Friday, November 23, 2007


Title: Amber
Author: Deborah Challinor
Publisher: Harper Collins

Deborah Challinor returns to delight her fans with her new novel “Amber,” the sequel to her highly successful novel “Kitty.” Fast becoming a New Zealand literary star, Challinor once again serves up a fast paced, easy to devour novel with her trademark of telling New Zealand stories with a strong and clear writing voice.

This engaging read picks up where its predecessor left off, with Kitty sailing the high seas with her broodingly handsome Irish lover Rian and his rag tag crew aboard The Katipo in the mid 1840s. Time has passed and it is now safe to return to Sydney to collect the remains of their dear friend Wai whose passing is one of the emotional turning points of the first novel. Returning Wai to her people in Northland, Kitty and Rian find the fledgling country in turmoil. Maori dissent is running high in the far north and war in the new colony seems inevitable.

It is with this in mind that Rian banishes Kitty to the relative safety of Auckland until the tension dies down and it is here that the title character Amber captures Kitty’s heart. A street urchin, the strong willed Kitty takes Amber into her home and affections and begins to unravel the many secrets locked within this mute orphan three year old. But will Rian, having already lost his first wife and child, share Kitty’s determined joy at the prospect of this child to call their own? And just what is Rian doing in Kitty’s absence?

“Amber” strikes the perfect balance of a sequel with enough back ground information to bring new readers up to speedy on the events in the previous novel but not too much so as to frustrate long time fans – a difficult balance to achieve and one which Challinor pulls of nicely. It is also a deliciously easy read with warm characters who feel like old friends you haven’t seen for a while and whose company you slip into like you have never been apart.

“Amber” is another winning novel by New Zealand writer Deborah Challinor. Told with warmth, wit and flair, this worthy sequel to “Kitty” will please old fans and new with its accurate and colourful rendering of 1840s New Zealand, forthright characters and heart-warming storylines of love in all its many forms.

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