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Comeuppance comes from unexpected directions.

This entertaining and insightful novel both skewers and celebrates small-town New Zealand.

Pat `Pearly' Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes.

But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?

Reviews

At its core, Pearly Gates surveys the human mindset, particularly sensibilities which are restricted by ambition, curtailed career, ageing and geography. Marshall's prose, which is as unadorned as the book's everyday lead, perfectly suits this careful cerebral uncovering. . . Pearly Gates offers us rural "mainland" life, its people and psychologies, the foibles and fortes. . . .As Marshall examines the good and bad sides of humanity, a gentle paced, deceptively dark novel ensues.

Siobhan Harvey, Weekend Herald

As with the big Canterbury sky, the shifts in Owen Marshall's world are slow and subtle. . . . Pearly Gates is a slow burn, utterly proficient in its characterisation, undramatic in its demonstration of the chinks in Pearly's homespun armour. . . . Pearly's self-regard is undone as Marshall's seventh novel takes the threads of his character's self assumption and gently pulls.

Sally Blundell, NZ Listener

Although there is much sharp-eyed and droll observation of small-town folk and foibles, this is really the story of a man on a journey towards understanding himself. . . . There is a lot of wisdom in these pages on all sorts of matters . . .

Paul Little, North & South

Owen Marshall carefully and with quietly dignified humour outlines life in a provincial Otago town. Marshall incrementally builds up small-town life, and the bustle, supposition, speculation, and all that it encompasses. Pearly is a gentle and affable if stuck-in-his-ways main character. While not holding the keys to heaven, he knows he is gatekeeper of the smooth running of the town and its people, and it is up to him, with his benevolent smile, to figure out how to do this, faltering as he strides on.

Jessie Neilson, Otago Daily Times

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780143773153

    February 5, 2019

    RHNZ Vintage

    288 pages

    RRP $38.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780143773160

    February 5, 2019

    Random House New Zealand

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

Extract

When Pearly was in a north-facing upstairs bedroom, he saw through the window a woman come briskly to the neighbour’s back door, which opened without the need for her to pause on entry.

He knew her, though. It was Deidre Utterspan.

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