Sunday 29 April 2018

Book review : All Day At The Movies - Fiona Kidman

As a keen family history buff, I instantly loved the concept of  Fiona Kidman's All Day At The Movies - a family saga following the story of five generations of the same family, with frequent nods to current events going on through the decades, from the 1950's right through to the modern day. As I have often seen in my family tree, tragic events or major upheavals often did have knock-on effects through the generations, so it was interesting, and entirely believable, to see how repercussions rippled through the family, even without the characters having knowledge of what caused them.

The novel, set in New Zealand, begins in 1952 with war widow Irene Sandler and her young daughter moving to the tobacco fields to start a new, self-sufficient life. Times are hard but Irene is the first in a line of strong women, having to deal with all manner of things that life throws at them. Despite the hard work and harsh living conditions, Irene starts to have a glimmer of hope of finding a new happy ending when she embarks on a relationship with of her co-workers. Fate has other ideas though, and once again, she is devastated when her new love is tragically killed. Even worse, she finds herself with child - a huge drama for an unmarried woman in those days. She ends up marrying the boss, Jock Pawson, in an act that will save her and her children's reputation but not necessarily her, or their, happiness.

Two children later, Irene passes away, leaving her offspring (and husband) to find their way in a rapidly evolving society, with huge social and political changes afoot. They each have their own traumas to deal with, in very different ways, and end up scattered across the country. Each chapter switches to a different member of the family, following their separate progressions through life. They do eventually find each other again, but is it too late for the wounds of the past to heal and for them to finally find closure and a sense of self-understanding?

It is a poignant but tenderly written narrative, revealing the fragility of relationships but also the indestructible connection that ultimately binds us to our close family members. Taken separately, each individual chapter is an interesting look at life, especially for women, at a specific time period in modern history. The early chapters are particularly moving, highlighting barbaric attitudes towards unwed mothers being forced to give up their children and casual racism and sexism in society, but the novel as a whole shows how attitudes have changed, thankfully largely for the better. 

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aardvark Bureau (8 Mar. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910709344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910709344

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. This is a new author for me. It sounds like a moving, engaging book. I love family sagas.

  2. Sounds a difficult read


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