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Dear Oliver : Uncovering a Pākehā history - signed copies available.

$39.99 $29.99
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Product Description

A fresh way to look at New Zealand’s history

When writer and historian Peter Wells found a cache of family letters amongst his elderly mother’s effects, he realised that he had the means of retracing the history of a not-untypical family swept out to New Zealand during the great nineteenth-century human diaspora from Britain. His family experienced the war against Te Kooti, the Boer War, the Napier earthquake of 1931 and the Depression. They rose from servant status to the comforts of the middle class. There was army desertion, suicide, adultery, AIDS, secrets and lies. There was also success, prosperity and social status.

In digging deep into their stories, examining letters from the past and writing a letter to the future, Peter Wells constructs a novel and striking way to view the history of Pākehā New Zealanders.

Author: Peter Wells.

Paperback, 336 pp, 2018.

Recommended by Graeme:

"Peter Wells has been known as New Zealand’s leading gay writer for many decades with a long list of books (Dangerous Desires, Iridescence) to his name and also early fame as a film-maker (Desperate Remedies). Over the past ten years he has turned to writing non fiction and this latest book is a fascinating family history. In 2001, Peter wrote an earlier memoir Long Loop Home which detailed the complications that ensued when he decided at age eleven that his family couldn’t ‘afford’ to have two gay sons. This new book also explores the truncated life of his brother Russell who died in the early years of the AIDS crisis, but it is more about his complicated relationship with his mother. It is candid and unsparing portrait of a remarkable woman who lived to 100. In her old age, regal Bess is subjected to numerous indignities, as her body and mind begin to betray her. Wells also reveals her intimate secrets - a wartime romance when his father was overseas and which she kept mementos of, hidden away for decades. And perhaps there were even other lovers... But as well as examining his immediate family unsparingly, Wells also demonstrates his rigour as a researcher as he looks back at his descendants over almost 150 years. He narrates dramatic events that his family were embroiled in - the Napier Earthquake of 1931, the Boer War, and the war against Te Kooti. 

At the end of January 2019, Dear Oliver was long-listed for New Zealand’s most prestigious literary award. Peter Wells will be a popular favourite to win as he has endured a gruelling 18 months battling cancer, though he took the unusual decision to publicly document this experience on Facebook. In February he will launch a book Hello Darkness born from those social media posts, though it is also to be his last book. In December 2018 he announced on Facebook that his cancer had returned and that his doctors had informed him it was terminal. Peter Wells continues to bravely document his cancer journey on Facebook and the fact that it has now imposed a death sentence upon him."


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