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Chill: summer is coming

As we passed the equinox last Sunday, the thought that from now on the daylight hours will get incrementally longer is exciting. I was one of those people who enjoyed lockdown. I enjoyed the peace and calm on our roads and the quiet that allowed our planet to restore itself, if only temporarily, but I am also now looking forward to trips away in our caravan as the months get warmer.

But we humans are a fickle lot. Three months ago, we were scared that the virus would run rampant in our country. We were grateful for the lockdown that protected us from getting sick. We were thankful for the essential workers who saved lives, who kept food on our tables and for the leadership that made it happen. We were kinder, more compassionate and a team; a team of five million.

But it seems we are no longer scared. Our gratitude has disappeared. Instead, the team has broken apart and we have become a herd who criticises, complains and moans. Whatever happened to our collective spirit? What happened to kindness?

Meanwhile, I’ve sat in my writing room enjoying the autumn sunshine and my time in yesteryear. I’ve investigated life in Dunedin and Invercargill and what effect the First World War had on small communities. I’ve spent time learning about Celtic spirals and the koru as symbols of unity and spirit and nature.

My newest novel, “The Portrait of a Man” is close to being finished. I hope by the end of July the writing will be done and the hard work of editing will begin. If all goes well, the story will be released in October.

Ambrose Chiaroni is a desperate man when he arrives in Dunedin at the time of the gold rush in 1863. Penniless, and with his wife held captive in Melbourne by her father, he has to find a way to win her back. But he has many obstacles and even more fears to overcome.

By the time his two nephews arrive thirty years later, Ambrose is once again desperate. Except now he has money, status, and a thriving business, but is past caring. His nephews give him a reason to continue, but will his legacy survive?

One of those nephews befriends a rakish Italian artist during WWI. In the small conservative town of Invercargill, how will the newcomer fare or will the Chiaroni Gallery face a backlash?

Over a century later, history repeats itself. A struggling artist arrives on the doorstep of an Auckland gallery, where secrets and deceptions are revealed. Will the wounds of the past restore or destroy an artist’s legacy?
The novel is inspired by the true story of the Chiaroni family interwoven with characters from ‘The Cornish Knot”.
The parallels are uncanny.

Photo courtesy of Bev Robitai

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