Category: Historical


I eagerly awaited my turn at the public library to read The Larnachs, the latest novel by renowned New Zealand author, Owen Marshall I have always been quite fascinated by Larnachs castle, after visiting as a child and attending the Knox Ball in the Larnach ballroom more than 25 years ago. So when I saw the Larnach family was the subject of Marshall’s latest offering, I was very keen to see what he had done with it.  I had never been aware of the supposition that there had been a love triangle between patriarch William, his much-younger third wife Connie and his younger son Dougie.

Marshall chose to tell the story from Connie and Dougie’s perspective by alternating chapters.  Both have a very strong voice and you become invested in their experiences. The characters are believable and Marshall paints the colonial New Zealand landscape very well.

The first half of the book was riveting.  I literally couldn’t put it down, but unfortunately for me the ending felt a long time coming.  Maybe this was because I had some basic knowledge of William Larnach and his life and so to a certain extent I knew what was coming.  But I think it was more due to the fact that I became less engaged with the “love story” aspect and found myself thinking “for goodness sake, just get on with it”.  Having said that, I would still recommend this as a satisfactory read to those who enjoy a good historical novel, especially with a New Zealand flavour.

For those who read The Larnachs and want to know more about William Larnach and his family you can check out what Te Ara, the encyclopaedia of New Zealand has published about him.

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I am a big Jennifer Donnelly fan, especially her young adult novel A Gathering Light and so I was very keen to read her latest offering, Revolution which lived up to expectations.

This novel is set in two time periods.  It begins in contemporary New York following Andi’s story as she deals with the tragic death of her younger brother.  Wracked with guilt in her percieved part in her brother’s death and struggling to see the point in going on with her life, Andi finds herself reluctantly in Paris with her father.  Enter the second component to this story.  Andi becomes involved in her father’s purpose for being in Paris, which is to discover scientifically whether the small human heart contained in the glass urn is in fact that of Louis Charles, son and heir to French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

As Andi sets out to discover the truth about Louis Charles she is somehow transported back to the time of the French Revolution and becomes Alexandrine, a girl of her age, desperately trying to save Louis Charles from his fate.

Donnelly, through her scene-setting and character-developing skills, will draw you Revolution and won’t release you until the very last page.  Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and as with all good historical stories, it made me want to set about doing some of my own research into the facts behind the story.  You can go to Jennifer Donnelly’s website to read her inspiration for writing this novel http://www.jenniferdonnelly.com/rev_inspiration.html. Fascinating stuff, and highly recommended.