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  • Published: 2 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781775535881
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $24.99

Landscape with Solitary Figure




A novel about the transporting power of the imagination, about overcoming violence, and about the beauty and resilience of a solitary life.

A novel about the transporting power of the imagination, about overcoming violence, and about the beauty and resilience of a solitary life.

Ellis has come to appreciate her solitary life, in her bungalow not far from the sea. As she looks from her window, she begins to find a way to confront and yet distance the past. Gradually, she edges towards and away from the time she moved to another town, the one she subsequently fled from.

It was in this town that she met the man who invited her to his dinner parties and who took particular interest in knowing her biggest fear. In revealing what he did to her, Ellis also describes how she survived . . .

Written in Shonagh Koea's distinctive style, this compelling novel is at times darkly humorous but also deeply unsettling.

  • Published: 2 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9781775535881
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Shonagh Koea

Shonagh Koea has published short stories, novels and memoir. North & South commented that‘Shonagh Koea has a command of prose, an originality of expression, a sophisticated wit and a richness of imagery, which makes her writing a delight.’She won the Air New Zealand Short Story Award (1981), her novel Sing to Me, Dreamer was a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards (1995), and The Lonely Margins of the Sea was runner-up for the Deutz Medal for Fiction (1999). She has held the University of Auckland Fellowship in Literature (1993) and the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship (1997).

Koea’s territory is ‘the contrast between domestic misery and various forms of withdrawal or escape’ (The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature), and she has been described ‘as addictive as nicotine or coffee — with, perhaps, major withdrawal symptoms’ (Nelson Evening Mail).

Poet Alistair Paterson said of Staying Home and Being Rotten, ‘This is not merely a good book, but a work of brilliance. It establishes Shonagh Koea as a leading New Zealand novelist and a writer of international significance.’

The Kindness of Strangers: Kitchen Memoirs is a collection of Koea’s memories from her various roles as daughter, wife, mother, journalist and novelist, and as such serves as a social history of New Zealand of the past 50 years. Reviewing it in The New Zealand Listener, Graeme Lay called it ‘a truly delectable read’. The New Zealand Herald wrote: ‘the ingredients in Shonagh Koea’s writing — among them a delicate yet incisive wit, keen perception, irony, and an abundance of sensuous imagery — are good enough to stand alone. Still, the 25 plain and tasty very mid-century New Zealand recipes are skilfully interwoven with the episodic memories they give rise to, and slowly build up a fascinating portrait.'

Also by Shonagh Koea

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Praise for Landscape with Solitary Figure

The long-awaited novel from Shonagh Koea is a pleasure in both presentation and text . . . This is a must-read for any lover of New Zealand literature in general, and of Shonagh Koea in particular.

Colleen Hartley, Otago Daily Times

This is a terrific book that slowly sneaks up on you, until you suddenly realise you're entirely in its grip.

Paul Little, North & South

I can't think when I last read a novel that entrapped me as thoroughly as this measured, insightful work . . . It's such a crafted novel . . . It's the minutiae I loved most . . . If this is your sort of novel, you will adore it.

Linda Burgess, NZ Listener

Landscape with Solitary Figure is often sad, it is also wryly resilient, darkly humorous and quite unsettling.

Dorothy Alexander, Manawatu Standard

With characteristic wit and irony, Koea explores a sinister past of abuse and exploitation . . . Koea’s characterisation of this ‘‘mellifluous’’ and ‘‘self-possessed’’ manipulator of women is in itself masterful. The novel is a study in pernicious and devious abuse, condoned and excused if the perpetrator is a popular bon viveur and pillar of the community. It reeks of a society that looks up to avuncular and apparently benign characters – shades of Jimmy Savile Down Under? The above may sound as if the novel is all dark and troubling. It is not. Koea’s wit lifts it. . . . It is always a treat to read a new Koea. Landscape with Solitary Figure shows Koea maturing into an expert at the suggestive power of detail. She has wrapped the core of abuse which lies at the story’s centre in layers of observation by a mind which, although it may be troubled, has not lost its sharpness. In Ellis’ case, seclusion seems eminently the best response. The escape from her past is a richly rewarding experience.

Steve Walker, Sunday Star-Times

It’s a gripping tale, from the opening paragraph to the final sentence.

Margaret Reilly, Horowhenua Chronicle

“… when you return to where you belong you find that you belong there no longer”, Landscape With Solitary Figure is the beautiful but quite ominous reminiscence of Ellis Leigh, a woman who has isolated herself in a cottage a short walk from the sea. . . . Landscape With Solitary Figure is beautifully produced, illustrated with flowers from the overgrown garden that is Ellis’ hiding place, and is a fine rendering of a fragile and damaged life.

alysontheblog, https://alysontheblog.wordpress.com/

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