Lovewordsmusic interviewee Alec Patric wins Miles Franklin Award

Hooray for Alec Patric! His book ‘Black Rock White City’ just won the Miles Franklin Award for best book. And that is a big ole deal, as it’s Australia’s premier literary prize, and is worth a whopping $60,000 AUD. Not bad for a man who works in a St Kilda book store and struggled to get published.


Caroline Barron and Alec Patric at Readings Book Store, Melbourne, 2015. Image copyright Caroline Barron

I gave the book five stars on Goodreads back in June 2015—click on the link to read my review.


Alec Patric. Image copyright Alec Patric

And, after meeting Alec in Melbourne, we had a lovely, long conversation over email. Click on the link to read some wonderful insights into a writer’s mind.

Congratulations, Alec!

Book Review: The Two Worlds of Maggie Papakura (2005) by David Andrews


Maggie Papakura, probably taken in her house at Whakarewarewa. Photograph taken by William Henry Thomas Partington [ca 1910], courtesy of

 Margaret Pattison Thom, who was later widely known as Makereti (or Maggie) Papakura, (1873 – 1930) is a fascinating New Zealand historical figure, because her story spans two contrasting worlds and times. She was born to an English father and Maori mother and grew up in a traditional Maori way—living in a whare, sleeping on the floor, and cooking over a hangi. She became one of Rotorua’s most famous tour guides and hosted thousands of visitors, including the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Her natural charm and storytelling ability lead to international exhibition opportunities in Sydney and London, and the press of the time report her as being comparable to the most charming English woman.

She eventually married an English country squire and lived the kind of life unimaginable to her as a girl. All the while she is focussed on preserving and promoting traditional Maori culture, using this as her thesis topic for anthropology studies at Oxford University in 1926, although she died in 1930 before it was published (it was published eight years later by a friend).


A different world: Maggie Papakura, 21 July 1913, taken in a London studio, courtesy of

No wonder David Andrews was (clearly) fascinated by his subject. I am grateful to him for researching, collating and preserving Papakura’s story for future generations. He travelled far and wide and spent a lot of money piecing together her life. However, the writing often rambles and is repetitive, and the entire book is in need of a thorough edit. Don’t get me started on the random spaces before commas and other layout issues! Continue reading