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Friday, October 30, 2015

Latest review for Island of the Lost

"I sent this book to a friend who was in jail. He thought it was a very good book"

One wonders whether it was sent in the hope that the reader would find clues about how to:
(a) escape
(b) survive in ghastly conditions
(c) get along with his fellow inmates
But it did get five stars! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fakes can be more interesting than the real thing

I love Lindauer paintings of Maori chiefs.  Not only are they realistic, but they bring history to life.

The Alexander Turnbull Library does, too.  Unfortunately, however, they bought a fake one.

Here is the news release from

The Alexander Turnbull Library has admitted it paid $75,000 of public money for a forged Lindauer portrait.

The national heritage collector, based in Wellington, bought the painting in 2013, despite being warned by an expert before the purchase that is was likely to be a forgery.

It bought the portrait of Hoani or Hamiora Maioha, signed G. Lindauer, at auction.
Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926) painted hundreds of portraits of leading Maori figures, many of which are in public collections.

Before making the purchase, the library got the advice of colonial art expert Roger Blackley, of Victoria University, who told them it looked likely to be a fake. However, it went with the advice of its own experts, and went ahead with the purchase.

On Monday, chief librarian Chris Szekely admitted the library and its in-house experts had made a mistake.

"After having the painting forensically examined, the painting is not what we believed it was," he said.


So, how did they learn the awful truth?

It all comes down to science and an author who knows her stuff.  According to another report, from TV3:

The forgery was confirmed when Auckland Art gallery conservator Sarah Hillary inspected it this year as part of preparations for a book on Lindauer.

She found the painting contained titanium dioxide, which was not available when Lindauer was painting, and that the brushwork was rough compared with Lindauer's careful strokes.

H'mm.  But is all lost?  Can the fake be more interesting than the real thing?  Who painted this rather charming portrait of a handsome young chief?

New Zealand's most famous forger was a man by the name of Karl Sim, who died in 2013. He had copied 62 artists including, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Lindauer and Goldie.

 Here he is.  Isn't he lovely?

When he died exactly two years ago (24 October 2013) at the age of 89, his sister found a list of paintings he might have forged inside a dictionary of artists' signatures.

Born and raised in the Manawatu, he became notorious in the mid-1980s when, known as Karl Sim, he was brought to court for forging the works of C F Goldie and Petrus van der Velden.

He was convicted on 40 counts, fined $1000, and ordered to paint the Foxton Town Hall and public toilets as part of 200 hours' community service.

Sim then changed his name to Carl Feodor Goldie so he could legally sign his Goldie works.

But did he paint the Lindauer in question?  Maybe the experts will let us know. 

And, when they do, they could hang it back on the wall, with a really interesting label underneath.

No surprises in the iBook bestseller list

iBooks US Bestseller List- Paid Books Week 10/18/15
1. See Me by Nicholas Sparks – 9781455520596 – (Grand Central Publishing)
2. The Survivor by Kyle Mills & Vince Flynn – 9781476783475 – (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
3. The Martian by Andy Weir – 9780804139038 – (Crown/Archetype)
4. The Murder House by David Ellis & James Patterson – 9780316337977 – (Little, Brown and Company)
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – 9781781105849 – (Pottermore)
6. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – 9780062429063 – (William Morrow)
7. Killing Reagan by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard – 9781627792424 – (Henry Holt and Co.)
8. Foreign Affairs by Stuart Woods – 9780698195028 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
9. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz – 9780385354295 – (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 9780698185395 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
11. Make Me by Lee Child – 9780804178785 – (Random House Publishing Group)
12. After You by Jojo Moyes – 9780698152045 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
13. Wrong by Jana Aston – 9780692527771 – (Rutherford Press)
14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – 9781781105856 – (Pottermore)
15. Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death Dual Edition by Stephenie Meyer – 9780316268684 – (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
16. Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts – 9781101146286 – (Penguin Publishing Group)
17. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 9781476746609 – (Scribner)
18. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – 9781466850606 – (St. Martin’s Press)
19. Grey by E L James – 9781101946350 – (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – 9781781105863 – (Pottermore)

Monday, October 19, 2015

NZ Bookshop Day at the Women's Bookshop!

Prizes, personalities & parties in the bookshop! 


