Starlight Peninsula by Charlotte Grimshaw, Vintage, ISBN9781775538226, RRP $38
Starlight Peninsula is the beguiling new novel from one of New Zealand’s most celebrated contemporary authors, Charlotte Grimshaw. The novel’s central character, Eloise Hay, is a young woman forced to slowly confront trauma from her past, a past that suddenly seems to her to be full of layer and hidden meaning. Readers of Grimshaw’s previous books will already be familiar with parts of her story.
The author uses instantly recognisable characters and scenarios from recent events in New Zealand politics and media to create a mysterious tale of power and influence, as well as an enthralling glimpse into the mind of a woman who’s trying to understand what’s happened to her life.The novel feels at once deeply embedded in the New Zealand landscape and still universal. Every character is like a small perfect portrait, and the absolutely stunning writing creates an atmosphere of dreamy mystery.
Perhaps this was what happened when you went mad: eventually everyone was a stranger. You went on talking and in the end you were surrounded by faces you didn’t know.
Eloise is a character dealing with loss every day but in many ways failing to allow herself to move beyond it.
Grimshaw’s use of language really was so beguiling to this reader. She mostly writes in a sparing manner but every so often an image is dropped into the narrative that is intensely powerful and poignant. It’s hard not to become intrigued by the ominous undercurrent moving through the book, which correlates strongly with our society’s own current zeitgeist that asks if those who purport to tell us who we are might not instead be our worst enemies.
Reading Starlight Peninsula is a disquieting experience but also immensely satisfying. Now I have to catch up on the rest of Grimshaw’s books.
Eloise half-listened. She was remembering the person hidden behind Kurt Harmann’s eyes. How many of us are living so deep below the surface, no one knows who we are?