REVIEW: Emma Timpany's "Travelling in the Dark"   1 Dec 2018

Charlotte Everett

Emma Timpany’s Travelling in the Dark weaves a tale of homecoming that will resonate with many, and particularly with those who may have left painful memories of their homeland behind to put down roots elsewhere. It tells the story of Sarah, a New Zealand woman returning home for the first time in a decade, with her young son in tow. It captures the intoxicating beauty and drama of New Zealand, as well as the sense of belonging that anyone who has left feels every time they return – regardless of how long they may have been away. Sarah’s struggle is one that many will relate to... for a complex array of reasons.

Timpany herself is a New Zealand writer who now calls Cornwall home, where she is married with two children. The novella is certainly written from the perspective of the importance of  homecoming, rather than the story giving much detail to the events that happen in the years that the central character has been away; the years that have really shaped who she is today. What we do learn of Sarah is that she left New Zealand because she had a great opportunity (to join an archaeological dig in Greece) – what Sarah learns for herself, is that the true reason for leaving home was a desire to run away, as is the case for many who suddenly up-sticks and move to the other side of the world (myself included)! Sarah then moves to London, gets married, and has little to do with what she left behind in New Zealand. Some years later, divorced, she returns home to a friend in need of her support, a friend who was instrumental in her departure in the first place.

Travelling in the Dark is an evocative journey through Sarah’s struggles – both physical (when earthquake debris literally blocks the road ahead, among other obstacles) – and emotional, as she is forced to face the pain of her past.

The New Zealand landscape is incredibly vivid through Timpany’s writing – anyone far from home should brace themselves for a dose of homesickness. The descriptions of real places, as well as actual events and their impact – such as the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, will really jolt Kiwi readers in particular. There’s a sense of realness that stands out and holds its own, independent of the fictional story.

The story itself leaps back and forth between Sarah’s youth and the present day, and is gripping enough to keep reading. However I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable, including Sarah’s young son, and crucially, her long lost love and friend Patrick, who she has returned to visit. Patrick’s general demeanour, as well as his behaviour and treatment of Sarah – especially in her memories from her years as a young adult – makes it difficult to understand why she should feel such affection for him. The ending of the novella was also inconclusive, and although this is clearly intentional, having joined Sarah so far along this journey, I would have gained greater satisfaction from seeing just a little more of what will happen next. Nonetheless, Travelling in the Dark is beautifully written, and a great short read.

 

Travelling in the Dark – by Emma Timpany, paperback published by Fairlight Books

ISBN 978-1912054480 RRP £7.99

 

About the reviewer:

Charlotte Everett has been contributing to NZNewsUK as a columnist and journalist since 2011, and currently serves as London Editor – a post she has held since mid-2013. She has been based in London since mid-2007 and has a broad writing portfolio, including music/entertainment, theatre reviews, travel, rugby, Kiwi success, vegan food, and WW100/ANZAC. She is also an experienced freelance tour guide, and leads city walks across London and Oxford several times a week. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Finalists announced for the Air New Zealand UK New Zealander of the Year Award 2019

6 Dec 2018 Press Releases
Finalists for the prestigious UK New Zealander of the Year Award 2019, presented by the New Zealand Society of the United... more

New Zealand increases climate finance commitment to Pacific

25 Sep 2018 Environment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 New Zealand increases climate finance commitment to Pacific New Zealand will increase its global climate finance... more

Business

Multinationals to pay fair share of tax

26 Jun 2018 Business News
26 JUNE 2018 HON STUART NASH New measures to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax will come into force next... more

NZ Government launches Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures

22 Aug 2018 Business News By Hon Damien O'Connor
21 AUGUST 2018 Growing New Zealand's food and fibre sectors sustainably and supporting a thriving economy are the hallmarks of a new... more

Living

New Zealand wine celebrates bicentenary with record sales

6 Dec 2018 Food & Wine
In 2019, New Zealand will be celebrating 200 years since the first vine was planted on its shores.  From 100 grapevines... more

REVIEW: Emma Timpany's "Travelling in the Dark"

1 Dec 2018 Review By Charlotte Everett
Emma Timpany’s Travelling in the Dark weaves a tale of homecoming that will resonate with many, and particularly with those who... more

Property

More certainty in construction sector smooths boom and bust cycle

22 Aug 2018 Property
30 JULY 2018More certainty in construction sector smooths boom and bust cycle HON JENNY SALESA The 2018 National Construction Pipeline... more

NZ Property: Foreign buyers ban passes third reading

15 Aug 2018 Property
15 AUGUST 2018 HON DAVID PARKER The Bill to put in place the Government's policy of banning overseas buyers of existing homes has... more

Migration

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

18 Aug 2018 Migration
18 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees... more

Post-study work rights emphasise skills NZ needs

8 Aug 2018 Migration
8 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY Changes to post-study work rights will help ensure international students coming to New Zealand... more

Travel

Arrival card change to smooth border process for international travellers to NZ

26 Sep 2018 Travel & Tourism By Hon Kris Faafoi
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 International travellers arriving into New Zealand should have a simpler, faster entry as a result of changes to... more

NZ Government to fully fund Auckand's SkyPath as part of $390m investment in walking and cycling

25 Aug 2018 Travel & Tourism
23 AUGUST 2018 HON PHIL TWYFORD HON JAMES SHAW Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw have... more

Sport

America’s Cup court ruling vindicates process

26 Sep 2018 Sailing By Hon David Parker
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Environment Court has today granted the resource consent for the 36th America's Cup bases in Auckland and the... more

Humble Stephen Kearney praises Warriors staff ahead of finals appearance: 'It's not down to one person'

3 Sep 2018 Rugby League
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney paid tribute to the club's unsung heroes ahead of their first taste of NRL finals football since... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Congratulations to Loder Cup winner

26 Sep 2018 People By Hon Eugenie Sage
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, has been awarded to Robert McGowan for 2018... more

Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

16 Aug 2018 Appointments
16 AUGUST 2018Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO HON JENNY SALESA Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is... more

Recruitment

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

14 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

22 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more