This collection of eleven short stories is about people and their lives, covering subjects like growing up, relationships and growing old. The themes are universal, but with a New Zealand background.
In SOLANUM we meet Fred, who likes to grow plants:
"Aubergines were Fred's favourite. Huge, dark and purple, warmed by the sun and with skin as soft and firm as a lovers. The dark skin conceals delicate creamy green flesh with a very special flavour. Even aubergines require caution because thestalks have sharp prickles, and the flesh, if over mature can be bitter and inedible.
When one of Fred's romances seemed to get started the lucky friend would be given some special potatoes When thingsseemed to be getting somewhere there would be a bag of acid free tomatoes. A selection of capsicums indicated that a degree of intimacy had been reached. Fre had never got so far as giving anyone aubergines."
Then there is THE BOY WHO TALKED TO TREES:
"What do you mean, you're dumb?"
"One of the big boys at schoolsaid I am dumb because I talk to trees
"I don't think that is dumb because I talk to trees, and sometimes I hug them. There's a big old pear tree in my garden, and when it loses its leaves in the winter I say to it - you've got a hard time ahead of you, but when you come into leaf in the spring you will be wonderful, and your pears will be even sweeter next year and they are."
"Do you really do that stuff?"
"Yes, but I usually do it in private. Ithink that big boy at school is the stupid one but I would not advise that you tell him."
"No, because he would probably thump me."
FAMILY SECRETS begins with:
"My fatherwas one of a family of six children, a generation stretching from the late nineteenth century well into the twentieth century. The oldest was Uncle VINCENT (Ced). Next my father, Arthur, followed by Uncle Henry, who we called the sandman because of his affliction. Then there were two sisters, Victoria and Mary. My grandmother, who named the girls was a royalist. My grandfather , who named the boys was more inclined towards repulicanism. Finally, nearly twentyfive years after Vincent the firstborn came Terence, who was conceived in a fit of patriotism during the celebrations at the end of the First World War. Like most families they all had their secrets.........