Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
A Way Home - The inspirational story of a quest to build a strawbale house, and a new life
Potton & Burton - $39.99
When life as she knew it ended, with her marriage over and
her last child off into the world, writer Jillian Sullivan set out to fulfil a
long-held dream of building a strawbale house. She settled in a small community
in Central Otago, and A Way Home tells the story of how she eventually managed
to build her new home. With her son-in-law Sam as her builder and mentor, and
she as the apprentice, Jillian describes the process of having to learn how to
use tools, how to be strong and to be safe and, more importantly that there is no such thing as can’t.
The house that arises through this memoir is a physical
testament to the rebuilding of a life, of finding your place in a community,
and of the unexpected joyousness in joining
with others on a building project. People come from all over
New Zealand to help – from Nelson, Auckland, Queenstown, from next door and
from the next valleys. There are poets and artists, a magician and finance
analyst, grandmothers and grandchildren, old friends, new friends and strangers.
Each person brings their unique skills and gifts and leaves with new ones. The
house absorbs their creativity and kindnesses.
A Way Home reflects on our need for home, for
community, and for finding a way to live sustainably in this rapidly changing world.
The story evokes life in a harsh climate in a small village, the struggle to
overcome lack of skills and strength, and to move past loneliness and loss to
find a place to call home. This is an affecting story, quietly inspirational
and beautifully told by a deft and skilled writer.
Jillian Sullivan, along with her builder son-in-law Sam
Deavoll, built and plastered her strawbale home as part of making a new life in
the Ida Valley, Central Otago. Since she’d read about natural houses in the
1970s, Jillian had believed in the possibility of community-built homes. A
change in life in her fifties gave her the opportunity to follow her building
dream. The author of eleven other books, Jillian has published novels, short
stories, a collection of poetry and a book on the creative process, A Guide
to Creating. She works at the Maniototo Hospital as a nurse aid, and teaches writing in
New Zealand, and in America each year for the Highlights Foundation. Her awards
include The Highlights Fiction Award in America, and the Kathleen Grattan Prize
for poetry. She has five children and eight grandchildren, many of who were
able to help on the strawbale house.