March Book: Access Road
Author: Maurice Gee
First Published: 2009
As I am still waiting for the February book from the library I thought I had better be first off the mark for March.
I have to confess I haven’t read a lot of Maurice Gee’s work (I know, he’s a Kiwi author, I must try harder!). But the movie adaptation of his novel ‘ In My Father’s Den’ remains one of my favourite all-time movies.
I enjoyed this latest offering. It’s the story of three elderly siblings as they uncover/reveal their past and, in particular, a dark secret. I liked how the ‘New Zealandness” of this novel is etched clearly. I liked how I could see the places the novel is set. That I knew them to be real. I liked how at first I thought I was reading a tale of a family of quirky old Kiwis but how the quirkiness turned a little more sinister.
While I felt the plot was a bit far-fetched what drew me to the book was the writing. Maurice Gee has a wonderful way with words and I felt I was reading the work of someone who really knows how to write. I read a review recently where someone described him as New Zealand’s greatest writer.
Here’s an example of what I liked.It was just a little scene-setting snip describing how the mother’s life had changed during her transition from a privileged childhood to a harder marriage:
“ I don’t think she regretted what she had lost. It was real; she identified it, and bred small selected pieces into her children’s behaviour – good manners, quiet voices, little observances of precedence and obligation, a ceremony of goodnight when we went to bed: things I remember and practice inside myself even as I leave them neglected in word and deed.”
This year I’ve decided to rate the books. It’s arbitrary! 7/10