I haven't been around for awhile because me and the family have been laid low with various winter colds and 'flu. Not such a great time, but it has meant I've churned through a few good books.
One in particular grabbed me and wouldn't let go until I'd read the last page. Written by Deborah Challinor it is titled FIRE.
Although a work of fiction it is based on the Ballantyne's fire of 1947. Ballantyne's is a department store in Christchurch and the fire, which took 41 lives, is the worst fire in New Zealand's history.
Challinor's FIRE is set in 1953 at the time of the first visit to New Zealand of the newly crowned Elizabeth II. It follows the lives of four friends, who work at Auckland's Dunbar & Jones. I enjoyed reading about the lives of these very different girls and the larger cast of their workmates and family. The advent of the milk bar cowboys, fashions in the 50s and the Maori land issues.
Then fire broke out in the basement of Dunbar & Jones and the pace picked up. No spoilers here, but it would have to be the most exciting piece of writing I've read in a long time. It's taut, tense, and fast paced, yet there is time for touching, heart wrenching moments too. I urge you to grab a copy and read it - now!
Earlier today I finally finished writing another short story. It's for another Dunedin Writers' Workshop competition which closes tomorrow. As I know the judge will be reading this and our entries are anonymous I can't tell you a thing about it. You'll just have to wait a month.
So now it's back to Amelia's story, which is coming along quite nicely.