A romance, a family saga, and a story about friendship, centred on the Clarke family of Twin Pines farm and their lives, loves and tragedies over theA romance, a family saga, and a story about friendship, centred on the Clarke family of Twin Pines farm and their lives, loves and tragedies over the years.
The two main characters, Paul and Joanne, begin the story miles apart - geographically and socially. In fact, they don't meet until a good way into the book. But by then, we have come to know each of them so well that their meeting is thick with meaning and significance. Both have experienced tragedy and pain: Paul's family history is weighed down with dark secrets and violence, and the cycle threatens to repeat itself in his own unhappy youthful marriage. In contrast, Joanne's life seems on the surface to be blessed with privilege and success, but in reality is emotionally bleak, until even the superficial gloss collapses and she is left with almost nothing.
The most powerful part of the novel involves Joanne's friendship with Sandy, a wild, ferociously independent young woman whose carefree life is abruptly turned upside down. Their friendship is compelling and the painful emotional journey they share felt raw and real, moving me to tears more than once. Sandy is the catalyst who transforms the lives of those around her; but she is also a frightened, angry, believable human being struggling to deal with the harsh cards she's been dealt. It's heartfelt stuff, and for me it formed the emotional core of the story.
Thankfully, amid all this tragedy and intensity, there are also plenty of likable characters, acts of kindness and decency, and of course a simmering love story. Another aspect I particularly enjoyed was the novel's rich, affectionate portrait of farming life (and, later, of the Waiheke vineyards). The practical details of farming, fishing, boats and restaurants all form part of this patchwork quilt; physical work is enjoyed and celebrated, landscapes are explored. At its best, Carlton's writing brings the intimate texture of the characters' lives to life through these prosaic everyday details.
If you enjoy the romance and/or family saga genres (and don't mind a few rough edges), I recommend you give The Quilt a try. And I'm looking forward to more from Rochelle Carlton....more
To my surprise, this is one of my favourite versions of D&D ever. A consolidation of all that's come before, rather than a radical departure. BeauTo my surprise, this is one of my favourite versions of D&D ever. A consolidation of all that's come before, rather than a radical departure. Beautifully done....more
Was clearly written quickly and occasionally feels a bit rushed, but all that is quite understandable. Full of fascinating detail and taken as a wholeWas clearly written quickly and occasionally feels a bit rushed, but all that is quite understandable. Full of fascinating detail and taken as a whole pulls back the curtain to reveal some of the seedier back alleys of NZ politics. More than anything, I hope plenty of National Party supporters read it - especially those people I know personally, who would be appalled by what is going on. Even the tone of the emails and discussions revealed would be enough to outrage many, not to mention the realisation that some of our own local MPs got into parliament partly through the underhanded efforts of people like Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater. The chapter that shifted my reaction from curiosity to deep fury was the section on corporate lobbyists' involvement with and funding of the right wing attack blogs - which amounts to significant amounts of money, ghost writing of posts and even extensive commenting under assumed names. Realising how much time, money and effort is going into covert manipulation of online discussion by corporate interests and very nasty right wing professional political "consultants" left me utterly appalled. The specific revelations of deception and unethical behaviour by members of the current government are, of course, damning and well documented, and important. But the book is well worth reading aside from all that, as an insight into some of the toxic elements at work in our political landscape. The same people, ideologies and tactics appear again and again in NZ politics over the last 10-20 years, and if we don't want them to weaken our democracy and turn NZ into a copy of America's corrupt and broken system, we need to recognise and understand what they are and how they work. This book is essential reading....more