> Skip to content
Read an extract About the book
  • Published: 3 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143770916
  • Imprint: RHNZ Black Swan
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $38.00

Leap of Faith




Breathing life into our past.

A vivid novel about ingenuity and hard slog, crooks and dreamers, bootleggers and love.

Billy is a young, impressionable dreamer. In 1907, he strikes off on his own, keen to prove himself an able worker on the new railroad. It’s being cut through steep mountainsides and across deep gullies to join the two ends of the Main Trunk Line. Also drawn to the remote worker settlements are miners from Denniston, young men fresh off the boat, sly-groggers, temperance campaigners, women following their menfolk, local Maori and a varied assortment of people after a new life or a quick buck.

Among them is a preacher, Gabriel Locke, who is running from a shady past and determined to avoid the daily grind. With untimely and suspicious deaths, the horrendous weather, impossible deadlines, the rugged landscape and a blossoming romance, it will take a lot more than a leap of faith for this disparate group to complete the railroad and build the magnificent Makatote viaduct . . .

  • Pub date: 3 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143770916
  • Imprint: RHNZ Black Swan
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $38.00

About the Author

Jenny Pattrick

Jenny Pattrick is an acclaimed historical novelist, whose The Denniston Rose, and its sequel Heart of Coal, are among New Zealand’s biggest-selling novels. They have also been republished in an illustrated edition. The former teacher and jeweller’s works include the Whanganui novel Landings, and Inheritance, set in Samoa, which, along with all her adult titles, have been number one bestsellers in New Zealand. Other titles include Catching the Current (2005), In Touch with Grace (2006), and Skylark (2012). In 2009 she received the New Zealand Post Mansfield Fellowship. She has been active in the arts community, and has also written stories, songs and shows for children.

Identified by Nicky Pellegrino as ‘one of this country’s most talented storytellers’, it has been said that she creates ‘an authentic stage for a cast of characters who interact in ways that always ring true’ (The Christchurch Press). Reviewing Landings, Graham Beattie concluded: ‘It is not surprising that she is one of NZ’s most popular contemporary novelists and this fine piece of historical fiction will further enhance that well-deserved reputation.’

Also by Jenny Pattrick

See all

Praise for Leap of Faith

“Jenny Pattrick's regular readers will come across old friends in this book. They'll also get exactly what they're hoping for - beautifully crafted fiction, history brought alive with colourful characters and a dynamic story. If you haven't discovered this author yet, this is a great introduction to her work. I think Jenny Pattrick is a national treasure. She keeps getting better and better!”

Nicky Pellegrino, NZ Woman's Weekly

“To combine murder mystery, historical romance and adventure yarn requires the sort of deft touch for which Pattrick is well known. Yet it's all in the service of a serious theme - the danger of zealotry - that's particularly relevant for our times. Her fans, if you'll pardon a cliche of which she would never be guilty, will not be disappointed.”

North and South

“With Leap of Faith, Jenny Pattrick gives a masterclass on how to write a historical novel. The characters and their stories come first, and the details of the past add context and richness but never dominate. Pattrick brings to life the struggle of the time through a cast of believable, sympathetic men and women and, in Locke, a satisfyingly complex villain. A fine novel. Recommended.”

Catherine Robertson, NZ Listener

“If you love Kiwi stories with a dash of history, then this is the one for you.”

Woman's Day

“Listeners will be so excited to know Rose is back . . . set around wonderful characters . . . . it's riveting stuff . . . appealing and easily accessible to read . . . a major achievement . . . even though we're reading about the past it's still very present.”

Ralph McAllister, Radio NZ

“New Zealand novelist Jenny Pattrick has done it again - breathing life into this country's past. This time: the building of the magnificent Makatote Viaduct. Foul weather, harsh landscape, dreamers, sly-groggers, camp followers, and a touch of romance.”

Megan McChesney, Next

“Once more Pattrick's writing vividly portrays the hardships experienced by the families, the constant rain, living in tents and the political issues of this period.”

Margaret Reilly, Hawke's Bay Weekend

“I really liked this one . . . a very good story about what life was like for these guys in the gangs and their families”

Joan McKenzie, Newstalk ZB

“Jenny Pattrick takes us on a journey into the world of early New Zealand railway work and its often dangerous environment. This book particularly appealed to me with Billy going out on his own at such a young age.”

Bay News

“Selected as one of the '100 Best Books of 2017'.”

Russell Baillie, NZ Listener

“Pattrick is an accomplished writer of historical fiction . . . and her handling of the historical content is as deft as the man she describes carrying dynamite sticks to the work site under his coat to keep it warm. She's gentle, but confident, and the book made railroad building a damn sight more interesting than it ever was in New Zealand high-school history lessons. . . . Pattrick does a wonderful job of describing the dour, harsh conditions of tent-city living for the railway workers . . .There are some cracking good characters in the yarn . . . an enjoyable read, overall, and long-time readers will be excited by her inclusion of her beloved character, Rose.”

Charlotte Graham, NZ Books


Related titles