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About the book
  • Published: 3 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9781775531562
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

Chance Is A Fine Thing

50 Years In New Zealand


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A compelling and thoughtful memoir about a significant figure on New Zealand's literary - and natural - landscape.

A compelling and thoughtful memoir about a significant figure on New Zealand's literary - and natural - landscape.

'The stories that I think worth telling are of how, as a young man, I left home on the other side of the world half a century ago and took the chance to become a New Zealander. More, of becoming a New Zealand writer now able to look back over 50 years and relate not only what happened to me, of how I grew up, but also something of how the country has grown and changed. It is about my developing relationship with my country and some of its people.'

As Philip Temple explains in his preface, this is about his life and the country he chose to call home. His memoir shows how he made this decision, how he left England at a young age, and how he came to explore and love this country, scaling its mountains and writing its stories. New Zealand has always pulled him back, despite adventures overseas, exploring previously unknown regions of the world, sailing in exciting waters, trailing through Europe, and a long love affair with Berlin. Despite all this, New Zealand became and remains his country.

In an honest and remarkably diverse appraisal of his life, he reveals his personal and professional relationships, including his search for his father, the failure of his marriage, difficult times working for the Listener, and his campaigning for MMP. It is also a fascinating account of how he has made a living as a full-time writer. Compelling, thoughtful and moving, this is an important view of the last fifty years.

  • Pub date: 3 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9781775531562
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the Author

Philip Temple

Philip Temple is an award-winning New Zealand author and photographer with more than 30 non-fiction books, novels, guides and children’s books to his credit.He is also a leading television documentary writer and editor, and was formerly features editor of The New Zealand Listener and associate editor of Landfall, and has worked as an outdoor educator. In his youth he was a prominent mountaineer, climbing in the Southern Alps, and making original explorations and first ascents in New Guinea and the sub-Antarctic. During the course of these he travelled with such legendary mountain explorers as Heinrich Harrer and H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman. He has a strong interest in ecology and was a vigorous campaigner for the MMP electoral system. Born in Yorkshire and educated in London, he emigrated to New Zealand aged 18, and now lives in Dunedin with his wife, poet and novelist Diane Brown. See more at www.philiptemple.com.

His first books recounted his own and other mountaineers’ exploits at home and abroad, including The World at Their Feet (winner of a Wattie Award in 1970). His later works include the bestselling Beak of the Moon and its sequel, Dark of the Moon, novels told through the eye of a kea; the European novels To Each His Own, White Shadows and I am Always with You; children’s books such as The Story of the Kakapo; numerous books about New Zealand, such as The Milford Superguide and Presenting New Zealand; and the multi-award-winning biography of the Wakefield family and early British settlement in New Zealand A Sort of Conscience. His autobiographical works include The Last True Explorer and Chance is a Fine Thing.

Philip has been the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow (1979), the Robert Burns Fellow (1980), the 1996 NZ National Library Fellow, and has been awarded a Berliner Künstlerprogramm stipendium in 1987 and the 2003 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers Residency. In 2005, he was invested as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Literature and was given a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. Upon examination of his work in 2007, the University of Otago granted the Philip the higher degree of Doctor of Literature (LittD) in recognition of his work.

The Nelson Mail said of Temple’s account of his expedition to West Papua’s central highlands with Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, The Last True Explorer, ‘absorbing, dramatic, funny and poignant, it is a good read and a great adventure story’. The Dominion Post concluded: ‘Impressive as the climbing tales are, it’s the cultural and personal stories … that really make it memorable and moving … The result is a wonderful book.’

The Otago Daily Times described the novel White Shadows: Memories of Marienbad as ‘enormously satisfying; a beautiful mood piece’. The Herald on Sunday called it ‘a joy’ which ‘reminds one of the serious, thought-provoking work of German author Herman Hesse’. Incorporating history, memoir and photography with fiction, the Waikato Times found that these elements contribute ‘interestingly to the slightly mysterious, slightly worn ambience of the setting’.

Denis Welch, in The New Zealand Listener, described Temple’s memoir Chance is a Fine Thing as ‘vigorous’ and ‘page-turning’ and tackled with ‘finesse and a certain fearlessness’, and the Dunedin Star as ‘insightful and a delight to read’. The Wanganui Chronicle wrote: ‘This memoir skips across so many facets of his versatility, and is probably a microcosm of some of his earlier work.’

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Praise for Chance Is A Fine Thing

“He thinks, acts and writes like a born-here New Zealander and does so with style and skill. His book is insightful and a delight to read.”

Dunedin Star

“Temple’s memoir is a great read. He reveals the challenges of immigration and integration from an insider’s and outsider’s point of view. His portrait of New Zealand from the 1950s to today is by turn affectionate and impersonal, biting and grateful.”

Daily Post

“For those not familiar with Temple’s adventures, this book will be a revelation. It is also a good read. He is never boring, even when writing about himself.”

Bay Weekend


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