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Shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards.

An internationally acclaimed novel, the Kirkus Reviews wrote, ‘Shrewdly balanced between earthy tenderness and the dreadful trauma of disillusionment: a grave yet limber narrative - and a very welcome import.’

In a strange old building referred to as Paddy's Puzzle, Clara Bentley endures the fears of wartime and awaits the arrival of her lover, Ambrose. He's an American Marine. And he's black. Having grown up in suburban Hamilton, her move to Auckland marks an escape from the dreariness and restrictions of her childhood. In this building, full of an odd assortment of people, she waits, not just for Ambrose, but for the air-raid siren, for the culmination of her illness and for the sister to whom she dreads having to explain her new life in the Puzzle.

The novel was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards. The San Francisco Chronicle commented: ‘The supple flow of Kidman’s language is a pleasure to read. She’s particularly alive to the sudden swelling of emotion just below the surface of a carefully worded conversation. And she tosses off startlingly true images in the most offhand manner.’

Formats & editions

  • EBook


    December 1, 2012

    Random House New Zealand

    220 pages

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