Title: The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Author: Joan Stevens

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1966

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Sylvia Johnston

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Ring of Truth

page 114

Ring of Truth. Some shrewdly observed local and domestic scenes give a ring of truth to Eva Burfield's The Long Winter, 1964, in which a hitch-hiker's involvement with the family establishes a strong plot. Margot Bennett's heroine Jenny, in That Summer's Earthquake, 1963, shares with her brother in the sheep work (lambing, shearing, dogs, maggots and all) on a Napier run, and falls disastrously in love with the "hired hand" Sam, a drunken swagger with a past. They elope, but the author evades the problems which she has very convincingly posed by ringing down her curtain with the earthquake.

Less acceptable are several popular exploitations of Maori themes: in these the colour question is invariably raised, but handled with sentimental insincerity, or deliberate cheating. In one story, the racial barrier between young Dr Tane and pretty little Gay is removed by the expedient of revealing that he is, after all, of white blood, having been merely "brought up Maori".