By any measure, New Zealander Ruth Shaw has led an extraordinary life, whether it was sailing the Pacific, working with drug addicts and prostitutes in Sydney's Kings Cross, feeding archbishops or running a charter boat around Fiordland.
Equal parts adventure and loss, Ruth's eventful life has had one constant - books - and now to the delight of the reading public, she runs wee bookshops in Manapouri.
Captivating and honest, this is a fascinating memoir that combines the wisdom of a passionate reader with the story of an unconventional life shaped by tragedy but redeemed by courage and determination.
An engaging and easy but gripping read. An interesting glimpse into someone else's life, who they met, what they did. Members from overseas enjoyed getting a feel of how life in NZ was in the past. Some of the topics are disturbing - and one member mentioned that some trigger warning would have been advisable - and some members felt that there was a lack of depth in exploring some of these topics, perhaps because the author wasn't comfortable doing it. Summarised as a grandma's love letter from a rambling lady in a bookshop, with a nostalgia for a time they never had.
Group all enjoyed this book very much. Found it to be very relatable and easy to read. We admired Ruth's courage and boldness, and found her quite inspirational.
Most loved this book, very real, honest, poignant and at times hilarious. A descriptive life journey showing events that shaped and influenced a life of courage and determination. The vignettes of people in the shops interspersed with Ruth's story kept the pace cracking along and lengthening her past history. Definitely recommend.
We all enjoyed this book, the first book we have had consensus on. It was brave and honest, and invoked a good discussion about the author and our own lives. We found it an easy read which encapsulated traumatic material/events, and a full and interesting life. We enjoyed the stories within stories and her colourful adventures sailing, and with different people and men in her life.
We all loved this book. Beautifully written and a great story that generated an interesting discussion.
Wow! What an amazing book - what an amazing life Ruth Shaw has had. This book was loved by our entire group and led to a great discussion. One of our group had been in the Wrens with Ruth and another works with someone who had been at school with her, both were surprised at her life experience. We felt she was trying to escape her experience 'in the bus'. We all came to the conclusion that our lives have been 'very ordinary' by comparison.
'A brave book', 'a wonderful story-teller', 'couldn't stop reading it', 'the bookshop stories were fascinating and a tribute to the empathy of the author'.
We all loved this book... a candid, honest retelling of the author's life! Discussion about different times; flight from difficult situations/relationships.
Entertaining and very readable. We would all like to visit Manapouri, and visit the 'Bookseller' and other shops.
We loved the book. Easy to read. Flicking between times made it interesting. We got the feeling that the author was now at peace and happy. There were horrible parts though - like the rape. People liked the stories about her life rather than the bookshop stories.
Our entire group overwhelmingly enjoyed this book. Covering so many topics and many small kindnesses - there was much discussion. Everyone agreed they would thoroughly recommend, and most were very keen to visit Ruth and the bookshops in Manapouri. A few of our group found rape a really hard/confronting topic, and others, the baby loss. But on the whole we really enjoyed this super read.