Friday, 29 September 2017

Leap of Faith by Jenny Pattrick

A vivid novel about ingenuity and hard slog, crooks and dreamers, bootleggers and love.

Billy is a young, impressionable dreamer. In 1907, at only 14 years old, he strikes off on his own, keen to prove himself an able worker on the new railroad. It's being cut through steep mountainsides and across deep gullies to join the two ends of the Main Trunk Line. Also drawn to the remote worker settlements are miners from Denniston, young men fresh off the boat, sly-groggers, temperance campaigners, women following their menfolk, local Maori and a varied assortment of people after a new life or a quick buck. Among them is a preacher, Gabriel Locke, who is running from a shady past and determined to avoid the daily grind. With untimely and suspicious deaths, the horrendous weather, impossible deadlines, the rugged landscape and a blossoming romance, it will take a lot more than a leap of faith for this disparate group to complete the railroad and build the magnificent Makatote viaduct ...

Jenny Pattrick takes us on a journey into the world of early New Zealand railway work and its often dangerous environment.

This book particularly appealed to me with Billy going out on his own at such a young age. I remember my own father telling me of leaving home at 14 to work on the fishing boats in the Arctic Ocean and the harsh, freezing conditions they survived through. I found myself comparing situations and wondering how young boys of today would cope. Jenny Pattrick, like so many great fiction writers, uses the experiences of real people to develop her characters. What would my father’s or your father’s stories become in the hands of a writer like her? Would their voices be used to create a character like Billy?
Identified by Nicky Pellegrino as 'one of this country's most talented storytellers', it has been said that she creates 'an authentic stage for a cast of characters who interact in ways that always ring true' (The Christchurch Press).

Reviewed by Hastings District Libraries

Jenny Pattrick is in Hawkes Bay for the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival Readers & Writers programme. Don’t miss her Family Fiction with Mary-anne Scott in the Spiegeltent, Havelock North Village Green, Saturday 30 Sept, 5.30pm and Keeping the Faith at the MTG Century Theatre, Napier, Sunday 1 Oct, 11.00am. We’ll see you there!

Catalogue link:  Leap of Faith

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