Lizzie, Love Brenda Delmain, Longacre, Dunedin, New Zealand, 2006, 128 pages, paperback, NZ$16.95.
A strong young woman is Lizzie Kemp, a missionary’s daughter at Kerikeri in Northland in the 1830s. In Lizzie, Love not only does Lizzie have to help her mother through the depression that follows the death of her baby brother, but she herself is on crutches after a fever leaves her with one leg paralysed. Lizzie is indomitable, especially when a mission carpenter shows how splints can improve her mobility. Relations within missionary society, as well as with the surrounding Maori are well portrayed, and a visit by young Mr Darwin from the Beagle provides a fascinating discussion about the adaptation of the fantail.
This fine novel is a skilful evocation of what life was once like in New Zealand’s oldest surviving building, Kemp House.
First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on May 13th 2006.