The Novels (for details on the availability of Lynley's publications click on BOOKS above)
'There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are'
W. Somerset Maugham
Before she married dour Scotsman Gus McCallum, Cecily was a Daubeny, a descendant of a thirteenth-century crusader from the Channel Island of Jersey. As she, too, travels far from home – first to Scotland, and then, in the 1920s, to the wild and remote south of New Zealand – she carries with her the spirit of this long dead ancestor and the name he bequeathed her.
Cecily finds a lasting love on her voyage across the world, but Byron Kelly is a priest and she is a married woman, their relationship being the catalyst for both breakdown and redemption. Life in New Zealand, through Depression, war and personal struggle, is hard and full of sadness, but hope is restored – both for Cecily and for the generations who come after her.
A touching and memorable love story in the tradition of Colleen McCulloch’s The Thorn Birds, this compelling saga is also a tale of journeys and war, of mothers, sons, daughters and sisters. The brittle yet enduring bonds of blood and the compulsion to find one’s roots lead to a jolting confrontation with today’s international problems.
Set in Scotland and London, New Zealand, Germany and modern Jerusalem, Ithaca is a beautifully written and evocative portrayal of loss, alienation and hope.
Published by LRH, 2009.
‘A sweeping, moving and inspiring love story. A treat to read. Lynley Dear is one to watch.’
'I loved it and I don't say this lightly. After 30 years experience in the trade, I know a good thing when I see it.'
Chief Executive, Murdoch Books, Australia
IMPRESSIVE DEBUT DESERVES ATTENTION.
'Lynley Dear's first novel, ITHACA, seems to be flying under the radar since its release late last year, so I am glad to be able to sing its praises.
. . . a family story across several generations in carefully crafted prose. Given the beauty of some of the phrasing, it is evident the author is a poet. Dear strikes a balance between dramatic tension and credible emotion and the result is poignant and accomplished. . . ITHACA is an impressive debut and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.'
Otago Daily Times. (12/6/10) Read the full review!
‘One of the most moving stories I’ve read for a very long time. This book will resonate with many people because it lifts the curtain on a part of our history that we seldom talk about, let alone acknowledge. Truly I believe Lynley Dear has written a bestseller. In the end, I couldn’t put it down.’
Clive Lind, journalist, author and Editorial Development Manager for Fairfax Media
CAPTIVATING, INTIMATE READ
‘. . . In publishing terms, Ithaca is an immodestly big, ambitious story for a fictional debut. For most of its 370 pages this story spans four generations of mothers and daughters in New Zealand, and their menfolk, from the 1920s to the present . . .
It would be a disservice to think of any novel this beautifully crafted as some sort of sprawling saga. Nothing in Ithaca sprawls. It captivates on each step of the journey as an intimate read populated by vivid and mostly sympathetic characters, its period detail evoked with educated lightness. It is epic only in hindsight. Give it just a few pages to attain uplift and you’ll find yourself wafting through the storytelling slipstream, pausing only to savour a particularly luminous description, or to recognise the bestirring of your own family memories. . . you will be left lightly touched but unexpectedly moved.’
Michael Fallow (extracts from Southland TImes review.)
POPPY BOYS, 2010 and 2015
Poppy Boys falls between the definitions of fiction and non-fiction, which is why I have sub-titled it ‘an interpretation’ rather than a novel.
My intention has been to commemorate four brothers of one family who attended Southland Boys’ High School, Invercargill, New Zealand in the late years of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth centuries. They were of that unlucky generation whose young manhood collided with the then so-called Great War. The four brothers were Reginald, Victor, Herbert and Julian Christophers.
I have tried to write creatively within the framework of the historic events recorded. This has enabled me to penetrate the soldiers’ thoughts, feelings, hopes, frustrations and fears in ways I can readily guess at - but cannot know. In other words, placing the Christophers brothers within my creative interpretation has let me - and consequently you too, the reader - be right there with them.
As researcher of the dead of two World Wars from Southland Boys' High School, and as the mother of sons, I have visualised acutely the impact on bereaved parents and the intense detail of the horrors to which these young men fell victim. My motivation for writing this book has been simply a wish to help others see our commemorations of war as more than the moving ceremonial but as a means of identifying with the young men who experienced the brutal reality behind the war memorials and Anzac parades.
