I’m delighted to be taking part on this the opening day for the blog tour of this lyrical and unique novel.
A novel about food, whanau (= family, essentially), and mental illness.
Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep – just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his M?ori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?
The story is set in New Zealand and centres on a family. It’s helpful, I think, to quickly run through the relationships and say a little about the main characters. There’s Valerie, the mother, who was married to a Maori man. There’s Elena, the elder daughter, who’s pregnant. She’s a food blogger and we see some of her posts in the book. She’s married to the philandering Malcolm.
Michael is Valerie’s son. He’s at university and lives the life of a carefree twenty-year-old, chilling with friends and enjoying himself. He’s very interested in Maori culture, which he learns about from his grandmother, Gayle.
There’s also youngest child, Rosa, a very precocious eight-year-old, and from whose mouth come some very astute observations, and also there’s close family friend and activist Evie.
These are the main characters who act as narrators in turn. Each voice is distinct, and not just from the point of view it conveys but also in the language and imagery. Each person faces some sort of crisis, some more major than others. But none of it is over the top since we see the family cope, the way that close families do, with whatever life throws at them. The serious issue of mental health that crops up is particularly sensitively handled.
Another thing to know about is the reference to Maui in the book’s title. In Maori mythology he is a clever trickster. One of his accomplishments was to catch a giant fish using his grandmother’s jawbone as a hook. He attempted to make humankind immortal by tricking the Goddess of the Night, but he failed and died. When you read the book you will see how this title is so apt for this story.
It’s a lyrical and moving story, beautifully written, slow and steady to begin with but the pace and tension build as problems begin to emerge. Not all are completely solved but the family show strength and courage as they deal with them. Each of them moves from being rather self-absorbed at the start of the story to developing a wider awareness of their loved ones and their own role in the pattern of their family. Personal and cultural clashes are faced and dealt with.
This is a very thought-provoking, compassionate, enlightening and absorbing novel. Most enjoyable.
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/826608
Isa Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. She grew up as a P?keh? child in a bicultural family and M?ori was her first written language. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.
Follow the rest of the tour: