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Funny and moving, Laurence Fearnley's new novel subverts notions of 'man vs wild' while showcasing female experience through encounters with family, friends and the natural world.

Funny and moving, this novel subverts notions of 'man vs. wild' while showcasing female experience through encounters with family, friends and the natural world.
Loretta is a school librarian, who embarks on compiling The Dangerous Book for Menopausal Women while waiting to collect her son from after-school activities.

Chance is a teenager, who discovers an unusual creative outlet to offset the strain of her controlling mother.

Riva is the founder of a wetlands sanctuary, who is seeking a way to fulfil her promise to her dying sister to do something 'absolutely spectacular'.

Within a clearing in the woods by a lake stands a den, a secret sanctuary and eventual meeting place for all three women . . .


One of the greater strengths of Laurence's writing is her characterisation and the sense of self you get with these three very different women is superb, and I'll have to give Laurence the grand award for creating the most truly unlikeable mother ever . . . A quietly yet really strongly told tale . . . great humour, gorgeous quirkiness and it's a real celebration of individual spirit. We get to see a lovely shared sisterhood across these three generations of women and the value of friendship and support that they can give each other . . . thoroughly enjoyed this book and enjoyed each of these women . . . and loved that I hated a character . . great book.

Vanda Symon, Radio NZ

You know you are reading a good book when you find that the author seems to be inside your own head, and knows your secret thoughts. While the story itself twists and turns between the main characters, it is the inner thoughts which are so clearly expressed that resonate with me. . . . The writing is beautiful and captures the place as well as the emotions in this corner of the South Island. . . . The title, the cover and the chapter illustrations add an extra layer of beauty to the story with detailed plant sketches. Truly spectacular.

Kathy Watson, Booksellers New Zealand's blog

Dunedin writer Laurence Fearnley examines mother nature and the nature of mothering in her latest novel, The Quiet Spectacular. . . . Fearnley's hallmarks of characterisation and a keen eye for the natural world are here in spades, so I'm sure this book will appeal to many. (And the botanical cover is simply gorgeous!)

Helen Speirs, Otago Daily Times

Laurence Fearnley's new novel is a lovely read, a moving read. . . . It is a novel of so many things - friendship, dangerous women, smothering mothers, dutiful daughters, undutiful daughters, land care, books. It is a novel of ideas and it is a novel of empathy. . . . This is measured, exquisite writing from the New Zealander. Encyclopaedic at times, lyrical at others. Sharp little anecdotes stand out like hyper real moments that cut into you as you read . . . The book struck such a chord with me because it gets to the core of what makes three distinct women tick - with warmth, acumen and writerly craft. Perfect title.

Paula Green, Dominion Post

The two final words "quiet" and "spectacular" very much apply to the characters and the plot . . . architecturally and structurally it's as satisfying as all Laurence's other books, she really is a very able craftsperson.

David Hill, Radio NZ

Laurence Fearnley occupies a position somewhere between national treasure and experimental writer. . . . What I find most thrilling about her work is its compulsion to risk the thrills of plot and pageant for the unobtrusive incidents of the everyday. While I'm sure there are many who are drawn to Fearnley for her status as an archetypal New Zealand writer, I admire her courage to challenge our expectations for story laden with the obstreperous pleasures of plot and spectacle.

Thom Conroy, NZ Books

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    June 27, 2016


    304 pages

    RRP $38.00

    Online retailers

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

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    June 27, 2016

    Penguin eBooks

    304 pages

    Online retailers

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

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