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About the book
  • Published: 28 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781775538578
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99
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Love as a Stranger




'incredibly well crafted and as is traditional with Owen Marshall every single word is placed perfectly' - NZ Radio

Brilliantly tracing the progress of unexpected love and the perils of relationships, this gripping novel is a tour de force.

Temporarily in Auckland while her husband is undergoing treatment, Sarah enjoys a walk in the coolness of the Symonds Street Cemetery. As she pauses at the grave of Emily Keeling, murdered in 1886 by a rejected suitor, a stranger named Hartley strikes up a conversation. Before long he arranges to meet Sarah for coffee.

So their friendship begins, and soon blossoms into an affair, rich in mutual understanding and sexual excitement. But love may become obsession, which brings with it disquieting demands, even menace.

‘When love is not madness, it is not love.’

  • Pub date: 28 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781775538578
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

Owen Marshall

Owen Marshall, described by Vincent O’Sullivan as ‘New Zealand’s best prose writer’, is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, poet and anthologist, who has written or edited 30 books, including the bestselling novel The Larnachs. Numerous awards for his fiction include the New Zealand Literary Fund Scholarship in Letters, fellowships at Otago and Canterbury universities, and the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship in Menton, France. In 2000 he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to literature; in 2012 was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) and in 2013 received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction. In 2000 his novel Harlequin Rex won the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Deutz Medal for Fiction. Many of his other books have been shortlisted for major awards, and his work has been extensively anthologised.

In addition, in 2003 he was the inaugural recipient of the Creative New Zealand Writers’ Fellowship, and was the 2009/10 Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellow. In 2006 he was invited by the French Centre National du Livre to participate in their Les Belles Etranges festival and subsequent tour, anthology and documentary. He was the President of Honour of the New Zealand Society of Authors, 2007–08, and delivered the 2010 Frank Sargeson Memorial Lecture.

He was a school teacher for many years, having graduated with an MA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, which in 2002 awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, and in 2005 appointed him an adjunct professor.

See more at www.owenmarshall.net.nz.

Many leading contemporary writers have counted themselves amongst his admirers, including Janet Frame and Fiona Kidman, who wrote of his work, ‘I find myself exclaiming over and again with delight at the precision, the beauty, the near perfection of his writing.’ Writer, historian and literary biographer Michael King wrote of Marshall, ‘Quite simply the most able and the most successful exponent of the short story currently writing in New Zealand.’ In World Literature Today, Carolyn Bliss described Marshall as a writer who ‘speaks with equal intensity to the unbearable loveliness and malevolence of life’. Writer and academic Vincent O’Sullivan has claimed ‘nobody tells our [New Zealand] stories better’.

When Gravity Snaps, a collection of short stories that was runner-up for the 2003 Deutz Medal for Fiction, was described by Gordon McLauchlan in the Weekend Herald as displaying ‘the gift of telling stories that take hold of you in a personal way and bring echoes of people, places and events you have known, but not paid enough attention to at the time. It is a magical heightening of the ordinary.’

The short story collection Watch of Gryphons and Other Stories, shortlisted for the 2006 Montana Book Awards, ranges over a rich variety of subjects and settings, from Perugia’s ancient ruins to the South Island’s empty tussocklands, and displays the nuanced emotions which typify Marshall’s writing. The next collection, Living As a Moon, also shifts between European and Antipodean settings.

David Eggleton wrote of Owen’s poetry in The New Zealand Listener, ‘Marshall weighs his words as if regarding you with a raised ironic eyebrow. The poems employ the same bluff, resilient, yet harmonious language as Marshall’s prose.’
Marshall’s third novel, Drybread, combined elements of the thriller alongside a love story, exploring the ‘ambiguities of relationships’ (The New Zealand Listener).

