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A Respectable Veneer by Rachel Doré

This novel opens in 1954, and Ruby and her ten-year-old daughter Edie catch a train away from their life in Auckland to start a new life in Palmerston North. Ruby is escaping a life lived in the criminal slums and wants to start again – a respectable life, one where she and Edie will be safe and have new opportunities.

But from the outset, life is tough for Ruby and her daughter. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs and little money. Where will they live? And as a single mother, how will Ruby find employment when society frowns on women in this situation? But slowly, Ruby makes new friends, and new opportunities come her way. There is a job, and there is a man who becomes a close friend, but his secrets are almost as complicated as her own.

Just when Ruby thinks she has created a respectable veneer, a sinister figure from her past turns up and threatens to destroy her new life.

Rachel Doré explores the question of whether we can escape our past or if we are doomed to carry it with us forever in this page-turning and thought-provoking novel. Ruby and Edie are well-drawn characters, and the author brings to life society in the 1950s with its judgemental moral code, a time of strait-laced repression, the rock n roll era still in the future. A Respectable Veneer is highly recommended and I look forward to more books from this talented novelist.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Upstart Press


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