Blogosphere Book Circle Review: Access Road / Maurice Gee

Access Road / Maurice Gee. (2009) Penguin New Zealand

From the publishers: “As she watches her brother losing the battle with his memories, Rowan wonders how long she can keep her own past at bay

The old family home in Access Road, where Lionel, Roly and Rowan grew up, is crumbling away – but after more than fifty years Lionel and Roly are back. Rowan too, otherwise safe in her ‘upper crusty’ suburb, is drawn more and more strongly ‘out west’.

 The past is dangerously alive. Clyde Buckley – violent as a boy; enigmatic, subterranean as an old man – returns to his childhood territory. What does he want? What crimes does he hide? And how is Lionel involved? Rowan must abandon safety if she is to find out . . .

Maurice Gee is a master storyteller. Access Road is at once a novel of chilling tension and expansive humanity; both a beautifully crafted work of literature and an effortlessly seductive family story.”

Access Road is written from the point of view of Rowan “Boatie” Pinker as she is drawn slowly back to her family home, her brothers and her past.

I have to say that I approached Access Road with trepidation,  I knew what I expected to get from the novel and those expectations were met.

I should say first off that I like Maurice Gee, I think he is an immensely talented writer, and not one of his books is poorly written. He is a master of the craft and any work by him will reflect this. That being said I really don’t like his adult fiction. I love his children’s books, and we have lots of them on our shelves. They are re-read material.

His adult fiction just leaves me cold, and Access Road was no different. Within his adult writing there is vein of violence and darkness, an undercurrent of brooding tension that I am sure is deliberate, but it is one that just leaves me cold. I always struggle to finish an adult Gee, as that undercurrent leaves me feeling uneasy and unwilling to continue. I always visualise a Gee novel in sepia tones.  I am sure that many people like that in their fiction, but for myself I leave it well alone.


3 thoughts on “Blogosphere Book Circle Review: Access Road / Maurice Gee

  1. That’s really interesting Michael – I’ve never read any of his children’s literature *hangs head in shame* so can’t comment on the comparison. I find it interesting that many New Zealand writers choose to have a dark undercurrent in their writing. I know that conflict makes for good stories… perhaps that is why.

  2. There’s very definitely a dark undercurrent, Man Alone springs to mind, as does Sleeping Dogs… One could almost describe it as a feeling or theme running through Kiwi literature…

    The children’s books also have an edge, but it’s not as tangible…

  3. Thanks for your review. I liked this book becuase I liked the writing but I didn’t like the plot which I found unbelievable and a bit contrived. But that’s why we belong to the Book Circle- to read stuff we normally wouldn’t bother with!

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