What You Wish For by Catherine Robertson
This new novel by Catherine Robertson can be read as a stand-alone, or as part of her Gabriel’s Bay series, which is set in a small coastal town in New Zealand. It’s a busy book with many characters. It includes the arrival of the town’s new GP, Dr Ashwin Ghadavi, who is a very professional and proficient doctor when at his practice, but outside of work he is shy and awkward. He is attracted to feisty eco-warrior Emma, who has recently returned home, but will he ever pluck up the courage to ask her out? It isn’t helped that his forthright office manager, Mac, is Emma’s mother.
Meanwhile Devon, who is a barman, is getting fed up with not finding a date, due to his insanely good looks, that unfortunately make him look feminine – and it’s not helped that he refuses to cut his long hair. Then there is Patricia, who never had children, but now as an older woman decides she would like to foster children. Vic Halsworth is a struggling farmer, whose life is about to get much worse when Emma is on a mission to right eco wrongs, and he is one of the targets in her sights.
What You Wish For brings small-town New Zealand to life in an engaging way, while it deals with many issues currently facing New Zealanders. These issues include the impact of farming and how we connect to the land, gender and sexuality, and how people are often judged by their appearances. I can see this book adapting well as a TV sitcom, with the variety of characters working well on screen. Having not read the previous books in the series, it did take a little while to get into the book, just as there are so many characters, but Catherine supplies a who’s who list of characters at the front of the book which is helpful. Of course, for anyone who has already read the previous books, you can dive into this new novel with ease. An enjoyable read that is distinctly ‘kiwi’.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Penguin Random House, RRP $38.00