GREENSTONE by Sylvia Ashton-Warner


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This seems as if it could be the beginning volume of the chronicle of the Considine family of New Zealand. Richard Considine, once a celebrity in England, is bent into a Z by crippling arthritis. He is the one who makes the meals and minds the endless supply of children while his wife teaches school, saws the wood and draws the water. Mrs. Considine is almost as great a character as her husband. She is still jealous of her captive, captivating cripple. She does not suffer in silence, but complains loudly, melodramatically every step of the way-- fending off their stage villain of a landlord, tangling with their two generations of children, berating Mr. Considine until he calls on them for protection or aid, rolling out their names like an old Testament genealogist. Ten growing years are covered in the time span of a novel which includes the fables Mr. Considine tells his brood and chapter heads that are made up of stanzas from Maori history chants. Huia Brice Considine is a Maori princess, the daughter of Mr. Considine's eldest son and motherless since her birth. She is the one who wears the greenstone of the title and she is to be educated in both the Maori and the English tradition -- swinging between the poetry of the natives and the gusty epic quality the Considines bring to their living. The author creates moments in time with vivid, beautiful writing.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1966
Publisher: Simon & Schuster