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March 31, 2020 April 2020 No Comments

Pearly Gates

I happened to hear  a chapter of Pearly Gates read on morning radio. It seemed like a very well written story and I was pleased to see that there were copies available from the library. On reading Pearly Gates the impression I had taken from the radio reading was confirmed that this is a very enjoyable book.  

Pearly – he had been called this since school days and nobody can remember his real name – was a partner in the busy Real Estate firm of Rawleigh and Gates. He was also Mayor of the good sized town, Pearly liked to be busy.  While the town was not named descriptions along the way suggested Timaru. He had a good marriage with two, now grown up, children.

The novel covers roughly a year of Pearly’s life as he juggles business and civic duties, opening with his putting in the expected appearance at the local A and P Show. There are two major events in Pearly’s year, local body elections where he is running for a third term as mayor and the one hundred and twenty fifth celebration of the town’s boy’s college. Pearly is chairman of the committee organising the celebrations and reunion.

Long the way we are introduced to his many associates and their lives; his business partner, the council CEO, the deputy mayor, many agency clients and members of the community with their many and various problems. 

Also his brother and family. Pearly and his brother had always been very close and happily the wives became good friends. The brother was now on the family farm, Pearly had never wanted to be a farmer and had gone off to Otago University. He had been very good a rugby  playing for the university and then Otago, being suggested and a future All Black until a very bad leg break ended his career. 

The strength of the book is that while it is a very full and interest grabbing story, which smoothly moves right along, it is a slice of real life with its ups and downs and problems to be solved along the way – it is totally believable. The reality is enhanced by author Owen Marshall’s excellent descriptions so subtly applied. A recommended read.

 Mike Beckett

(I note that Pearly Gates is on the short list for the New Zealand Book Award)

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