An unlikely love story
Laurence Fearnley Penguin Books $28
This beautifully written new novel by Laurence Fearnley is about finding love in the most unlikely of places. Set in the southern South Island, it describes the unusual friendship formed between 62-year-old photographer Edwin and 22-year-old Matilda, whom he meets when shooting photographs for her wedding.
Brought together, Edwin and Matilda embark on a search for Edwin's mother, a woman he has long believed dead. The journey involves a series of agonising discoveries by Edwin, about his parents and what really happened years before. Their search takes them to a former TB sanatorium, where Edwin recalls childhood days and a mother who one day walked out of his life, to Franz Josef and a sister he never knew he had, and finally to a nursing home and the discovery of his elderly mother, where the novel ends.
Along the journey, Edwin and Matilda develop an intense relationship, which grows in ways neither of them could possibly have predicted. The growing, tentative intimacy between them is touching and compelling.
Note publication is not until 3 September.
Here is an interesting piece about the book, its background & the author from the Southland Times:
Love for Southland inspires
By AMY MILNE - The Southland Times Friday, 17 August 2007
An affinity with Southland and Central Otago's isolated and small communities has been inspiring Dunedin-based writer Laurence Fearnley for the past five years.
The release next month of Fearnley's latest book, Edwin and Matilda, is the second in a trilogy of novels set in Central Otago and Southland.
"I really like the Southland and the Central Otago areas," Fearnley says.
"There's something that I find very appealing about those sort of rural, quite isolated communities," Fearnley says.
Edwin and Matilda is set in two locations.
The main location is the real-life Wapiata tuberculosis sanatorium near Alexandra, and the second is Franz Josef, on the West Coast.
Edwin and Matilda is an unusual and beautiful love story between a 62-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman.
Her first novel in the trilogy, Butlers Ringlet, is set in Mossburn.
The final book is set in Invercargill and Fearnley is using her tenure as the 2007 Robert Burns Fellow in residence to finish it.
Christchurch-born Fearnley says her love of Southland started when she was a child.
"It's an area that we used to come down to a lot when I was a kid, and I've always just really liked just a lot of things about it," Fearnley says.
"I like the landscape in this area and I like ... those small, isolated communities."
She is drawn to towns that are often overlooked, she says. "I like the differences in the communities around Invercargill – you know how Winton seems quite rich and well off, whereas Mataura seems quite poor ... I find it quite intriguing that within such short distances you can get this range of communities." Fearnley visits Southland as often as possible.
"There's just so many things that are nice about those kind of stories, and they're not really in places that many other writers write about ...
but it sort of makes more sense to me." The final book, which Fearnley has three-quarters completed, has the working title Mother's Day.
It is about a 40-year-old divorced single mother who lives with her two teenage children and 4-year-old grandson, and works as a caregiver.
Fearnley says memories of a friend's mother inspired some of the ideas behind the main character.
"I just remember how her mother was always working ... it's kind of in the back of my mind when I'm writing the book." She admits putting words to paper requires a lot of discipline, especially when setting herself a 1000 to 1500-word guideline each day.
It is tiring and Fearnley plans to have a break from novel writing after completing the trilogy.
"I obviously feel quite tired with writing novels, I feel like I've been working quite hard." However, it does not mean the end of her writing career.
"I think I will be writing forever, because it's something that makes me feel good," she said.