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The Strength of Eggshells

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  30 ratings  ·  15 reviews
New Zealand literary fiction with a part historical setting.

Kate sets out on a motorbike to find her past. Why does her mother Jane only communicate through poetry? What became of her grandmother Meredith who travelled up the Whanganui River on a paddle steamer to marry a returned soldier in an ill-fated valley beyond the Bridge to Nowhere? And what should Kate do about h
Paperback, 1st Edition, 274 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Cloud Ink Press Ltd
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Marcus Hobson
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-zealand
What a remarkable first novel. This is such good storytelling and great writing. There are three stories weaving through the book, three generations of women from the same family, all looking for one-another.
In the present day, Kate has many insecurities about herself. At six feet tall she is constantly self-conscious, but her escape is to go hard on her motorbike. She knows almost nothing about her mother Jane. We hear Jane’s story from Dr Bean, the Medical Officer at a mental hospital. Jane c
Helen McNeil
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put it down. I loved Kate, the kick-ass six foot tall heroine. I loved Ursula with her flouncy dresses and her anguish about who she really is. I loved Meredith, the pioneering grandmother of Kate who wound up in the Mangapurua Valley before the Bridge to Nowhere was built. It's a must read, fast paced but not sacrificing depth of characters. Enjoy. ...more
Mar 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Outstanding debut novel. The stories of the three women of different generations are woven seamlessly together, the mystery of Kate’s parentage a thread which isn’t resolved until the very end.

It’s beautifully written, so many vivid images and descriptions. These passages, for example:

Looking back now it seemed to Meredith that Aunt Gwyneth’s impending death had really just been about reducing the pillows. The clock ticked as the patient sank further down in the bed. The last pillow
Karen R
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this novel, the stories of the characters, from different time periods melded beautifully and drew you in - always wanting to learn more about their lives and eager for the character chapters to surface again to draw the story threads and build connections.
Felicity Price
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Writing about some of the most striking, unusual and out-of-the-way places in New Zealand to reveal their human truth, and why they deserve a place in our hearts, resonates deeply. It’s evident, from the way she writes about the historic settlement in a remote valley up the Whanganui River, that author Kirsty Powell was so haunted by it, she was driven to write her debut novel and set it there.. Visiting the remote location of Burnett’s Face on the Denniston Plateau near Westport had the same ef ...more
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another in a long line of amazing family saga novels out of New Zealand, THE STRENGTH OF EGGSHELLS is the debut novel of Kirsty Powell.

A tale of the women of three generations of one family, this novel is the story of discovery, understanding and acceptance.

In the present day Kate is self-conscious about her height, and unsure of her background, and the circumstances of her birth mother Jane's residency in a mental hospital. Jane's story is told mostly by the Medical Officer there, Dr Bean, Jane
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nz
Kate has grown up in rural North Waikato, adopted into a farming family and with very little knowledge about her parentage other than that her mother died while a patient at Kingseat when she was a baby.

When we meet her, she’s living in Auckland, having a quarter-life crisis that’s affecting her work as a teacher, and in a complicated love/hate dependent relationship with her best friend Ian - sober professional by day, and glamourous, straight-talking Ursula on nights and weekends. Ian nurtur
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I grew up in Waiau Pa so the chapters set in the area were familiar.
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting insight into part of NZ history, but the book needed a lot more polish. I found the constant mutterings of “bloody Ursula” rather tiresome after about the sixth time.
Josie Laird
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This debut novel by Kirsty Powell is highly recommended.
The Strength of Eggshells is the story of Kate, a six-foot-tall rural girl with an uncertain heritage. It is firmly set in New Zealand, and the locations in the story are instantly recognisable and vividly described.
Seeking answers to her past, Kate sets off on her motorbike to find out what happened to her grandmother Meredith. Rather than leaving us to know the story only by following Kate’s investigations, we also have chapters written
Stephan vanOs
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fascinating story. Once I got into the way the author set out the narrative it all worked very successfully. The descriptive passages of the journey up the Wanganui River to Jerusalem and Pipiriki were almost lyrical (I know the area so was able to identify) and the author keeps us guessing about things right up to the end. This book was definitely worth the effort.
Glenys Wild
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read recently and I could not believe it was by a first time author. Having spent quite a lot of time in the area of the Whanganui River and having stayed three times at the Jerusalem Convent on retreat, this was like reading about an old friend. The characterisation of feelings, relationships and how each of these carries through our lives is stunning. I can't wait for the sequel to be written and released. ...more
Dione Jones
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book start with an interesting motor-cycling farmer's daughter trying to find out about her mysterious birth mother and leads into a fascinating story of her grandmother, involving a remote valley beyond the Bridge to Nowhere, Many in New Zealand have heard of this but not too many have seen it. The isolated valley beyond was settled by hopeful farmers early in the twentieth century. Beautifully written and based on fact. A great read ...more
Kim Fuhlendorff
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read.... based in NZ real life. Fictional characters... I couldn't put it down. Lots of twists and shockers ! ...more
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Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
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