Review by Alicia Ponder.
Yes, I know, I usually leave these reviews to the people who know something about "serious" genres. But Fiona is such an icon, and as I have rather enjoyed her latest offerings I thought, why not? I mean I rather intended to get around to it some time ago, but sometimes life gets in the way and books get piled behind other books - but now I've finally done it and I'm pleased I did.
Then, because I know so little, I peeked at the other reviews. And I agreed with them, yes she's a fantastic author, and yes it's a very long list of books, yes it was a great historical encapsulation of the springbok tour and of writing events in the last twenty years, and finally yes it was written with clarity, humility and style.
But what I took away from it, as an ex-NaeNae College student was completely different. Forget the overbearing honesty, it's overrated, I agreed with Fiona's sentiment that fiction can be more can be more truthful than non-fiction -- what I saw was her caring, and her willingness to stand up for other people, especially writers, but this was made to seem inconsequential (although I'm sure it was not) compared to her husband Ian. Fiona shows that Ian is not just any man, he is a man who is prepared to give his time, and even put his body on the line for other people. His tough and almost lawless childhood is well worth reading about - and then at the last gasp he decides to educate himself, and takes himself on the path that would lead him to NaeNae College and refugees and the clash with police during the infamous Springbok Tour.
Yes, everyone who is interested in New Zealand writing, or Fiona Kidman will want to read this book, and I certainly count myself in that category, but I think a few ex-NaeNae College students will also want a read, maybe flicking through all the writery bits and getting to the bits starring Ian, just to see what he was up to as well.