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Review: “La Rochelle’s road” by Tanya Moir

September 12, 2011

Reviewed by Natalie

Set in Banks Peninsula, N.Z., in the 1860s,  near the burgeoning settlement of Akaroa. The Peterson family leave an upper middle class life in England to become prosperous landowners in the land of equality – New Zealand – or so they think. But they  find their hill-country land is just scrub, stumps and clay, and they struggle to even survive.

The father’s character devolves as his prospects falter and his hopes fade.  Mother cannot stand the hard life, especially with no hope of going back to England, so leaves via the only method available.  The teenage son embraces his new life, forging close ties with local Maori.  And Hestor, the teenage daughter, is faced with tough decisions that will affect the rest of her life.

Interspersed with this is the tale of Etienne La Rochelle, the original resident of the property, whose diary Hestor finds. Originally intended to be a record of his explorations of the high passes, it becomes the love story of him and Hine.  Hestor’s desire to find out the end of this love story is sometimes all that keeps her going…

This novel is a fascinating and evocative tale of the disillusionment and difficulty of pioneering life. The tone of it is reminiscent of the film “The Piano”.  It’s the kind of story that will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading it in the small hours of the night.  I loved it!   Excellent historical fiction. Highly recommended, 9/10.



From → New Books

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