Hot Picks - Otago Writers


As we celebrate Otago Anniversary day on March 25, it seems like a good opportunity to highlight our local fiction writers. And given that Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature there is even more reason to celebrate our own very talented novelists. Below is a list of books with stories woven around Dunedin history, published in the last few years:

Never to Return Home: John and Mary White's Otago Story. Fraser Boyd
Mary Neylon and John White, both from Ireland,  emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1800s following the potato famine.  Mary and John are the great-grandparents of the author's wife, Margaret.  They did farm work in Portobello, Dunedin,  for the first year and they developed new skills and confidence, determined to make their new lives work.

Cargill's Castle Revisited. Bernadette Joyce
As a child, Andrew spent happy hours playing around Cargill's Castle in Dunedin.  A generous legacy from an uncle when Andrew grew older,  enabled Andrew to buy the property and he is determined to restore it to its former glory.  Andrew enlists the help of Jess, a researcher at the Otago Museum.  When a painting is found of a beautiful woman in the rafters of the castle, the lives of Andrew and Jess are changed.

Navigator: A Novel. Anne Moir
Joe Hassen was a navigator in Bomber Command in the second world war.  He survived his service and returned home to Dunedin and to his wife, Molly.  Joe finds it hard to settle into his life as a teacher as he is haunted by a family secret.  Eventually he takes steps to reconcile and come to terms with his family background.

Gone to Pegasus. Tess Redgrave
It’s Dunedin 1892, and the women’s suffrage movement is gaining momentum. Left to fend for herself when her husband is committed to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, 23-year-old Eva meets Grace, an outspoken suffragette with an exotic and mysterious past. As the friendship between the two women grows through a shared love of music, Eva begins questioning the meaning of her marriage and her role as a woman. But Grace has a bullying husband and secrets she’s been keeping from Eva, which could threaten the freedom both women find themselves fighting for.

Southern Gold:  Survival and Desire in a Raw New Land. Jude Thomas
It is 1858 in boom town Dunedin.   Dreamers and vagabonds are pouring into the new colony to seek their fortune in the province's goldfields. A newborn baby is found abandoned on the road. She finds acceptance in the notorious and close-knit community of Maclaggan Street.  Billie grows into an independent, spirited girl, and a force to be reckoned with.

Disruption. Mary Withall
Clergyman James Bantrie and his family, along with young doctor Alexander Beaton, have both responded to  an advertisement for settlers in the newly established colony of Otago in the South Island of New Zealand.  During the sea voyage they meet newly widowed Jessie Dundas and her son Tommy.  Many trials both during the long journey to their new home and when they arrive are to be endured before they are truly settled in the new colony.


Wild Latitudes. Barbara Else
Strands of Flax. Raewyn Gregory
The Effects of Henry's Cage: Elean's Story. Bernadette Joyce
The Larnachs. Owen Marshall
The Shawl: It's Warp and Weft, from 1746 to 1945. Nick Thomson
Twister. Jane Woodham