Author(s): Vincent O'Sullivan
If we don't have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present. Esther's grandparents first meet at a church dance in London in 1947. Stephen, a shy young Kiwi, has left to practise pharmacy on the other side of the world. Eva has grown up English, with no memory of the Jewish family who sent their little girl to safety. When the couple emigrate, the peace they seek in New Zealand cannot overcome the past they have left behind. Following the lives of Eva, her daughter Lisa and her granddaughter Esther, All This by Chance is a moving multigenerational family saga about the legacy of the Holocaust and the burden of secrets never shared, by one of New Zealand's finest writers.
This is a historical novel of considerable depth. A young New Zealander travels to London in the late 1940's, meets and marries Eva, a beautiful woman with an East European background and Jewish parentage. They return to Auckland to raise a family and it's their daughter Lisa, and later their granddaughter Esther, who finally complete the story. It is a story that involves cultural amnesia and Holocaust denial. One scene alone, a vivid reconstruction of life in a concentration camp, is enough to ensure that once read, it will not soon be forgotten. The story is about the past and how it shapes us – whether we like it or not. The 'past' and 'chance' are inextricably linked and neither can be altered. An accomplished novel by an accomplished writer. Mike
Vincent O'Sullivan is the author of two previous novels - Let the River Stand, which won the 1994 Montana NZ Book Award for fiction, and Believers to the Bright Coast, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Tasmania Pacific Region Prize - and many plays and collections of short stories and poems. His most recent collection of short fiction is The Families.
His work has been much awarded and he was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2000 Queens Birthday Honours. Vincent O'Sullivan was the New Zealand poet laureate 2013-2015. He lives in Dunedin.