Kelly Ana Morey, reviewing his next novel, The Larnachs, in The New Zealand Herald, described it as ‘a thoughtful, tender love story with ... an awful lot of lovely, restrained writing by Marshall’. The book is a fictional treatment of real events in the nineteenth century, and John McCrystal in The New Zealand Listener noted: ‘The Larnachs is an interesting development for Marshall. For many years pigeon-holed as a writer of realist fiction from a masculine perspective, he has proved himself far more than a one-trick pony. He has published two volumes of poetry and The Larnarchs is his fourth novel. Half of it is written from a woman’s point of view.’

Marshall has compiled two anthologies, Essential New Zealand Short Stories and Best New Zealand Fiction #6, and collaborated with painter Grahame Sydney and poet Brian Turner on Timeless Land, an appreciation of the landscapes of the Central South Island, which has been published in multiple editions.

Also by Owen Marshall

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Praise for Love as a Stranger

“The deft hand of one of New Zealand’s finest writers is everywhere in this deceptively simply told story of one woman’s transgression and one man’s unravelling. As the novel moves towards its climax the question is not if or when it will all end, but how.”

Helen Speirs, Otago Daily Times

“Owen Marshall: draws characters with near photographic realism. It is through the eye of a supremely empathetic god that Owen Marshall narrates his excellent latest novel Love as a Stranger. We are favoured with a view of the inner lives of two people as they find themselves fated to reiterate one of the oldest human stories. . . . the profound understanding of how the undercurrents of our personalities are mirrored on the surface . . . it is empathy that is the engine of Marshall's fiction, which enables him to make statements about the human condition that resound with the authority of aphorism. . . . His strongest work has always been informed by a sense of the paradoxical emptiness and richness of ordinary lives, of the sheer pleasure of being in spite of death and all its negations. . . . And that is the appeal at the heart of this novel, and in the end, at the heart of the human condition.”

John McCrystal, NZ Listener

“. . . another treat . . . incredibly well crafted and as is traditional with Owen Marshall every single word is placed perfectly . . . Every word perfect.”

Sonja de Friez, Radio NZ

“This is a wonderful story of human nature from Owen Marshall. It's also a study in writing as he builds the tension, page by page, exploring the lives of two ordinary people and creating both a love story and a thriller. The tension is in the mundane and it's easy to have empathy for both characters. This is a brilliant, enthralling piece of writing, as you would expect from an award-winning novelist, short story writer, poet and anthologist. Highly recommended.”

Kerre McIvor, New Zealand Woman's Weekly

“It is a love story, which becomes slightly dark and sinister as the story develops. It covers the themes of attraction and obsession, loss, jealousy and dysfunction. A great read.”

Gisborne Herald

“Love as a Stranger is a splendidly managed social portrait, shrewdly observed and gently described. It is also an excellent unfurling thriller as we are forced to witness an unravelling that will have uncertain and fearful consequences. Simple domestic situations develop Hitchcockian menace when we can no longer be secure in the romantic conventions that the novel invokes, only to subvert them in excruciating and unrelenting ways. We can't say we weren't warned: if it is not madness, it is not love. But, even as Marshall quickens the blood with his unfolding story, the novel brings a more enduring sense of tragedy and asks serious and poignant questions about how we conduct ourselves when we only have one life to live.”

Murray Bramwell, NZ Books

“Owen Marshall is widely acknowledged as this country's preeminent short story writer. It's his skill for accurately charting the nuances, affirmations and dysfunctions of human behaviour and relationships which is often the hallmark of his stories' excellence. As the author's new book, Love as a Stranger proves, he effortlessly and expertly translates this dexterity into the longer novel form. . . . Pragmatism meets idealism: this pair cancels each other's faults out, making their unusual late in life love affair positive, perfectly understandable and compulsively readable. More than this, though, Love as a Stranger's success relies upon the details of the relationship itself . . . Along the way, themes of attraction and compulsion, loss, jealousy and dysfunction dominate. Love as a Stranger starts as a sweet, albeit mature narrative about love, but it grows fabulously into a well-plotted study of the dark sides of human psychology.”

Weekend Press


Awards & Recognition

  • Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

    Shortlisted • 2017 • Ockham Book Awards


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