This book is also as strong a condemnation as I can express of the continuing senseless squandering of young lives. Of course what you will read is in memory of all the young men killed and damaged by the twentieth century’s wars and, by depressing extension, the wars which are continuing into the twenty first century.
It has been possible to give my characters authentic voices by researching the actual experiences of soldiers as expressed in other publications. For details of military engagements, I have deliberately used sources published as close to the actual events as possible.
Published by Craigs, 2010 and Southland Museum, 2015
A GREAT READ
'Like Steven Spielberg, Invercargill author Lynley Dear has made the story a mix of fiction and non-fiction, using the true story as inspiration. The result is what she has subtitled an interpretation rather than a novel. This was an incredibly clever move because it gives the reader the opportunity to get inside the heads of the main characters, four young men, the Christophers brothers of Invercargill, and has allowed Dear to make their stories flow in a way that wouldn't have been possible if this had been written as a non-fiction historical account of the events. And it's the getting inside their heads and getting to know them that makes this book such a good read'.
'...For me it was the gritty realness of the story in its quieter times that struck a chord: the fear, bravery and honesty. And there was also empathy for a mother facing the possibility of having to bury all four of her sons. Poppy Boys has that very same impact, making you care about the brothers so that even though you know the outcome of each of their stories, you are still a little shocked when death inevitably happens to each of them. There's also a twist at the end that makes a valid statement about the squandering of young lives. This book is a great read but it's also much more than that: it's an important record of what happened to a generation of young men and the families they left behind'.
Gillian A. Aitken, Southland Times. Read the full review!
THE HOLLYWOOD SCHOOL of DRESSMAKING, 2015
When the camera rolls who can tell what is a movie script and what is real life? It is 1929 and few people are who they say they are when Hollywood on Tour comes to town to make a movie with a scattering of Stars plus throngs of star-struck locals.
So when Hollywood on Tour collides with the innocent young local seamstresses of the Hollywood School of Dressmaking, the consequences of these ten hectic days are both hilarious and tragic.
Real life turns out to be much more complicated than the twists and turns of the plot of this pioneering Talkie.
A heady combination of seat-of-the-pants movie making and Art Deco flapper fashions result in a novel, which is an entertainingly fresh colonial take on the stylish age of Gatsby.
BOOKS THAT SPEAK TO US
There are many reasons for buying Lynley Dear's latest, The Hollywood School of Dressmaking.
Lynley Dear - could there be a nicer name? - writes so surely with such knowledge and know how, of a time we cannot actually remember yet feel we know well.
A time when anything dubbed Hollywood had the pull of Nike or Apple today - and by some magic coincidence, both the Hollywood School of Dressmaking and a fledgling movie making company, Hollywood on Tour meet up.
The year was 1929, flappers getting shingle cuts and deep wave Marcel perms. The Hollywood School franchise for teaching basic sewing to young women - lived upstairs in an Arcade. Ms Dear finds the blue and yellow stairs and the clangy iron gateway that closes at night - found it all and brought a whole back story to life, breathing the passion, romance and daring of a different day.
Lucky to have Lynley Dear, clever poetic writer, showing us fun, jazz and gloss in the south three generations back.
Pat Veltkamp, Fairfax NZ
THE HOLLYWOOD SCHOOL OF DRESSMAKING
As the title and evocative cover suggest, this romp is a convergence of Hollywood, fashion and love but before you open the pages of Lynley Dear’s latest book, before you immerse yourself in Dear’s entertaining novel go to YouTube (or your record collection) and play The Pasadena Roof Orchestra. This book jazzes along like an expertly executed Charleston in the age of Gatsby.
The author draws the reader into the roaring Twenties and the new film innovation called Talkies that has taken the world by storm. When Hollywood on Tour hits town, ‘Daughter of The South’ is about to be filmed and everyone wants a piece of it - or, better still, a part in it.
The excitement hits the inhabitants of the town, especially the young women attending The Hollywood School of Dressmaking. Darning, buttonholes, turning collars, even the making of a wedding dress, take second place when the ‘star’ Alma Hicks arrives in town. Alma (is that her real name?) contrives (with help) to create a new persona and finds unexpected love. D’Arcy Dark (is that his real name?) plays a mysterious part (as his name suggests), as does the new and very glam 'French' Madame Élise (is that her real name?), tutor of the Hollywood School of Dressmaking. Edna and friend Pearl’s new and terribly modern hair styles transform both into the flappers they long to be, with unexpected results - and Rose’s life takes a dangerous U-turn. The exquisite detail of fabric and fashion is all encompassing as the performers swirl against the backdrop of a small town cast in a Hollywood spell.
