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The Sharp end of the stick, Catherine Robertson

Novelist and reviewer Catherine Robertson takes the pulse of local book reviewing

“Tame, dull, lazy, cowardly and predictable” is how Iain Sharp described New Zealand’s book reviewers in an opinion piece for website The Spinoff (March 23). He called for us to be less “gutless”, more “mean-spirited”, and to stop “talking tactfully through our rear ends”. He singled out round-up reviews and certain blogs as especially pointless, and called for an end to the bland and saccharine “Age of the Timid”.

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Tea and comfort, Sarah Laing

The Hiding Places
Catherine Robertson
Black Swan, $37.00,
ISBN 9781775536420

Where is the line between popular and literary fiction? If the latter is rich with poetic language and literary references, then Catherine Robertson has crossed it. But if popular fiction aims to entertain and to comfort above all, then Robertson has a foot on either side. Her previous three novels fall firmly in the popular fiction camp, but The Hiding Places is a compelling hybrid, a novel that attempts to hold a mirror up to the world, at the same time as delighting in eccentric English characters and mock-Tudor mansions.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Ticking on by, Catherine Robertson

Carnival Sky
Owen Marshall
Vintage, $38.00
ISBN 9781775535827

The White Clock
Owen Marshall
Otago University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781877578632

Both of Marshall’s latest works centre on confrontations with mortality, and both do a fine job of showing that these are not always occasions for personal truth-seeking and comforting reminiscence, but also for less praiseworthy responses – resentment, selfishness, anger and outright head-in-the-sand denial.

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Dizzy rascal, Catherine Robertson

Disraeli’s Daughter Catherine Styles Steele Roberts, $30.00, ISBN 9781877577963 Catherine Styles’s grandmother, Kate, was the illegitimate daughter of Benjamin Disraeli. Under his instructions, she was married off and banished to the colonies in order to avoid any stain on his

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Posted in History, Memoir, Non-fiction and Review
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