A Way Home
When life as she knew it ended, with her marriage over and her last child off into the world, writer Jillian Sullivan set out to fulfil a long-held dream of building a strawbale house. She settled in a small community in Central Otago, and A Way Home tells the story of how she eventually managed to build her new home.
With her son-in-law Sam as her builder and mentor, and she as the apprentice, Jillian describes the process of having to learn how to use tools, how to be strong and to be safe and, more importantly that there is no such thing as can't. The house that arises through this memoir is a physical testament to the rebuilding of a life, of finding your place in a community, and of the unexpected joyousness in joining with others on a building project. People come from all over New Zealand to help - from Nelson, Auckland, Queenstown, from next door and from the next valleys. There are poets and artists, a magician and finance analyst, grandmothers and grandchildren, old friends, new friends and strangers. Each person brings their unique skills and gifts and leaves with new ones. The house absorbs their creativity and kindnesses.
A Way Home reflects on our need for home, for community, and for finding a way to live sustainably in this rapidly changing world. The story evokes life in a harsh climate in a small village, the struggle to overcome lack of skills and strength, and to move past loneliness and loss to find a place to call home. This is an affecting story, quietly inspirational and beautifully told by a deft and skilled writer.
JILLIAN SULLIVAN, along with her builder son-in-law Sam Deavoll, built and plastered her strawbale home as part of making a new life in the Ida Valley, Central Otago. Since she'd read about natural houses in the 1970s, Jillian had believed in the possibility of community-built homes. A change in life in her fifties gave her the opportunity to follow her building dream. The author of eleven other books, Jillian has published novels, short stories, a collection of poetry and a book on the creative process, A Guide to Creating. She works at the Maniototo Hospital as a nurse aid, and teaches writing in New Zealand, and in America each year for the Highlights Foundation. Her awards include The Highlights Fiction Award in America, and the Kathleen Grattan Prize for poetry. She has five children and eight grandchildren, many of who were able to help on the strawbale house.