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The Nine Lives of Kitty K. by Margaret Mills

Colonial survivor, farmer’s wife and horse whisperer Kitty Kirk is the central figure in this historical novel that looks at her colourful life. She lived from 1855 to 1930 during the turbulent period of the goldfield’s history in Central Otago. She became a legend in her own lifetime, but while some praised her as being a heroine, others accused her of being a harlot.

The narrative begins with her young Irish mother being forced into a shotgun marriage and sent to New Zealand to escape the family shame. It follows Kitty’s life from a young girl to mature woman, with happiness turning into tragedy several times over – and with Kitty supporting herself as a woman alone for long periods of her life.

The story ranges from Queenstown, Kingston, Arrowtown and Lake Wakatipu, and is a series of adventures, but also hardships and setbacks. It paints a vivid picture of colonial life in early settler times, especially the hardships for woman.

Author Margaret Mills is as extraordinary as her central character, Kitty Kirk, having her first book published at age 91. It’s wonderful that Kitty Kirk’s story is now available for the general public to read. The Nine Lives of Kitty K. is a well-researched and fascinating read.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Mary Egan Publishing


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