Gabriel's Bay by Catherine Robertson
Gabriel’s Bay made me laugh. Laugh out loud. It reminded me of the time I lived in a small community: the quirky characters including “The dog”, the dicey road over the hill to the city and the place itself, the stark beauty of it. I also came close to crying in places as the characters struggle with trying to find work in the isolated place, poor housing, the lack of social services and some dark secrets.
It’s a witty, clever story by a writer who understands what “community” means, the strengths and weaknesses and the bonds that hold a place together. The disparate characters in this story live in an unidentified small town but it could be anywhere in New Zealand. “People, Sidney had long since concluded, were weird” and there’s a broad spread of them in Gabriel’s Bay.
Kerry Macfarlane arrives in Gabriel’s Bay committed to a new job arranged entirely by email, with his prospective employer expecting a woman to help care for her increasingly bewildered husband. Kerry’s on the run and Gabriel’s Bay is a good place to lie low but it’s hard to have a secret in a small town and he wants to prove he’s not a complete failure. Kerry soon develops a brilliant plan to transform the town but not everyone is happy about that and Kerry must decide if he truly wants to stay in Gabriel’s Bay.
Reviewer: Margaret Samuels
Penguin Random House, RRP $38.00