Friday, November 24, 2017

The Master of Tawhai--Notes

"The sign says his name is Satan, honey."
Literature: (17) A bull named Mephistopheles trees her, (36) Without knowing Forrest for any time at all, Rowena suggests that he favors Penny over Lindsay in the manner of Isaac favoring Jacob over Esau, (63) He compares her to Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew, (67) Forrest plays 'The Spring Song', 'Where'er You Walk', Westering Home', 'The Eriskay Love Lilt' and 'The Bells of St. Mary' on the piano, (79) She wants to go to bed early and he calls her Miss Methusaleh, (86) He forecasts the weather and she thinks of him as King Canute who will not find that the wind and weather will obey his will, (95) On Anzac Day she reads a memorial. "On holy mountains, out of the lap of the dawn, the dew of Thy young soldiery offers itself to Thee", (96) Another memorial window at the church reads "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, (122) Rowena reads the writings of early settler, Lady Barker, which alerts her to sheep fleeing a massive storm, (135) The family sings together. One song is 'Galway Bay', (136) Forrest puts a poem to music by Jane East, an Australian writer:

I have loved green--the green of lovely things;
The pale, flat discs of new nasturtium leaves,
The feathers of a mountain-parrot's wings,
The first frail grass that Spring, new-awakened weaves;
And depthless pools where tides have ceased to run,
And winter apples hanging in the sun!

I have loved green--bright-dropping beads of jade,
Soft pussy-willow silk with silvery folds,
Books with green covers carelessly arrayed,
And emerald bottles capped with tinselled golds!
But the green wonder of your laughing eyes
Stirs me each time, O Love, to new surprise!

Locations: (10) Tawhai Hills is beyond the Rangitata  (This is a fascinating article which references Lady Barker and this area. It talks a lot about the famous Canterbury winds.),

(104) When Forrest takes Rowena to the family seaside home, they travel through Takahe, (122) They travel through the Rakaia Gorge to Lake Coleridge (also referenced in that winds article), (172) When the flash flood hits, Five Forks is used as a rendezvous point.

New Zealand: (13) Rowena is thirsty but declines to drink from a stream for fear of hydatids, (26) Rowena thinks a 14-pound salmon is quite large but the minister's wife says it's small for New Zealand, (27) the minister's wife doesn't like mutton-birds (too fishy). She recommends whitebait, kumeras, Maoris sweet potatoes, toheroas, shell-fish... Rowena is introduced to 'baches', though in Otago they call small beach cottages 'cribs', (34) Forrest tells Rowena she'd be terrified by a Maori haka, (39) Morning tea is served at ten which equalled elevenses at home, (41) Forrest is quick to say he belonged to the New Zealand Navy, not the Navy, (47) the doctor threatens to 'bung' (British Slang. to throw or shove carelessly or violently; sling.) 

Let she who has not had technical difficulties,
bung the first computer.

Forrest into the hospital, (53) Forrest introduces a Maori shearer named Fergus McLaren and tells her there's been so much intermarriage that you can't go by names. Pakehas have adopted some Maori names like Ngaio, Huia and Tiaki, (59) Rowena polishes a kauri bannister, (72) she references a belisha beacon (which is more British, I think), (80) New Zealand birds are listed: bell-birds, tuis, and moreporks. Also, they are preparing to go on a pig hunt which surprises her, (82) the first home at Tawhai Hills was wattle-and-daub, then raupo. His great-grandfather came in December 1850 with the First Four Ships on the Charlotte Jane. An old man nearby can remember the Maori Wars. (93) N.Z.'s only eagle went extinct before white colonialization, (95) they celebrate Anzac Day, (109) they enter the D.I.C. lounge, (128) Lindsay spends her time 'swotting', (129) N.Z. surprises Rowena by celebrating the Queen's Birthday on the Monday nearest June 3rd since the reign of George V, (145) Helen speaks at both the Women's Institute and the Women's Division, (152) Rowena is called an excellent 'rouseabout', (166) Forrest tells her he's seen the Aurora Australis, (170) Forrest confesses to working a 'slinter' with Aunt Lavinia to get Rowena away for the day, (184) Lindsay, though 20, is still a minor and can't marry without her uncle's consent.

"I'm sure we have his blessing anyway!"
Manse Life: (25) The minister's wife is named Nancy, a laughing, copper-headed girl who looks nothing to Rowena like what she is, (28) Nancy says that parish cars always impoverish a minister. "Another bill for thiry or forty pounds would have rocked our budget completely. We call that car 'The Millstone', (30) Nancy only smokes cigarettes to feel wicked and worldly when she is getting too fed up with parishioners. She also smokes one when she's feeling too saintly--it gets her back to everyday levels, (95) three ministers of different denominations take part in Anzac Day services at the chapel on the estate, St. John-in-the-Wilderness--Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist.


  1. Again, I am amazed at the many things you can learn from reading Essie Summer's books or Betty Keira's reviews!

    Thank you for jotting down all the interesting facts on the back of an envelope while reading Essie's novels and passing the information on to us.

    Kūmara and toheroa? – Aha!

    I am glad the minister’s wife didn’t like the mutton-birds. shudder
    I only wish she’d felt the same way about the whitebait.

    Bell-bird, tui, and (Oh, cute!) morepork.

    Wattle-and-daub, can be OK, or can be bad enough, but raupo?
    Cough, cough. Er, no, I think I’ll stay where I am and count my blessings, thank you very much. 😺

  2. The whole idea of mutton birds sounds icky. I should take a picture of my notes sometime as they look just like you imagine they would.

  3. The inscription "On holy mountains, out of the lap of the dawn, the dew of Thy young soldiery offers itself to Thee" is to be found in the "Great War" memorial window, Roslyn Presbyterian Church, Dunedin, where Essie Summers' husband served as minister.
    Many of the places described in this story are to be found and recognised today :)
    I must re-read this book; I'm so pleased to have discovered these entries!
    [Valerie, NZ]