Rachael King is an award-winning author with three novels under her belt and was programme director of WORD Christchurch for eight years. She is currently writing a novel for children and a work of non-fiction.
In a minute she'd beg me to do anything I could to save the garment. That's what they always did. Begged and pleaded. There was usually a lover involved, and a cheated-upon spouse. I, as the mender, would be saving their life. People had actually said I was worth my weight in gold . . .
But it wasn't my skill the clients were grateful for. No. It was my collusion. What lies are worth: their weight in gold.
— Anne Kennedy
Anne Kennedy's most recent books are The Sea Walks into a Wall (AUP), Moth Hour (AUP) and The Ice Shelf (VUP).
We invited Anne to be involved after she wrote the fabulous novel, The Last Days of the National Costume (Allen & Unwin), which proved that mending clothes is anything but an uneventful, uncomplicated occupation.
In 2021, Anne was honoured with the 2021 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement in Poetry.
Other awards and fellowships include the Montana NZ Book Award for Poetry, the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry, the IIML Writers' Residency, and the University of Iowa International Fall Residency.
Anne has taught creative writing at the University of Hawai`i and Manukau Institute of Technology. She lives in Auckland.
The Last Days of the National Costume (Allen & Unwin, 2013) is a brilliant, charming and heartwarming novel about illicit love, sewing, blackouts and Belfast.
You'd think that mending clothes would be an uneventful, uncomplicated occupation. No drama, no unnecessary explanations, no personal involvement. But people love to talk, and as they make their excuses to GoGo Sligo, of Megan Sligo Mending and Alterations, they reveal the holes in their stories as well.
It doesn't take long for GoGo to get to the truth behind the rips and tears they've brought her to fix.
Book cover: The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy
The house was shuttered against the coming winter, and the spectre of my grandfather stood on the front step to greet me before dissolving into the shadows. I had left the rain behind, and the weak autumn light descended from the clouds and bounced off the cliffs to the north, playing tricks. The stillness frightened me. I had been coming here most of my life and my arrival was always accompanied by movement and sound.
— Rachael King
Rachael King is an award-winning author with three novels under her belt: The Sound of Butterflies, which was published internationally and translated into nine languages; Magpie Hall, a gothic novel set in Canterbury; and Red Rocks, a junior novel that won the Esther Glen medal in 2014.
In 2008 Rachael held the Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence position at Canterbury University, which brought her to Christchurch, where she later became programme director of WORD Christchurch for eight years.
At the end of 2021 she received a Creative New Zealand grant to write two linked books: a novel for children and a work of non-fiction, both of which she is working on in 2022.
We invited Rachael after reading her gripping and powerful novel, Magpie Hall, which is set in an historic home somewhere in the South Island.
Magpie Hall (Penguin, 2009) explores the fleshly taboo around class and tattoos in the Victorian era; the intimacy and atavistic nature of a marriage and contemporary relationships; the potentially obsessive/ compulsive behaviour of collecting flora, fauna (and other things) that can decimate native species and ruin lives.
Rosemary Summers is an amateur taxidermist and a passionate collector of tattoos. To her, both activities honour the deceased and keep their memory alive.
After the death of her beloved grandfather, and while struggling to finish her thesis on gothic Victorian novels, she returns alone to Magpie Hall to claim her inheritance: Grandpa's own taxidermy collection, started more than 100 years ago by their ancestor Henry Summers.
As Rosemary sorts through Henry's legacy, the ghosts of her family's past begin to make their presence known.
Book cover: Magpie Hall by Rachael King
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