Tue, Jul 5, 2022 4:30 PM

De Goldi’s latest novel ‘nothing short of genius’



Review by Tania Miller

Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi
Published by Allen & Unwin

The death of a dog hails the beginning of Kate De Goldi’s latest novel Eddy, Eddy. Set in post-earthquake Christchurch. This is a poignant story of loss, love and religion, of the broken-ness of people, buildings, and things, and the reality that some things can be repaired, and some can’t.

Possibly best known for her 2008 novel The 10pm Question, it has always been hard to pigeon-hole De Goldi’s books. Not that it matters as the characters and plots have appealed to children, teens and adults alike. Eddy, Eddy, however, marks a change. Some of the content in this book whilst suitable for older teens, is definitely not for children.

Kate De Goldi will be speaking at the Marlborough Book Festival this Saturday.

Eddy Smallbone is the hero and he is possibly her most endearing character to date. Probably coming of age, definitely experiencing an existential crisis, Eddy is going through some shit.  An orphan, Eddy has been raised by his Uncle Brain (yes, Brain), the Librarian and a trilogy of unlikely carers, ‘wild’ classical musician Bridgie, Union organiser Ginge – and ‘The Modern Priest’ aka Christopher Mangan, a disgraced priest of the Catholic persuasion.

Our 19-year old protagonist works at New World, with a burgeoning pet-minding business on the side. He dropped out of his Catholic School in his final year and broke up with his girlfriend in quick succession. That was two and a half years ago and six months before the Christchurch earthquake and the death of his grandmother. Like I said, Eddy is going (and has gone) through some shit.

De Goldi is a wordsmith of the highest degree. Her language is playful and elegant. Eddy is forever cursing ‘Brain’ words, a complicated lexicon from having grown up in an eccentric though old-fashioned environment, where every Christmas the Messiah would play on repeat (LP of course) and Sir Laurence Olivier’s narration of Dickens’ The Christmas Carol is a given.

In fact, from the first, references to Dickens’ The Christmas Carol are strewn liberally throughout Eddy, Eddy. We follow Eddy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, from the death of his beloved dog Marley, into a life where he is trying to deal with various ‘clients’, as well as dealing with his infuriating Uncle’s homelife and a woman who he’d thought he’d forgotten. And in classic Dickensian style, there are ghosts circling…

There is a dramatic climax as heart-breaking secrets are revealed. This is a wonderful novel and triumphant return for Kate De Goldi. I have always thought that Kate De Goldi was a wonderful writer, but after reading Eddy, Eddy I think she is a nothing short of genius.

Eddy, Eddy will be released on 8 July. Kate De Goldi will be speaking at the Marlborough Book Festival this Saturday, 9 July with Susan Paris about their work for young readers from 11-12pm at ASB Theatre Marlborough and about Eddy, Eddy from 2-3pm at Spy Valley Wines.

On Sunday 10 July from 12-1pm,  Kate will be in conversation with Lloyd Jones about landscape in literature, visit www.marlboroughbookfest.co.nz or pop into the ASB Theatre Marlborough to buy tickets.

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