" The weekend in this southern town in the spring of 1929 had crept by like tacking threads laboriously pushed into canvas with a blunt needle. But the week that followed was a swiftly sewn seam fleeing an accelerating treadle. "
Lynley Dear creates a cast of characters of that time, each one believable, innocent, funny and sympathetically portrayed. The reader begins to realise that no matter the era, humans don’t change much. This story is as much about now as then; a sexy rollicking foxtrot that will appeal to all ages. Hopefully this novel is a taster for the author’s next book? I love the characters and I would love to meet them again.
Lynley Dear is a master of many genres as she has previously written children’s stories, poetry, war history and of course Ithaca, Dear’s beautiful novel of love, loss, and immigration, set in New Zealand’s South.
Maggie Wilkinson, Bay of Plenty Writers' Association
NATIONAL LIBRARY of NEW ZEALAND REVIEW
Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning. 7 Feb, 2012
Excerpts from a review by reader, Glenda, in answer to a question, 'What is it about fiction that I find so fulfilling?
'I have just finished reading a most enjoyable novel (Ithaca by Lynley Dear) and have been pondering on what it is about reading a good fiction book that makes me sigh, want to read more and want to find someone to talk to about it.
This particular story was made up, but was based on real life. It felt real to me. I was transported to a different time but I could relate to each of the characters. I could relate to the plot. I could relate to the place or setting.
In other words, I felt connected. And I gained through reading it.
I gained insight into human motivation and family relationships
I grieved with human alienation and loss
I was inspired by human loyalty and hope
I was frustrated by human frailty
I felt enormous empathy and compassion for the characters
I was confronted by historical and current international problems
I was left wondering about the feelings and circumstances of my own ancestors' migration to New Zealand.
I highly recommend Ithaca by Lynley Dear. This beautifully written novel spans family generations in Scotland, London, New Zealand, Germany and modern Jerusalem.
I was deeply absorbed by this story and couldn't put it down. I wanted to follow through after the book had finished and find out, 'What next?'
A STITCH IN TIME, 2017
A new novel by Invercargill author Lynley Dear
Invercargill based author Lynley Dear's latest novel, A Stitch in Time.
We know so little of the horrors of the Great Depression that defined the 1930s until the outbreak of war at the end of that decade. We know more of the world wars and that big flu which killed thousands. But of the Depression we know little.
I inherited dozens of tins of Brasso from my dear mother who loyally bought a tin from every unemployed man who came round selling them. So I have had enough Brasso to clean domestic and church brass for half a century. But what really happened so that guys did "make work" on schemes to earn a family feed or went away and dug the Milford Tunnel or the roads round Lake Wakatipu for a pittance ?
Interestingly the Depression, which was world-wide, is the background of the latest novel from Southland treasure Lynley Dear. It is set in Sydney with flashbacks to its predecessor The Hollywood School of Dressmaking set in Invercargill, the said "School" in Cambridge Place where still blue and yellow painted stairs lead to a second floor. The stairs are still there, though the colours are now a memory.
In Stitch in Time we again have Lynley Dear's lovely turn of phrase as in the wide expanse of Sydney harbour "corseted" by the newly erected iron bridge opening in 1932.
Five Southlanders, characters we know from Hollywood (published 2015) go to Sydney seeking streets paved with gold as poverty bites hard here.
No place was better than another, then.
A Stitch in Time is a good story and stands alone but I was pleased to have read Hollywood first and think it worth seeking out. I love when you can recognise shops and streets and institutions – even the Sydney Harbour bridge counted for me.
Strangely enough I was startled when I read that the story was set in the Depression. But then saw Michael Fallow's description of the story's "Depression era burden handled with delicacy and lightness of spirit" and thought, couldn't have said it better myself.
Lynley Dear has a lovely touch. She writes as a woman but please, don't call it chick-lit.
It is a good Christmas gift. Mine is for my brother.
Pat Veltkamp-Smith, Stuff News