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  • Published: 7 December 2012
  • ISBN: 9781775532866
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $24.99

The Book of Secrets




Winner of the Fiction category of the New Zealand Book Awards in 1986.

A classic, prize-winning novel about an epic migration and a lone woman haunted by the past in frontier Waipu.

In the 1850s, a group of settlers established a community at Waipu in the northern part of New Zealand. They were led there by a stern preacher, Norman McLeod. The community had followed him from Scotland in 1817 to found a settlement in Nova Scotia, then subsequently to New Zealand via Australia.

Their incredible journeys actually happened, and in this winner of the New Zealand Book Awards, Fiona Kidman breathes life and contemporary relevance into the facts by creating a remarkable fictional story of three women entangled in the migrations - Isabella, her daughter Annie and granddaughter Maria.

McLeod's harsh leadership meant that anyone who ran counter to him had to live a life of secrets. The 'secrets' encapsulated the spirit of these women in their varied reactions to McLeod's strict edicts and connect the past to the present and future.

  • Published: 7 December 2012
  • ISBN: 9781775532866
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Fiona Kidman

Fiona Kidman has published over 30 books, including novels, poetry, non-fiction and a play. She has worked as a librarian, radio producer and critic, and as a scriptwriter for radio, television and film. The New Zealand Listener wrote: ‘In her craft and her storytelling and in her compassionate gutsy tough expression of female experience, she is the best we have.’

She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships; in more recent years, The Captive Wife was runner-up for the Deutz Medal for Fiction and was joint-winner of the Readers’ Choice Award in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and her short story collection The Trouble with Fire was shortlisted for both the NZ Post Book Awards and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. Her novel This Mortal Boy won the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, the NZ Booklovers Award, the NZSA Heritage Book Award for Fiction and the Ngaio Marsh Crime Writing Award for Best Novel.

She was created a Dame (DNZM) in 1998 in recognition of her contribution to literature, and more recently a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. ‘We cannot talk about writing in New Zealand without acknowledging her,’ wrote New Zealand Books. ‘Kidman’s accessible prose and the way she shows (mainly) women grappling to escape from restricting social pressures has guaranteed her a permanent place in our fiction.’

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Praise for The Book of Secrets

The novel is truthful in the ways that history never is, in creating the lives of ordinary, important people.

Christchurch Press

In the craft of her storytelling and in her compassionate gutsy tough expression of female experience, she is the best we have.

NZ Listener

The Book of Secrets is . . . being hailed as Fiona Kidman’s best and most ambitious novel to date. It traces familiar ground in her work, women’s lives and intertwined histories, but lifts them into a wider and more reverberative fabrication.

Dominion Sunday Star Times

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