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by Deborah Challinor

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m having trouble assigning a rating to this book, as for around the first three quarters of it I had a few problems with Challinor’s writing style. This is an adult book, but the use of language & the pacing (but not the subject matter – there is a lot of sex & talk about sex) was like a 1950s YA novel – think Beverly Cleary. This did make the start rather a dreary read – even though, as a Kiwi who grew up in Auckland, I’m just loving the ‘local’ touches. The fictitious Dunbar & Jones department St is on Wyndham St, one couple go on their first date to the Civic Theatre. I love the Civic! My favourite New Zealand building.

Civic Theatre

The inside of the Civic is pure magic.

The book really does improve as it goes on. The Pakeha (European) land grab at Orakei – shameful. I did not know the history of that – & I grew up not far away from there. The book was inspired by the real life fire at Ballantyne’s (which was in Christchurch) was edge of the seat stuff, so while writing this review I decided I was going to go with 4★, but be aware particularly if you are not a New Zealander Dear Reader, you may not regard it so high.

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