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In a remote rural valley in the New Zealand hills, two cultural traditions interweave. The land is owned by Maori, and there are many Maori in the community. But the other families regard themselves as Celtic, with ancient memories stretching back through the centuries, to Culloden, and before. A traumatised people speaking Gaelic have been dispossessed and driven out of their homeland, to seek refuge in New Zealand, only to find themselves caught up in a history that has dispossessed the original people of the new land. Two great traditions blend - and also clash. Growing up in the extended family is the girl Mara, the one they call Girlie, abandoned by her free-wheeling journalist mother and brought up by uncles and aunts. A free spirit herself, Mara struggles to understand the power of the past. Then a great flood devastates the valley and the community is scattered. Introduced to the liberating world of books, the teenage Mara begins to understand the connections between memories, ancestors and history. The unease she has felt is transformed into the beginnings of an identity that is truly her own.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 300 pages
  • Penguin Books (NZ)
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 014301000X
  • 9780143010005

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Author information

Gillian Ranstead came to the notice of readers with her first novel Red Silk Sea, which won the Best First Book Award at the Montana Awards in 2006. Gillian lives in Wellington and writes fulltime.
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Rating details

4 ratings
3 out of 5 stars
5 25% (1)
4 0% (0)
3 25% (1)
2 50% (2)
1 0% (0)
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