The Hut Builder – Laurence Fearnley

Chosen by Jo

Set in NZ’s deep south, a man at sorts with life finds himself on a mountain with Sir Ed Hillary. 2011 NZ Book Awards winner.

◉ “Getting to know Boden Black is a slow process – he turns out to be a quiet, reflective person with some poignant insights. His mother’s consuming depression casts a dark shadow over his early life and a strange parental surrogacy ensues as a way for Boden to escape into a warmer brighter family life.

“Boden experiences an epiphany on encountering the incredible Mackenzie basin which leads to a lifetime of poetry juxtaposed with a living as a butcher. His appreciation of nature is expertly expressed – I especially loved the hut scene on Mt Cook. Although not a hugely memorable book to me and Boden didn’t seem particularly strong or well defined it was a comforting interesting story.” – Jo

◉ “Like Laurence Fernley and her protagonist Boden Black, I too have an affinity with the Mackenzie district. I have not climbed any mountains but I have spent a lot of time there and I appreciate its arid beauty. Which, I guess, is why I enjoy Fearnley’s books so. She uses the contemplative calm of the environment to build her characters and so everything in the novel is harmonious.

“Like Mt Cook, Boden is a solitary figure, a loner, though not out of touch with reality. Ultimately the book is his life story, about his search for identity. Occurrences such as an accidental mountain climb with Sir Ed, unknown relatives popping out of the woodwork, and of course his assistance with hut building on snowy slopes, help him discover who he really is, in this lifeless environment full of solitary things that fit in.

“It is not a book full of action or surprises, more a steady trek through one man’s life and challenges, that leaves you with a wee smile on your face at the conclusion.” – Rachel

Published 2010
Penguin Random House
246 pages

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