A prize-winning novel from a bestselling author.
Rich in myth, mystery, warmth and wit — a touching novel about what it means to be alive.
When April Turner’s small son is killed by a car, she decides she is no longer entitled to anything but the barest existence. Five years on, she has shed everything and everyone she loves, and expects to be this way for ever. Then a letter arrives from an English solicitor, informing April that she is the last surviving heir to Empyrean, a long-abandoned country house.
At first, April resists. But with the letter comes a map full of tiny mysteries, and she is drawn all the way from New Zealand to the English countryside, and into a small but intriguing circle of people: musician Oran, who remains loyal to his faithless wife; Jack, who lives wild in the woods with a dog; and Sunny, Lady Day, approaching ninety but more vital than others half her age.
Sunny knew Empyrean in its prime, and her stories bring the past to life. But will April be prepared to give up her principles and start coming alive again herself?
Winner of the Nelson Public Libraries’ Award for NZ Fiction 2015
“Catherine Robertson's fourth novel, The Hiding Places, is exceptionally well written and very charming, a likeable story that skips along nicely against a carefully detailed, picturesque vision of the English countryside and its eccentrically lovable local characters, allwith a hint of fairy-tale magic. . . . Robertson's writing is capable of carrying more weight than it bears here: references to Goethe, Shakespeare, Dickens and Dante offer further and deeper layers of meaning, the dialogue is witty, the characters rounded and credible,the action well-paced.”
Louise O'Brien, NZ Listener
“This is NZ author Catherine Robertsons fourth novel and by far her best. It is full of warmth and wit and makes great reading for these cooler days.”
“Catherine Robertson’s brilliantly crafted narrative is undoubtedly the product of meticulous research and imagination. . . . The novel is a fresh blend of vivid imagery and fine insight. Robertson’s clever use of humorous puns and myriad references to culture, folklore and classical antiquity enliven the story and give it a touch of intellectual colour. . . . This novel is an original and quietly invigorating masterpiece from a successful New Zealand author. I’ll have her know I loved it instantly.”
Azariah Alfante, http://www.nzbooklovers.co.nz/book-reviews/general-fiction/the-hiding-places-by-catherine-robertson/
“Any story, any history, only matters if we care about the participants, and right from the prologue – written through the perceptions of a dying man – Robertson makes sure that we do. . . . The writing is assured and insistent, but also surprising and shrewd, often funny or . . . ironic. . . . Complex in their psychology, unique in their idiosyncrasies, and mercilessly talkative, these characters can be irritating as well as endearing, but they are undeniably real. . . . The plot is cleverly manipulated to ensure we don’t discover too much too soon, the writer drip-feeding us a large body of information over time, none of it redundant to her (which become our) concerns. Above all, she hands over her small gifts in a context and within an atmosphere that make them seem something other than small. I will remember from this novel a very particular place described at many different times, where some things stand out, because they seem familiar by the end. The inside of a tent at the village show, for instance, in the ‘warm, wet weather’ of early summer: ‘hot enough to extract the scents of flowers and greenery, vegetables and earth, and mix them headily with damp clothes and a whiff of lifestock’.”
Helen Watson White, Landfall Review Online
“Amidst all the high drama and emotions Robertson’s touch can be light – such as the lovely way she allows April to finally be able to talk about Ben’s father. Yes The Hiding Places is a study in grief and penance but it is also an affirmation of the insistence of life, the power of new growth – the continually waxing and waning of the power within nature, and within us all.”
“Where is the line between popular and literary fiction? If the latter is rich with poetic language and literary references, then Catherine Robertson has crossed it. But if popular fiction aims to entertain and to comfort above all, then Robertson has a foot on either side. Her previous three novels fall firmly in the popular fiction camp, but The Hiding Places is a compelling hybrid.”
Sarah Laing, NZ Books
“A rich, warm-hearted tale about a broken woman and a derelict house being restored to life.”
Nicky Pellegrino, Herald on Sunday
“Robertson also draws on older mythological traditions — Herne, Arthur, Blodeuwedd — to inform the narrative, and her characters retain the idiosyncratic charm that has become something of a literary signature. If you enjoyed her previous novels, The Hiding Places is well worth a try. ”
Cushla McKinney, Otago Daily Times