An amazing line-up of wonderful people will sit reading in our bookshop window all day on Saturday 31 October!
10am Michele A’Court (comedian & author)
10.30 Theresa Gattung (businesswoman, author & philanthropist) &
Pip Greenwood
(leading corporate lawyer)
11am Jacinda Ardern (MP & member of Labour Shadow Cabinet)
11.30 Alison Mau (broadcaster, journalist & author)
12pm Bianca Zander (novelist) & Jaquie Brown (TV presenter & author)
12.30 Amanda Billing (actress, star of ATC’s Lysistrata)
1pm Dr. Siouxsie Wiles (microbiologist & Head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at Auckland University) with her daughter Eve
1.30 Kate De Goldi (novelist, reviewer & children’s book advocate)
2pm Sue Orr (novelist, short story writer & reviewer) & Paula Green (poet, reviewer & creator of popular blogs NZ Poetry Box & NZ Poetry Shelf)
2.30 Anne Kennedy (award-winning poet & novelist)
3pm Wendyl Nissen & Paul Little (journalists, authors, publishers, & promotors of healthy products)
3.30 Stephanie Johnson (award-winning novelist & reviewer)
4pm Kim Evans (baker extraordinaire who has recently opened a Little & Friday down Douglas St, 2 minutes from the bookshop!)
4.30 Charlotte Grimshaw (award-winning novelist & reviewer)

sale books.jpg
Champagne Party at 5pm! champagne143.jpg
Come back to the shop at 5pm for a glass of champagne & the announcement of the 50/50 WOMEN WRITERS SURVEY RESULTS, along with the FIVE winners of the top 50 books.
All welcome!
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Be in to win a book prize pack & $500 Booksellers Tokens!
Pick up a free colouring sheet from us (or download it from & bring it back completed to the bookshop by 5pm on NZ Bookshop Day (Sat 31 Oct).
Our winner will receive a book prize pack & will go forward to the National Competition ($500 tokens) judged by Jo Pearson, author/illustrator of All Good: A New Zealand Colouring Book.
An Evening with Geraldine Brooks

geraldine brooks.jpgPresented by the Auckland Writers Festival & Hachette Publishers, the wonderful Geraldine Brooks will speak about her brand new historical novel The Secret Chord.
Tuesday 17 November 7pm, Maidment TheatreBookings:
See you on Saturday 31 October – come & support your local independent bookshop!

Carole, Tanya, Patricia, Andrea & Zoe
The Women's Bookshop

105 Ponsonby Road, Auckland
(09) 376 4399

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tosca and WOW

I love Wellington audiences.  They are so exuberantly enthusiastic, and yet so well behaved.  We went to the magical World of Wearable Art (WOW) in the weekend, and the NZ Opera production of Puccini's famous opera, TOSCA, last night.

For both performances, the house was absolutely packed.  Not a single empty seat.  Throughout each show, the audience was raptly quiet, with just the occasional mass intake of breath or muted laughter to break the silence.  But then, when it was appropriate, the spectators went mad -- clapping, shouting, exuberant stamping of feet.   

The St James Theatre, where Tosca was presented, does not have a wide or deep stage -- though the upperworks are very high.  The designer took full advantage of this, with soaring scenery, many vertical panels, and a minimum of clutter on the floor.  In the first and third acts platforms were erected, the first with the artist's easel and the almost complete painting of a blonde, blue-eyed Madonna, and the last with a fenced outer wall, like the perimeter of some infamous war prisoner camp.  And, to suit, the time the opera was set in was brought up to the mid-twentieth century, complete with menacing Mafia henchmen.

Irish scientist-turned-diva Orla Boylen was Tosca, while New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill was Mario Caveradossi.  Both have heavenly voices, which soared effortlessly over the unrelentingly brilliant sound produced by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.  They are both in their forties, with a certain amount of middle-age spread, but they used this to great effect, to give an endearing impression of a mature couple who are absolutely devoted to each other -- an image that the audience took to their hearts.  If anyone ever wanted a happy ending, it was this Wellington crowd.

But of course romance was foiled by the sadistic Scarpia, the role held by New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, who was perfect in voice, acting, and appearance.  He played the ultimate preying Lothario, and has the dark good looks to suit, along with the lingering bedroom eyes.

The final scene, always a difficult one, was handled superbly.  The audience laughed when Tosca instructed Mario to fall carefully when he was shot -- "You don't have the stage experience that I do" -- and gasped with horror when the shot turned out to be real.

Personally, I was very pleased not to hear a scream and a thud after Tosca leapt from the prison wall.  Meaning that Orla Boylan lives to play yet another brilliant soprano role.

And, as I said, the applause was delirious.

