The Natural Home by Wendyl Nissen
I admit to an enormous girlie crush on Wendyl Nissen who to my mind embodies the art and grace of New Zealand celebrity which is without vanity. As the former editor of one of my favourite magazine titles The Australian Women’s Weekly, I watched in awe from my nearby cubicle as Wendyl transformed the much loved, but tired, classic into an up to the minute compelling monthly read.
Somehow she kept all that was good and swept away the dull and predictable. She added rich, jewel-like colour and overlaid a dull old lady with a veneer of sophistication and glamour. And she did all of this without shrieking or self-absorption, but with the quiet self-assurance that comes from great experience.
Wendyl did not look like a celebrity, and she certainly did not behave like one. In this way she stood above the dross of contemporary media as somewhat of a doyen. And she did all of this while quietly revolutionising her home life at a Hokianga hideaway that was as many miles from media hype as she was.
When I found out that we had mutual friends, it is possible I swooned. On the pretext of mentioning this mutual friendship I finally summoned up the courage to speak with her. We formed a passing acquaintance – which mostly consisted of me telling Wendyl how much I admired each new change to the magazine I had loved since my Australian childhood.
I had long been a fan of her other media column of natural household hints, but it was only when Wendyl added another about her Hoikianga haven to The AWW, that I was able to get an armchair view in to that magical place and to understand how this informed her life.
The Natural Home extends this glimpse into a long view of Wendyl’s dedication to living in harmony with nature. She offers tips, hints, recipes and anecdotes to encourage us all to adopt poison-free practices to enhance our health and well-being, while also treading lighter on the earth.
I love the chapters on foraging and preserving and budget friendly entertaining; as well, of course, the recipes themselves for everything from cleaners to cosmetics. Together these make access to the good life not only accessible, but also highly desirable.
The Natural Home would make a very welcome gift this coming Christmas for someone you care about it.
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
Allen and Unwin $39.99