Monday, February 27, 2017
by Janice Marriott
Bateman - RRP $39.99
What does it mean to be a grandparent in New Zealand society today? What is it that keeps families and communities functioning? Continuity? Trust? Love? Janice Marriott, award-winning author and, more importantly, grandmother decided to find out …
Grandparents Talk contains frank, sometimes astonishing, inspiring and thought-provoking interviews with a cross-section of New Zealand grandparents. We discover the variety of grandparents in our diverse society, the heartbreak and the hilarity, and just how indispensable grandparents are. Photos of the featured grandparents, and gorgeous pictures and paintings of grandparents by school children, adorn the pages.
‘The urge to write a book about grandparents came to me when I was looking at sculptures on a Sculpture Walk and a friend was reading to me words associated with the sculptures. A girl, maybe three years old, and a woman, maybe 60, were listening, the grandmother with her hand on the girl’s shoulder. I noticed that the girl’s ponytail was pulled through a hole in the top of her sun hat. This made me smile at the grandmother, and she understood my smile. She told me the hole was her way of keeping the girl’s hat on. Just an ordinary interaction on a hot day, but its ordinariness seemed to me so extraordinary: the practicality of the grandmother, the shared love — conveyed by that hand on her granddaughter’s shoulder — and we two grandmothers acknowledging each other.
‘I set out to explore more of these extraordinary ordinary moments. I chose to do this by interviewing, face-to-face, a variety of grandparents. None would think they were extraordinary, but they all were,’ says Janice.
Most grandparenting doesn’t feature in the formal statistics. As these grandparents talk, their words reveal the varied and often heroic role that grandparents play in today’s families: the heartache of long-distance grandparenting, the sacrifices some people make to keep their grandkids safe and well, the sports coaching, the school pick-up, the concerns about the future. This book shows how and why grandparents do this work, and celebrates the unique bond between themselves and their grandchildren.
‘Of course we lose the intensity of the relationship as the grandchildren grow. They crack open that fragile shell of our love and escape, as independent as newly-hatched crocodiles, into a new world that doesn’t care about grandparents at all. But it doesn’t stop us from adoring them, treasuring their every moment, the times when we feel we have cheated old age, been born again, and have a foothold on the rock of immortality.’ — Janice Marriott
Janice Marriott is an award-winning writer of novels, memoir and children’s books, and a columnist, a writing tutor and a grandmother.