Rosamund has written a family saga with a difference - one that brings to the fore characters set against the wild and unpredictable landscapes of New Zealand, that threaten to reduce human life to ashes when they erupt in earthquakes.
The hopes and aspirations of Beth, born in the sleepy town of Napier in 1903, and then her daughter Laura, born in 1939, are played out against the stifling social atmosphere of post-war New Zealand. When Laura falls pregnant to the young poet and journalist Louis, life takes an unpredictable turn, leading inexorably to a horrific tragedy.
Surrounding mother and daughter is a cast of other vividly drawn people – Jeffrey Langton, Beth's Australian admirer, Joseph Manton the poet; Beryl Blair, who suffers childhood disfigurement and the disgrace of an illegitimate pregnancy; and the Maori artist Wiremu, whose serenity and patience help Beryl to overcome her past.
This is a very satisfying read and the author has done a terrific job of portraying Australia and New Zealand through its powerful characters.