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WDH (New Port Richey, FL)
When I found out I was receiving this book, I quickly read the first one. While Song of the Spirits could stand alone, it was good to know the family history. Lifting the hefty book out of the package and checking how many pages there were was a bit intimidating, but it's a pretty quick read with lots of interesting information about England and New Zealand, the lengthy travel experiences, settling in new territories, unease between natives and settlers, how importing animals changes the environment, etc. Very descriptive - at times I could almost visualize the people and landscape. A bit on the romance side and there is violence towards women, but overall a good vacation read. Recommend having a pencil handy to make note all of the characters!
Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)
what a song!
Sarah Lark's Song of the Spirits is a sumptuous epic. I was completely enthralled throughout its nearly 700 pages. A continuation of Lark's earlier work, In the Land of the Long White Cloud, the plot concerns key families who settled in New Zealand in the late 1800s.
Barbara H. (Richmond, IN)
The Saga of Kura and Elaine
This book has everything: characters who represent various levels of society, background material on the developing country, and plot lines that keep one reading. Following the trials of Elaine, who marries the wrong man, and her cousin, half-Maori Kura, an aspiring opera singer, makes for some fascinating reading.
I most highly recommend this saga. I took my time reading it, since I was enjoying the author's way of presenting her story so much. I am grateful that there is a prequel; I will most certainly read that as well.
Song of the Spirits would make a perfect gift for a reader who loves historical fiction, tales of adventure, and down-to-earth love stories.
The size of the book was daunting at first until I began to read. Even if I had wanted to stop reading I could not. These two young women managed to live absolutely exciting lives and bring the reader along with them into two very different situations. The book, which takes place in New Zealand, introduced me to different times, peoples, and life styles. One of the most interesting parts concerns the place of coal mining in New Zealand and the unwillingness of some mine owners to improve working conditions. New Zealand in the back country where these two young women both seek to hide is very much like the Old West mining towns. Both coal minors and gold minors are found there. It would be a very long selection for a book club, but a most worthwhile selection for the individual reader.
Linda W. (Summit, NJ)
A Tale of Two Cultures
The location of New Zealand for "Song of the Spirits" is precipitous. This is a country with a glorious landscape that evokes a primal spirituality is most people who visit there. I was disappointed at the author's decision to not describe the scenery of New Zealand and its Maori culture more fully in an attempt to evoke the spirits.
Karen L. (Wilton, IA)
Couldn't put it down
Instead she concentrated on their human story and their relationships to animals as the doorway into their spirit. The twists and turns in the plot as it follows the two young women and their quest for independence and adulthood is fascinating. There is no condemnation at the recklessness of young love or the abandonment of a child because there is an extended family that wraps itself around these women and 'cleans up their mess'.
It was the story line that kept me engaged through 600 some pages. I think the translation is a bit clumsy in some places and I longed for a mental transportation to New Zealand, a gorgeous country that I have been fortunate to have visited.
I thought it would take me a long time to read such a long book but it only took 3 days! I couldn't put it down, I wanted to know what would happen next. I worried about some characters, was angry at some characters, rooted for some of them etc. I liked Elaine while also feeling sorry for her and rooting for her. I disliked Kura for her spoiled self centered entitlement. I recommend this book to just about anyone. Its a family saga, a romance, and historical fiction. I am not sure whether book clubs would like it because it is so long. Its also part of a series but even though I never read book one it was fine to start with book 2. There are hints about what probably happened in book one. This book made me want to read the rest of the series.
Hilary H. (Tucson, AZ)
Song of the Spirits
Song of the Spirits is a large (600 pages) novel about 1890s New Zealand. This was more of a romance novel than historical fiction that I was hoping for but an enjoyable read nonetheless. I am going to New Zealand in December so have been eagerly reading books that take place there. I happened to read the first of Sarah Lark's books on NZ just before receiving this book. Reading that one first provided a better back story of the characters, their intertwined relationships and why things are the way they are. Sarah Lark's books are often "landscape novels" according to the brief bio in the book and this does give one a fair sense of the overall landscape of 1890's New Zealand. As the title suggests, there are both positive influences as well as tensions with the Maori. The "song of the spirits" fascinate some and drive others mad.
Pamela F. (Grants Pass, OR)
Song of the Spirits
I love a book where I get to learn about a new land and another way of life. I also love a good saga. This book delivered on both counts. Although not the best of the genre, it was very good. New Zealand is not a place that I have ever read about, so that was very refreshing. I will go back and read the first installment and will look forward to the new installments in the future. Very happy with the book.
Sharalynne P. (Munster, IN)
Don't be put off by the thickness of the book.
When I first opened the package I was surprised by how thick the book was. But once I got into it I enjoyed it so much I could have read more. Great summer read.