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Fishing for Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie: a compassionate novel about a courageous family

I’m delighted to be taking part on this the opening day for the blog tour of this lyrical and unique novel.

Synopsis

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?

My review
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.

Purchase Links
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

Author bio
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.

Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/isapearlritchie/
https://twitter.com/IsaPearlRitchie
https://www.instagram.com/isapearlritchie/

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Sisterly Love by Michelle Vernal: just perfect

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the virtual tour for this super book!

My review

Rebecca is the younger, slightly-disorganised, not-quite-fulfilling-expectations sister of over-achieving Jennifer. So when Jennifer suddenly needs her help when her golden world starts to fall apart, Rebecca is as surprised as everyone else. However, she could do with getting away for a while, following an embarrassing incident when she’d had a drop too much to drink, to let the gossip die down and she feels loyalty towards her sister.

Rebecca is plunged into a hectic life of child-minding and helping at the cookery school, and it’s only made bearable by two men, Ciaran in Ireland and David in New Zealand. Is Rebecca about to get her act together and find happiness and fulfilment, or will she just continue to muddle through life?

Everything about this book is just perfect. There are detailed, atmospheric settings in the bustling city of Dublin and the seaside village of Akaroa, both of which make you want to visit these places for yourself. We meet a whole host of sparkling, distinctive characters who, with their flaws as well as their charm, are a delight to know.

There’s wonderful humour and wit, but you’ll also cringe with embarrassment alongside Rebecca too at times, and feel the tension from the stresses and imperfections of real life that find their way into the story too. It’s a diverting and absorbing read, and one I highly recommend.

Synopsis

Nobody’s Perfect Are They?

Rebecca Loughton’s bumbled her way through her thirty-something years making a few cock-ups along the way. Of course, these wouldn’t be so obvious if it wasn’t for her golden haired, older sister Jennifer.

In a bid to escape Jennifer’s lengthy shadow and to find her happy ever after Rebecca, high-tails it out of her hometown of Christchurch to the other side of the world landing a legal secretary job in the buzzing city of Dublin. A few drinks later, all she has to show for her new life is an embarrassing one-night stand and a dollop of flirtatious banter with her boss Ciaran, who just happens to have a predatory receptionist in hot pursuit of him.

Amidst plans of preventing such a merger, Rebecca receives news that Jennifer’s picture perfect life has a big, fat crack down the middle of it in the form of a philandering husband. Summoned home to look after her sister’s children and cooking school while she works on her marriage, Rebecca finds the reality of looking after two young children along with the bizarre array of guests booked into the cooking school grim. The only bright spot on her horizon are Ciaran’s e-mails but then she meets David Seagar whom she thinks might just be the ending to her happy ever after but will he prove to be far from perfect too?

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1494802112

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1494802112

Author Bio –

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Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavoured my books.

I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week!  The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a North Canterbury lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist/inbox/

https://twitter.com/michellevernal

https://www.instagram.com/vernalmichelle/