013 Tracy rated it liked it
How distressingly captivating her life must have been. To have lived do long with the ghosts and abandonment.
Anna Claire
Aug 05, 2011 Anna Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a haunting sort of book, witha fabulous eery illustration on the glossy front cover. I judged the book by it's cover, and loved it.
Jan
Sep 30, 2013 Jan rated it it was amazing
I was fascinated to discover the museum (and the cemetary) at Waipu, and the stories of Norman McLeod. This book has me rethinking a few things - I need to go back...
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Ann-marie O'brien
Feb 27, 2014 Ann-marie O'brien rated it liked it
Interesting book where the tale ends in New Zealand.
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Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet. Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society. She has published a large and exciting range of fiction and poetry, and has worked as a librarian, producer and critic. Kidman has won numerous awards, and she has been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other ...more
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