And as for WOW.  Anyone who has the chance to watch the non-stop, scintillating spectacle that this show offers, and turns it down, hasn't lived.  Believe me, it is not just a parade of amazing costumes. It's an Experience.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TUPAIA en Francais

Hot off the press.
Just published by 'Ura Editions in Tahiti

The Amazing Maori Goldmining Expedition

Back in Riverton, Otago, New Zealand, in 1848, a schooner of 180 tons was launched.  Champagne being short, she was christened with a bottle of rum, and named Amazon, to the shouts of many Maori spectators.  She was the first vessel to be built there, and her owner and builder, Captain Howell, was properly proud of her. And her first voyage must be one of the strangest on record.

Her crew, except for a couple of mates, was entirely Maori.  They sailed her to Akaroa, the site of a failed attempt to make New Zealand French, where a party of the disappointed Gallic settlers hired Howell to carry them to Tahiti.

Howell and his Maori crew successfully landed the Frenchmen at Matavai Bay, but then found that the island was buzzing with the news of the discovery of gold up the Sacramento River, in California.  Captain Howell wasn't interested, but the Maori seamen wanted to sail there, to see some of this "gold" stuff that they had never heard of before.  There were men on the wharves of Papeete clamoring to buy passage to San Francisco, too, so Captain Howell gave in, and with a crew so eager to see what California was like, they made a very swift passage.

They sailed up the river, and set to digging for gold themselves.  And they were successful.  They struck it so rich that their camp attracted every ruffian in the valley.  The Maoris seemed easy game -- which they were most emphatically not.  In the melee, however, one of the ship's mates was killed.  So Captain Howell decided to go back to the schooner, and sail her home to New Zealand.

The Maoris made no objection.  In fact, they had been highly disappointed when they first saw what gold looked like.  They wondered why they had sailed so far, they said, when there was plenty of that stuff back in Otago, New Zealand.  Howell, as he said later, was struck dumb by this.  But then when they got back to Riverton his Maori seamen refused to take him to the areas where gold could be found.

They had seen too many of the bad things gold could do to men, they said.

From an item in the Evening Post of Wellington, 18 December 1937.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Bookbinder

Just back from the one-man one-hour show.  It's on at Circa Theatre, Wellington, at the moment.  Brilliant timing and storytelling.

It's great to be lost in a good book, but what can you hope (or dread) to expect if you get lost in a bad book?

It's the Sorceror's Apprentice, but all to do with bookbinding. 

Great review from the experts, too.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't fence me in


The apartment's government valuation was $1.6 million.  That value has been reduced by $900,000 because a neighbor built a fort for his children.

From Dominion Post

A Wellington couple have seen their million-dollar harbour views stripped away after the council signed off on an imposing playground next-door.

Peter and Sylvia Aitchison, who live in an apartment on Roseneath's sought after Maida Vale Rd, accuse the Wellington City Council of failing them in allowing the large wooden structure to be built on their boundary line.

The fort-like structure has completely blocked their view of Wellington Harbour, instead leaving them with a close-up view of wooden planking.

The Aitchisons went to the council when they became aware the owner of the neighbouring property, David Walmsley, planned to build the large wooden play area.

They argued that resource consent was needed but the council disagreed saying the structure met district plan requirements.

The turreted fort went up in a "considerable flurry of activity" and the Aitchisons took their dispute with the council to the Environment Court, court documents show.

They argued before the court that the structure, more than 11m long and up to 4m high, had "walled them in".

It had led to a loss of natural light and direct sun, as well as impacting on their privacy andproperty value.

It also had adverse effects on their health and well-being, they said.

Council City Planning and Design manager Warren Ulusele said while the council understood the impact of the structure on the Aitchisons, it was bound to follow the district plan.

He admitted there was an option for the council to go to the Resource Management Act and ask for resource consent when considering structures that posed significant adverse effects, he said.

This process had a very high threshold and was not an an option taken lightly, Ulusele said.  

However, the Environment Court said this was indeed a case for resource consent.

The council had made a mistake when it had decided the boundary between the two properties was at the top of a sloping retaining wall instead of at the bottom.

This impacted the height calculations and position of the structure in relation to building recession planes, the court said.

Instead of the structure's height being 2.5m from ground level on the Walmsley's property, which is permitted, it was 2.5m from the ground level of the Aitchisons' land.  

Ulusele said the council would respect the Environment Court ruling, which would have significant impacts on future residential developments on sloping land in Wellington.

The district plan would have to be reviewed in light of the Environment Court's ruling, and structures that would have been approved could be knocked back in future, he said.

Neither the Aitchisons nor Walmsley could be reached for comment.

Another shuddersome thought is the racket of children racing along that boardwalk on the other side of the fence.