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Rising from the ashes

June 13, 2019

Once again, NZ author Deborah Challinor has written a marvellous novel. “From the ashes” is set in 1950s Auckland, it’s the story of several intermingled families. I really liked it, but I have to admit that it did take me a while to get used to the copious number of characters!  Actually, I can envision it being a successful television series.

One of the main characters is Allie Manaia – a Pakeha woman married to Sonny, a Maori man. They have had a difficult few years with the loss of their baby, and Allie nearly being killed in a department store fire (previous novel ‘Fire’ mentions this).   Their mixed-race relationship is a little controversial, and soon, one of Allie’s shop customers takes it upon herself to try and create trouble in their marriage, so that Allie will realise she can do better.  Allie’s sister Donna is a trainee nurse who gets taken in by a young handsome Doctor.  The younger sister Pauline is full of verve, but falls in love with a young Maori man and they have a bright future planned, before a tragedy unfolds. 

Sonny’s family includes his sister Polly, a beautiful woman who makes most of her money in a brothel. She uses it to support her young daughter, who is being raised by her Mum. However, when she spies the father of the child (a brothel customer) she takes the opportunity to implement a blackmail plan to see her daughters future assured. But it doesn’t quite unfold the way she wanted…

Meanwhile, Allie’s meddlesome customer is Kathleen Lawson, a rich, lonely woman. She is extremely focused on presenting the perfect high status life, but in reality, one of her children is struggling with their sexual identity, and her husband is being unfaithful.

As you can tell, this is the beginnings of a family saga and I for one, am very interested to see what happens in the next novel, House of Sorrows.




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