Passant: A Journey to Elsewhere

Passant: A Journey to Elsewhere

Average: 4 (1 vote)
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Passant offers an account of a doubly divided family, involving its New Zealand and wealthy, distant British branches during the 1930s and 1940s. It covers the early years of its chief protagonist who relates the experience of growing up against the background of the Great Depression and the Second World War, in a family torn apart by tragedy—particularly the death of a lawyer grandfather at the age of forty in a New Zealand mental institution and its subsequent and calculated concealment. Worse though, on top of the family’s secrets, misdiagnosed by a local doctor and just before his ninth birthday, the boy falls seriously ill. Drifting in and out of a coma, he undergoes major surgery, followed by almost two years in a hospital bed. This is a book of personal survival and the psychological consequences of lies and concealment, of a divided family and the disrupted lives of those belonging to it.


The author is an internationally recognised poet, fiction writer, editor and critic and in 2006 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to literature. He has also been a naval officer, a senior public servant, and a New Zealand Education Department inspector of technical institutes and community colleges.


Susan Krich
This is an interesting book. It is told from the viewpoint of a young boy mostly between the ages of 8 and 11 but ending with his entry into teacher's college. The details of his life are prominent with world events , World War II, almost as afterthoughts. His grandparents were immigrants to New Zealand and mine were to the USA. His age falls between that of myself and my father but some of his memories brought back long forgotten memories such as his memory of tapioca as frog eggs and my father calling it fish eyes. I learned that because of the depression school in New Zealand didn't start til age six and Guy Fawkes celebrations. I also remembered watching "Our Gang" films. The contrast between medical treatment and hospital conditions then as opposed to now is eye opening. There is a bit of mystery about his family woven through the pages and explained in the last chapter.

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