Author Damien Wilkins’ Novel Max Gate Tantalises

Lower Hutt-born author Damien Wilkins’ “surprising” novel Max Gate, which explores the question of why novelist Thomas Hardy’s body was buried in Westminster Abbey and his heart in Dorset, is reviewed in the Daily Mail’s literary fiction column.

The novel Max Gate opens in 1928, a few days before the novelist’s passing.

“Our narrator is housekeeper Nellie, whose earthiness and tart ripostes might suggest a solid stock type but who is far more interesting, attempting to summon – as she looks back from a distance of 60 years – the perspectives of all those keeping vigil at Hardy’s home, Max Gate,” the Mail’s Stephanie Cross writes.

“The fading writer remains in the wings throughout; centre stage is his long-suffering second wife, Florence. Crushed by her husband’s cruelty, she seeks solace in her friendship with another novelist, J. M. Barrie, but Barrie’s plans for her spouse’s mortal remains are a growing source of tension.

“The making and shaping of an image is what interests Wilkins in a novel that plays with the boundary between fact and fiction.

“However, it’s the tantalising, rather too brief glimpses of Nellie in her life outside and beyond Max Gate that ultimately prove most memorable.”

Wilkins teaches at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.

Original article by Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail, June 2, 2016.

Tags: Daily Mail  Damien Wilkins  Max Gate  

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