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Review: Frederick’s Coat by Alan Duff

December 11, 2013

This is a story of missed opportunity, tragedy and hope, and the bond between father and son.  I thought it was well written, as one would expect of Alan Duff, author of several previous novels including “Once were warriors”.

Alan Duff

Alan Duff

Johno is an Australian born part-Maori brought up in Sydney’s Balmain by his father, who was brought up by his father.  Father and grandfather are small time criminals with “morals” and expect Johno to go into the family business.  This results in Johno and his best mate Shane “doing time”.Johno comes out determined to go straight, especially as he gets lumbered with his strange artistic young son, Danny. Danny befriends Frederick, a poetic homeless man in a grey herringbone coat.  Frederick and his coat come to be integral to Danny’s  existence and form the inspiration to Danny’s artistic genius.

Parallel to Johno and Danny’s story is Shanes story – who chooses not to go straight.  Johno and Shane go through their lives without making contact – Shane on the inside, Johno on the outside, but often think of one another. What happens next can only be described as a tragic twist of fate.

With the exodus of many New Zealanders to Australia, the story resonates. A really good read, although I found it rather sad.  9/10

– Pamela


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