Tuesday, December 04, 2012
The Book of Secrets- new Vintage edition
“I have lived alone in this house for a long time. I have not kept records. I do not have marks on the wall, or diaries, though I am the keeper of certain books which do not belong to me but have fallen into my hands. I have a suspicion that these things never happen entirely by
chance, for among them is what I call the book of secrets. This was my grandmother’s way of telling it, the secrets of her life.”
– The Book of Secrets
In 1985, Fiona Kidman held the New Zealand Scholarship in Letters; an essential ingredient in the penning of her classic, much admired novel The Book of Secrets.
First published 25 years ago, The Book of Secrets has remained in print ever since. The publication of this new Vintage edition is timed to mark the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers to Waipu, in northern New Zealand. The celebration in Waipu is a calendar event, attracting people from all over the world.
As part of next year’s 160th anniversary celebrations, Fiona Kidman stars
in a re-enactment Pageant based on The Book of Secrets, which will take
place on the banks of the Waipu River on 11 and 12 January 2013.
A timeless novel, The Book of Secrets follows the true story of a group of
19th century Scottish crofter migrants who travelled to the other side of
the world, fetching up in New Zealand in 1853, after a score of years in
Nova Scotia and Australia.
Led by zealous preacher Norman McLeod – aka ‘the Man’ – who ruled
his flock with an iron fist, these crofter migrants established a community
in Waipu. McLeod’s harsh leadership meant that anyone who ran counter
to him had to live a life of secrets. McLeod was a real person and the
incredible journeys that he and his ‘flock’ undertook actually happened;
the echoes of his life still evident in the community of Waipu to this day.
Fiona Kidman cleverly blends historical fact with lyrically crafted fiction to
create a compelling story about three women entangled in the migrations
– Isabella, her daughter Annie and granddaughter Maria. Otherwise
known as ‘the witch of Waipu’, Maria is exiled from her community and
forced to live in isolation; alone with her ‘book of secrets’. The ‘secrets’
encapsulated the spirit of these women in their varied reactions to
McLeod’s strict edicts and connect the past to the present and future.
Fiona Kidman has written more than twenty books, mainly novels and collections of short stories. Her most recent novel, The Captive Wife, was a joint winner of the Readers’ Choice Award and a finalist for the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Trouble with Fire has been shortlisted for the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. She has been awarded a number of prizes, honours and fellowships, including the Mobil Short Story Award,the Victoria University Writers Fellowship, and the OBE for services to literature. In 2006 she was the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France. In 2008 she was the Creative New Zealand Michael King Fellow. Fiona Kidman is a Dame
Commander of the New Zealand Order of Merit, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. She lives in Wellington.
Author photo - Robert Cross