Hyacinths and Biscuits

by Peggy Dunstan & Others

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

A DNF at 62 pages.

I was going to put this on my in hibernation shelf to see if I would feel like coming back to this collection by the Penwomen’s Club (New Zealand), published in 1985- but I don’t feel I will.

This collection suffers from the fault that most short story/poetry collections written by writing groups do – it is very uneven. It would be impossible to be anything else, because talent isn’t given out evenly. So how can the results be anything else?

The book started with my favourite poem & short story out of the ones I read. The poem Expanding Universe by Valerie Henderson which was short & eloquent. A Diplomatic Daughter more properly is an extract from Jean Boswell’s autobiography, Dim Horizons. I found very funny.

The reason I picked up this book was it had a short story by the legendary Patricia GraceSummer from her first collection of short stories, Waiariki So far the little I have read by Grace I have admired the talent without finding the work memorable. I am going to be reading her most famous novel Potikilater this month & I hope I will be awestruck!

I found the further I went into the book the less engaged I was. I’m not going to pick holes in what I didn’t care for – other than I thought Una Craig, only just missed on making a wonderful short story with the 1939 The Emancipation of Mr Amble. It could have been deep, but she went for obvious. A pity.

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