A Surfeit of Sunsets by Dulcie Castree (Mākaro Press, 2016), 204 pp., $35
Dulcie Castree’s pen is a diamond drill inscribing patterns on crystal glass: every page of this novel rings with exquisitely cut sentences. They catch brief moments of a place, a scene, a figure, and send them chiming and resounding through the story, holding it from the first pages to the heartbreaking end.
It is set in Taiwhenua, an ordinary seaside town on the coast north of Wellington, and the people living there might seem familiar enough, too. May, a child-woman of around 40, born late to her mother, lives much loved with her aunt and uncle, Phoebe and Henry, after her mother dies. Shirley has taken a six-month lease on a bach when an affair with a married man ends. Poesy, newly widowed, has changed her name from Freda in an attempt to reinvent her life. Miss Vogel teaches at the local school – she has taught for 25 years and sees no need to invent new sentences. She struggles with original sin, and slashes young ambitions with a red pen. Joan, married with five grown sons, searches for the other half of her lonely thought. Francis is a young teacher, new to the school; he has an easy rapport with the students, and no idea how he annoys Miss Vogel. Fat Wally, with an accent from an unknown Eastern European country, lies on the beach and translates the clouds into his own language. [Read more…]