Dogside Story – Patricia Grace

READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Jo

Conflict in a North Island whanau means one man must reveal a great secret.

⚑ “Considered one of NZ writer Patricia Grace’s masterpieces, Dogside Story presents a portrait of Maori: their powerful connections to the land, ocean and to whanau, and the importance of storytelling.

“Set prior to the Millennium, the story takes place in a rural community born of a family feud. The resulting split sees the establishment of two villages, one either side of the river, referred to as Dogside and Godside. Years pass and younger people move away or adopt modern ways threatening the erosion of tradition. Yet the bonds somehow remain, as do the secrets and feuds, especially for one of the main characters Te Rua who is burdened with revealing all in order to claim his daughter. 

“There is a universality and humanity in Grace’s characters, as well as desperate tragedy that flows and ebbs like the rhythm of the ocean which the characters are intrinsically linked to. All the freerangers agreed the narratives of the many characters were powerful and highly developed and as such formed the foundation to the novel, a literary feat that deserved its Man Booker nod in 2001.”

“However for some of us the many characters were a little burdensome. Their individual personalities and genealogies were difficult to sort, resulting in a clunky reading experience in the opening chapters. Each character’s energy and nature did become more obvious as the pages ticked over and storylines developed, and it was here that the real joy of reading Dogside Story began.

“Jo however was hooked from the outset. ‘Each character’s voice was distinct and easy to follow as the wonderful dialogue unfolded. I was right there beside them the whole way and I could hear Patricia Grace’s conversations all day in my head, they were so genuine.’

“Aside from the family dramas, there is also the wider story of the East Coast and the expected influx of tourists eager to be among the first in the world to see the new Millennium sunrise. It was a demonstration of how traditional Maori communities are developing – for better or worse – in reaction to modern times, technologies and incomers arriving en masse.

“As usual Grace encourages the reader to find their own comfort level of tradition and modernity all the while providing the perfect mix of entertainment, history lesson and thought topic.”

—–

Published 2001
Penguin
301 pages

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