Take your pick of the best at WORD Christchurch

There is nothing like a book festival, the chance to luxuriate in an atmosphere charged with language, bathing your senses in rich text, balm to your soul.

At WORD Christchurch the words come flying off the page during readings, you will hear the inspiration behind your favourite authors work, you’ll be inspired to try new genres, enjoy poetry and become informed on global issues.

Book covers
WORD Christchurch related reading

So many authors will be present at this ear’s wonderful WORD Christchurch programme there is something for everyone but for me two sessions leapt off the programme’s pages. An hour with Dame Fiona Kidman our own literary giant and An evening with Justin Cronin and for someone new I have selected Canadian Tales: Elizabeth Hay. You may think a diverse choice but for me they are all powerful writers who hold you enthralled to the very end.

Fiona Kidman_c_Robert Cross_2
Fiona Kidman (photo credit: Robert Cross)

A little 1988 yellowed hard-covered copy of Unsuitable Friends has adorned my book shelf for many decades. It was my introduction to Dame Fiona Kidman’s work. Her characters struggle to free themselves from domestic constraints to achieve their dreams and to keep their moral compass. It is almost as if she is writing for her daughter who would be a contemporary of mine, as would she be of my mother. The book seemed written just for young women like me.

I remember arguments on the role of women in the house, Dad asserting that going to work had given my mother funny ideas! It was refreshing to read such vivid contemporary women’s fiction. No wonder she won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction that year.

Her urging of her female protagonists to not be bound by the constraints of their circumstance continued in her 2013 novel The Infinite Air about the enigmatic Jean Batten and in this year’s release All Day at the Movies. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The outsider status of these characters is what appeals to me and it is this that also appeals in Justin Cronin’s writing.

Justin Cronin - Photo credit Julie Soefer
Justin Cronin (photo credit: Julie Soefer)

Man’s responsibility to use scientific discovery to the benefit of the planet as well as humanity, and the need to look to technology to solve man-made environmental problems is a big theme at this conference. Justin Cronin’s apocalyptic trilogy about an escaped laboratory virus fits right in here.

Not one to usually read a vampire tale I started reading The Passage as a read-a-like for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It was some time before I realized I was reading a vampire novel but not like any you have ever read. It’s a rip roaring yarn with fear and violence and with a cautionary back story.

I am saving the end of this trilogy till I can reread the first two, there are so many back plots and references I want to read them all back to back. If you are a Game of Thrones fan you’ll love it.

Elizabeth Hay
Elizabeth Hay (image supplied)

For my last pick I wanted an author I knew nothing about and comparisons to Margaret Atwood and Annie Proulx mean she has got to be good, so I chose Elizabeth Hay. I’ve just started her much praised coming of age tale, His whole life, and it’s making me thirsty to read more. This Canadian has a lovely laid back style which entrances you and keeps you spellbound.

So why not make some picks of your own and join the party at WORD Christchurch.

More WORD Christchurch

Refresh your spirit, feed your soul

After the summer’s trials of cool weather and lack of rain, my tomatoes are still not ripe and I have had to rescue the wilting hydrangeas on more than one occasion. So where else after this indifferent summer in the garden should I go but to the delights of the Ellerslie Flower Show to refresh my spirit.

Cover of the Ornamental Edible GardenNow is the time to remind ourselves that gardening is not all work and no play, but rather a chance to create a place for our own enjoyment. As the summer draws closer to its end we can sit back and take time to enjoy the spoils of our labour.

All that work weeding, staking and deadheading is to create a place of beauty where we can take time to rest and recuperate at the end of a busy week. The Ellerslie garden designers have created plenty of those places that make the spirit soar and imagination take flight.

Every small patch of ground can become an urban utopia for your sensual delight and a little knowledge can go a long way, so I have taken to browsing the library shelves for inspiration for my own little plot. Could my vegetable and herb garden be a visual delight like the potager at the Curator’s House in the Botanic Gardens?

Or my deck showcase hypertufa pots decorated with rescued broken china? Ideas for creative planters, pots and bird baths abound in the landscaping and DIY sections of the library, and give you the practical nous to fulfill your dreams of what might be. Never mind that my herb garden has already had two attempts at redevelopment and the ingredients for hypertufa have been languishing in the garage for several years!

I have found more inspiration in our Zinio online gardening magazines.

Cover of Gardening AustraliaCover of Homes & GardensCover of The Kitchen Garden

Do you have any garden projects planned this autumn? What projects are languishing in your garden shed? Have you tried Zinio magazines yet?

Find out more about the Ellerslie Flower Show and garden resources here and view our flickr photos of previous Ellerslie shows.