I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons: it was something a bit different, it was set—mainly—in rural New Zealand (somewhere I should like to go), and it was written with great sincerity and feeling.
Francis Murrihy left Canada with his wife and children to go and live in New Zealand. But after a devastating tragedy all contact with his family back in Canada ceased, inexplicably. When his mother becomes fatally ill, it falls upon his brother, Conrad, to track him down to fulfil his mother’s wish: that she should see him before he dies. The task is not an easy one. The trail is a blurred one, and Conrad is confronted and frustrated by a degree of unhelpfulness and prevarication. Along the way, Conrad, though at first angry and irritated by his brother’s selfish disappearance, finds himself examining his own life and attitudes.
This book is the author’s first novel and is one he should be proud of. It really is quite absorbing, and a reader can take from it what s/he wants. There is a religious content (but the book in no way falls under the Christian fiction genre). However, it’s not major, so if you’re not in the slightest bit interested in religion (like me), it’s not a deal-breaker. The descriptions of the New Zealand scenery were immensely vivid. Written in the first person (Conrad), it was easy to feel his emotions, which ranged from anger, confusion, annoyance, regret, remorse and compassion.
This is entirely personal, but I wasn’t too keen on the punctuating chapters of 'te wahini'…I just didn't get them...nor did I warm to the use of present-tense narrative, but again, this wasn’t a deal breaker.
This is a book of many layers with surprises and revelations between each one.