Golden Deeds by Catherine Chidgey

Golden Deeds by Catherine Chidgey

At the end of May, we went to New Zealand to visit some friends.  Our friend took us to visit their best independent bookstores, probably because my husband forced him.  We visited a store called The Piggery, and I discovered a section of New Zealand authors, so I decided to pick one up so I could check New Zealand of my list, and Golden Deeds was the one that captured my attention.

The blurbs on the back about the author all seemed very positive (as they usually are) but when I came home, the reviews on Goodreads weren’t that great.  But no turning back.  This is one of those stories that tells several stories that somehow connect up. Patrick Mercer, an Englishman, leaves his wife one day, and at some point is involved in an accident and is a coma.  Collette, a university student in New Zealand, receives letters with updates on his condition, but doesn’t know who he is.  Another family are living with their grief after their teenage daughter went missing and was never found again.  Everyone is on some sort of journey.

I love a book that tells several stories that connect together in some unexpected way. I enjoyed journeying with these characters. But then it ends.  I was disappointed, because I was hoping the mystery of the missing daughter would be solved. We were on the brink of discovery.  No satisfaction at all.  Some people prefer endings like that, but I’m not a fan. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend this novel.  However it was kind of cool to read a book set in a similar area to where I had just visited.  It does help the imagery come to life in your mind.

Do you have any recommendations for authors from New Zealand?


The Parrots

The Parrots by Filippo Bologna.  Translated by Howard Curtis

This book is a satire of the world of literary prizes, which I don’t really follow and even less so with the Italian literary prize scene. Some of this may have been lost on me, but I still found this to be a great read. The Parrots tells the story of the three finalists for a literary prize, the Beginner, the Writer and the Master.  Each have their own story to tell in the lead up to the award. The narrator of this story appears to be someone mysterious and all-knowing; knowing more than even the characters living the story.  None of the characters have real names, being defined by one characteristic.  Beyond the finalists, the background characters include the Girlfriend, the Ex Wife, the Second Wife, and the Publisher.  This helps create some distance between the reader and the characters, so even when they are making terrible choices, you can casually observe from a distance and enjoy the results.

This story is about what one is willing to do to achieve the Prize, and for what one is willing to give up the Prize.  It’s about achieving that success that will overshadow perceived failures. The humour is dark, but that also helps the story from getting too heavy.

I found this to be an enjoyable read, even for someone not part of the world of literary prizes.