Author(s): Maurice Gee
As a young man in Vienna in the 1930s, Josef Mandl was a member of underground left-wing groups battling the Nazis. In New Zealand during the Second World War Mandl is judged a communist agitator and interned on Somes Island along with several other Germans and Italians. Josef makes two unsuccessful attempts to escape, and in the process discovers Wellington as a place where he might live. He finds work, masters English, marries Nancy, begins a new life. He has continuing contact with Willi, a charismatic fellow internee who is a strong anti-fascist and torments Josef for his new respectability. In his Wadestown house in the 1990s, now a successful businessman, Josef Mandl looks out to Somes Island and brings his past into focus. He visits old friends, encounters Willi now a pathetic ruin of a man, and ponders why despite his successes he feels askew from his times, a little removed by his history. Also available as an eBook
Maurice Gee has long been considered one of New Zealand's finest writers. He has written more than thirty books for adults and young adults and has won numerous literary awards, including the UK's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the Wattie Award, the Deutz Medal for Fiction, the New Zealand Fiction Award and the New Zealand Children's Book of the Year Award. Maurice lives in Nelson, in New Zealand's South Island, with his wife Margareta, and has two daughters and a son.