Caro came across these books in one of the Amazon Kindle sales and picked it up to try out because it was set in New Zealand. Of course we’re quite keen on reading other romance novels by both New Zealand authors and authors from around the world setting their books in New Zealand.
Caro enjoyed the book. It was a tidy little romance with engaging characters and a nice happy ending. The author had done her research well and evoked a sense of New Zealand. She’d worked really hard on getting the patois right, even including a glossary of terms at the conclusion of the book to help out non-Kiwis. More about that later.
The main character, like the author, is an American, which helps to smooth any linguistic and cultural bumps and Caro really appreciated the effort that had been gone to. This was no Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game or Anthony Hopkins in the World’s Fastest Indian. Only a Kiwi would pick up that Ms James wasn’t a Kiwi!
Ms James also had a few notes about Maori pronunciation which were pretty good. Caro and I have just had a discussion about some words as she has learnt Ngai Tahu (aka Kai Tahu) dialect and being brought up on the East Coast, I am firmly Ngati Porou. Also as we both live in Auckland, we’re exposed to Ngati Whatua. So we could come up with three different versions of the same word or phrase. Given that, we think Ms James was on the money.
We liked the recipes section at the back of the book, although they were missing such Kiwi classics as the pavlova, although again the cook was an American.
Reading through the glossary provided us with lots of room for discussion. Some of the terms were spot on and phrases that we use every day (even though a lot of people look at us like we’re bonkers and ask for explanations!). Here are a few of our favourites:
- berko – berserk (only I use this one, normally prefaced by “crazy ape”
- boofhead – a foolish person. We used to use this an awful lot, complete with accompanying hand gestures!!
- chokka – full
- flattie – a flatmate. I use this all the time, in fact have a friend who I only call Flattie (and he calls me Flattie) but Caro says she’s never used it!
- gutted – we do like this, although I am very amused by the teenagers who frequently misspell it as “guttered”
- kiwifruit – “The fruit. Never simply called a kiwi.” Big props to Ms James for this one, as it’s only overseas that it’s called a kiwi. To us, if you say you’re eating a kiwi, we think of the brown flightless bird and are frankly horrified!
- littlies – the kids. We do use this.
- mad as a meat axe – we both use this often, but we may be in the minority.
- oldies (wrinklies) – we use wrinklies
- rattle your dags – Caro uses this, but agrees it’s old fashioned
- shonky – a shady person – we would use in terms of an object which is a bit broken or a bit off
- sparrow’s fart – crack of dawn
- stroppy – prickly, taking offence easily
- this arvo – this afternoon. We both use this all the time
But there were a few which gave us a good giggle, or caused us to raise an eyebrow and ask “have you ever heard that?”
- ambo – Australian for ambulance
- bull’s roar – close e.g. they never came within a bull’s roar of winning. We like this one, but have never heard it before.
- come a greaser – have a bad fall. Neither of us had heard this – we’d tend to say “came a cropper”.
- cossie – swimming costume, but it’s Australian. We say togs!
- flat to the boards – in our minds, usually accompanied by “like a lizard drinking” and more Australian
- on the front foot – we’re inclined to say on the back foot rather than this
- out on the razzle – we never use this
- SAFA – South Africa abbrev. We’ve never heard this.
- speedo – direct quote “Not the swimsuit! Speedometer. (the swimsuit is called a budgie-smuggler)”. Ms James is correct re speedo, but we don’t often refer to small fitted men’s togs as budgie smugglers. However, this did bring to mind a rather amusing guide to the difference between togs and undies.
- stonkered – drunk, but we’ve never used this
One glaring omission from the glossary of this book – there was no JAFA (Just Another F***ing Aucklander). To be fair, it tends to be those living south of the Bombay Hills who refer to Aucklanders as JAFAs, but Caro is proud to be a JAFA!
Just a note here that although NZ is small, there are regional differences for example, “wee” or “crib” in Southland and Otago. It may be that wherever Ms James was based, she heard the phrases used whereas we don’t consider them common. We should also note that there were rugby terms in the glossary which Caro denied all knowledge of!!! We should also note that all the reo was correct, so big props again!
All in all, we’d recommend this book, and the series. In fact, I am off to download them right now. Any romance novels about rugby will get my vote! You can find out more about Rosalind James at her website, on Twitter @rosalindjames5 or Facebook (we especially like the video of Tutira mai nga iwi on this page) rosalindjamesbooks.