Today we have a review from Fran, she blogs at http://disappearinginplainsight.com/
Fran chose to read and review Bend With the Wind by Suraya Dewing
4 stars on Amazon
Title: Romance, Maori Traditions and Suraya Dewing’s Adept use of Language
Bend with the Wind is a novel that provides breathtaking descriptions of New Zealand locations, a good bit of history with an inspiring focus on Maori traditions and a romance that is not accepted on either side of a racial divide.
Sophie is a white, privileged, young woman who steps out of her own comfort zone and that of her parents when she falls in love with Joe, a Maori police man who has his own struggles – neither fully accepted by his Maori people or the white police force he is part of. The parts of the story I enjoyed the most revolved around the ways Sophie and Joe go about meeting the challenges of their evolving relationship.
Much of the couple’s early struggles are set against a protest of the 1981 Springbok soccer team’s visit to New Zealand. Sophie, an idealistic, student activist, is right in the middle of the protest opposing the team’s visit due to South Africa’s system of apartheid. Joe finds himself on the opposite side of the mess as a police officer who has to remove the protesters. There is a good deal of irony in all of this as Joe must act against his own people and his ideals while Sophie, the rich, white girl ends up on the receiving end of the violence set in motion by the protests.
This novel involves some time-shifting from the present to the not so distant past and then the distant past. Each time the reader is shifted from the past to the present he or she comes with a few more pieces of the puzzle the author has woven. For me, this time shift worked well between present day Sophie and Sophie as a young woman. I did feel as though the 1800’s Maori history with Te Whiti o Rangomai took me too far from the story I wanted to read. But that is only one reader’s opinion.
The book is worth reading for the romance, for the wealth of information on Maori traditions and for Suraya Dewing’s adept use of language. Consider this description of a street – “ . . . bright with flashing neon, car-beams and light-leaking shop fronts.” Brilliant. And these few lines could be autobiographical – “She was back being a word washerwoman, carrying her sentences in a basket, shaking them out and hanging them with care on the line, placing them in the sun to dry.”